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World's Fairs Italian-Style

World's Fairs Italian-Style: The Great Expositions in Turin and their Narratives, 1860-1915

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 400
  • Book Info
    World's Fairs Italian-Style
    Book Description:

    Of interest to students and scholars of literature, cultural history, and Italian,World's Fairs Italian-Styleprovides a fascinating glimpse into a hitherto unexplored area of study, and brings to light a cultural phenomenon that played a significant role in shaping Italy's national identity.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2730-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction The Spectacle of Inventing a Nation: World’s Fairs and Their Narratives in Italy, 1860–1915
    (pp. 3-14)

    Laboratories of modernity, inventories of the world, and shrines to progress, international and universal exhibitions (popularly known as World’s Fairs) and their predecessors, national expositions, featured prominently during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.¹ Since Walter Benjamin’s scathing definition of World’s Fairs as ‘the sites of pilgrimages to the commodity fetish’ (‘Paris’ 151), scholars have extensively discussed the role of national and international expositions in industrialized countries such as Great Britain, France, and the United States.² These studies consistently overlook Italy’s role as both a participant in and sponsor of these events. The reasons for such an omission are evident: politically...

  5. 1 Prologues to World’s Fairs: National Expositions and Nation Building in Turin
    (pp. 15-78)

    On 21 and 22 September 1864, among fierce popular unrest and a bloody military repression that killed more than two hundred protesters, Turin relinquished its role as Italy’s capital city. In what they have labelled the long ‘autumn of the Risorgimento,’ numerous historians saw post-1864 Turin as the victim of a protracted period of political marginalization and identity crisis.¹

    These historians generally emphasize the decline of the Risorgimento ideals in post-unitary Italy, especially during the era of the ‘famous deaths’ between 1871 and 1882, when Italy lost it secular trinity: Giuseppe Mazzini, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and King Victor Emmanuel II. ‘Una...

  6. 2 Turin 1911: The ‘Fabulous Exposition’
    (pp. 79-122)

    L’Architettura italianaplayed a familiar tune in the spring of 1911, with this affected description of how Italy was celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of national unity. The ‘fabulous exposition’ of 1911 symbolically reunited the three capitals – Turin, Florence, and Rome – in what was proudly advertised as ‘una delle maggiori esposizioni che il mondo [abbia] mai visto’ (one of the most important expositions that the world [has] ever seen) (Moriondo 2). By 1911, Turin was the leading industrial metropolis in Italy, having surpassed Milan in terms of the number of factories built in its territory and the number of workers these...

  7. 3 Emilio Salgari: Writing Exposition Style
    (pp. 123-175)

    On a September morning in 1883, the citizens of Verona awakened to see striking posters adorning the walls of the downtown buildings. The posters displayed a large tiger, its mouth open and its eyes glaring, but with no caption to explain its sudden and exotic appearance in the medieval district of this quiet northern Italian town. The townspeople assumed that a circus or a wild animal show was due to arrive. A couple of days later,La nuova arena, one of Verona’s four daily papers, reported that a tiger had escaped from its cage in a neighbouring village. The Veronese...

  8. 4 Guido Gozzano’s Imperial Ambiguities
    (pp. 176-268)

    In 1917, the prestigious Milanese publishers Fratelli Treves issued Guido Gozzano’sVerso la cuna del mondo: Lettere dall’India(Toward the Cradle of the World: Letters from India), a collection of fourteen travel sketches describing some of the cities and customs of India. Since Gozzano had died prematurely in 1916, the publishers had charged Giuseppe Antonio Borgese with assembling, editing, and prefacing the volume. By 1916, Borgese was already one of the most influential arbiters of Italian literary taste, and his critical authority, combined with the Treves’s reputation and Gozzano’s own standing in the contemporary poetic arena, converged to giveVerso...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 269-272)

    Since the fabled Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851, World’s Fairs have constituted ordered display cases of goods as well as ideas. Like the merchandise exhibited for the public’s desiring eyes, these ideas were arranged and packaged for quick assimilation and eager consumption. If the expositions’ cornucopia of commodities stunned the fairgoer with a sense of abundance, extravagance, and novelty, the power of the World’s Fairs’ ideas derived from the fact that they were both few and redundant. From one fair to the next, recurring notions displayed themselves in novel garb: they were notions about national identity and...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 273-316)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 317-338)
  12. Index
    (pp. 339-351)