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The Italian in Modernity

The Italian in Modernity

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 880
  • Book Info
    The Italian in Modernity
    Book Description:

    In this study, Robert Casillo and John Paul Russo look at both Italy and Italian America to explore the paradoxical representation of Italy as the originator of modernity that has resisted many modern tendencies.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8707-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
    Robert Casillo and John Paul Russo
  4. chapter 1 Stendhal and Italy
    (pp. 3-181)

    If Stendhal were not internationally famous for his fiction, he would probably be best known as an incomparable Italophile, for whom Italy was virtually synonymous with happiness. ‘All the characteristics of the Italians,’ he wrote in 1813, ‘... are pleasing to me.’ On 4 July 1814 he proclaimed: ‘Rome, Rome is my mother country, I’m burning to be on my way.’¹ So intense was Stendhal’s identification with Italy that he made it his adoptive homeland and, in his fictionalized autobiographyThe Life of Henri Brulardclaimed for himself a partly Italian genealogy. He mentions in the same work his youthful...

  5. chapter 2 The Unbroken Charm: New Englanders in Italy
    (pp. 182-250)

    The earliest American tradition of travel writing on Italy was actually a New England tradition, and it grew out of the fact that so many New Englanders followed one another to Italy in the nineteenth century, leaving a wealth of journals, letters, travelogues, newspaper articles, poetry, fiction, and translations. In 1833, on a spring day in Rome, Emerson counted fifteen Bostonians in the Piazza di Spagna. Fourteen Lowells were visiting Italy in 1852; James Russell Lowell said he was ‘going abroad to become acquainted with his family.’¹ Many travellers aimed to recover the lessons of an old country for the...

  6. chapter 3 Isle of the Dead
    (pp. 251-328)

    As a new Italy emerged in the nineteenth century from its fragmented territories, foreign visitors sought for the older land into which they read their desires and fantasies. They were reacting against industrial society, attacking it, resigning themselves to it, or searching for a way out. Many visitors chose a funerary theme or a classical underworld to express themselves and their yearning for death or a lost world in which they might be reborn. ‘If orthodox religion was crumbling, and if nature was emptied of spiritual meaning,’ wrote Douglas Bush, ‘classical myth might seem to be the last symbolic medium...

  7. chapter 4 From Italophilia to Italophobia: Italian Americans in the Gilded Age
    (pp. 329-360)

    There were Italians and Italian Americans in American literature before the Civil War, and they figure significantly in twentieth-century American literature.¹ Nonetheless, one may second a remark by Richard Brodhead: ‘Never before or since has American writing been so absorbed with the Italian as it is during the Gilded Age.’² By far the larger part of this fascination expressed the desire for high culture and gentility, an ‘aesthetic-touristic’ attitude towards Italy exemplifying ‘High Cosmopolitan Civilization.’ It resulted in a flood of travelogues, memoirs, historical novels, poems, etc., peaking at the turn of the century and declining after World War I....

  8. chapter 5 Puccini’s American Theme
    (pp. 361-392)

    Giacomo Puccini’s operatic career, fromLe Villiin 1884 toTurandotin 1924, corresponds exactly to the period of mass emigration from Italy. During these forty years, fifteen million Italians left their homeland, mainly for the Americas, one-third of them for the United States. Today the movement is viewed, with Fascism and industrialization, as ‘perhaps the most significant social phenomenon in Italian post-unification history.’¹ Even in the 1890s, Francis Marion Crawford deplored Italy’s being ‘depopulated’ and in a sweeping historical parallel said that ‘in parts’ emigration ‘is so extensive that it can only be compared with the westward migration of...

  9. chapter 6 ‘To Die Is Not Enough!’: Hemingway and D’Annunzio
    (pp. 393-433)

    Given the historical legacy of particularism, no one city epitomizes Italy in modernity, though Venice probably comes closer than any other in the popular imagination. It has been ‘painted and described many thousands of times,’ said Henry James, ‘and of all the cities of the world is the easiest to visit without going there.’¹ Or, as one would say, it is the world’s most ‘virtual’ city. With its wealth of historical, literary, artistic, and political associations, unique urbanism and architecture, contrary myths and polarities of East and West, deeply engrained and often contradictory stereotypes, putative autochthonous identity, and not least,...

  10. chapter 7 The Hidden Godfather: Plenitude and Absence in Coppola’s Trilogy
    (pp. 434-492)

    The image of the Italian as criminal, from the virtuoso of crime in the Renaissance to the Italian American gangster of the present, has so firmly embedded itself in popular culture that despite, or perhaps because of, its negative valence, Italian and Italian American artists have long exploited it for their own purposes. In countless works of fiction, film, and drama, the villain-heroes and their shadowy cohorts have been made to reveal themselves from multiple perspectives (social, familial, religious); to represent certain Italian American attitudes (suspicion of authority, anarchistic tendencies, marginality, clannishness, hedonism); and to elicit varied reactions (identification, anger,...

  11. chapter 8 The Representation of Italian Americans in American Cinema: From the Silent Film to The Godfather
    (pp. 493-640)

    The representation of Italian Americans in American cinema from silent films into the early 1970s has largely been the history of the formation and recirculation of ethnic stereotypes, which most directors have employed unquestioningly, but to which the more talented, while acknowledging that ‘grain of truth’ stereotypes often contain, have applied strategies of irony and subversion. Although the encounter of native Americans with Italian immigrants helped to form these stereotypes, their deeper origins lie in the relations between Italy and the northern European world. They owe much to Renaissance narratives, not altogether imaginary, of an amorally sensual Italy abounding in...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 641-840)
  13. Index
    (pp. 841-861)