The Mirage of America in Contemporary Italian Literature and Film

The Mirage of America in Contemporary Italian Literature and Film

BARBARA ALFANO
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 200
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt4cgj4c
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  • Book Info
    The Mirage of America in Contemporary Italian Literature and Film
    Book Description:

    The Mirage of America in Contemporary Italian Literature and Filmexplores the use of images associated with the United States in Italian novels and films released between the 1980s and the 2000s.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9911-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-29)

    A mirage is an optical illusion; by analogy, it is “something that appears real or possible but is not in fact so.”² The works of the contemporary Italian intellectuals considered in this study (writers, filmmakers) reflect a specific image of America – never simply the United States of America, but that cultural construct that Italy has called America since the New World entered its collective imaginary. In the novels and films under examination here, while America may sometimes correspond to the United States, overlapping with the geopolitical space, more often it may be only a metaphor, an idea, a dream, or...

  5. 1 Wandering Subjects
    (pp. 30-57)

    The “I”s of Nanni Moretti’sCaro diario(1994) and Francesca Duranti’sSogni mancini(1996) wander between places and wonder about their identities. Ultimately, they transport and translate their identities, since the sense of moral responsibility with which they invest themselves, as individuals in society, is manifested from a position of constant geographical and ideological displacement. America is central toSogni mancini, while inCaro diaroit comes in the form of a cultural construct absorbed in the Italian context. In both cases, it represents one of the two horns of the dilemma: is America to be chosen, or not? And...

  6. 2 America Ubiqua
    (pp. 58-84)

    Unlike the works explored in the previous chapter, Roberto Benigni and Massimo Troisi’sNon ci resta che piangere(Nothing Left but to Cry, 1984), Gianni Amelio’sLamerica(1994), and Alessandro Baricco’sCity(1999) are not first-person narratives. Their subjects, rather than being individuals in search of identity who narrate a voyage of self-exploration, embody, reflect, or directly discuss icons of the mythic America and so delineate the role that these same images hold in Italian culture and history. All these works have as their central theme the choice between good and bad, where good means a better life for the...

  7. 3 On a Trip to America: The “I” Travels
    (pp. 85-109)

    What does it mean to go to America? The two “I”s of Andrea De Carlo’sTreno di pannaand Gina Lagorio’sL’arcadia americanarediscover America as geographical location. Unlike Moretti, who meets America in Italy, or Benigni and Troisi, who never get there, the two narrators of the novels under examination in this chapter and the next do go to the United States of America on a voyage that is, supposedly, a voyage of self-discovery, but turns out to be a voyage of self-defence: defence of a well-established cultural identity that prevents the “I” from engaging with America on a...

  8. 4 American Arcadia
    (pp. 110-132)

    Gina Lagorio decided to writeL’arcadia americanaafter a voyage she made to the United States at the invitation of the American Association of Italian Studies, in the spring of 1999. About the writing of the novel, when thinking of her next literary project, she said to the journalist Grazia Casagrande, “Bisognerà che mi punga, mi urga qualcosa dentro come mi è successo perL’arcadia americanache non ho potuto fare a meno di scrivere […]” (Casagrande; “Something inside will need to urge me, to prick me, as it happened forL’arcadia americanathat I couldn’t help but write […]”).²...

  9. 5 Historicizing the Dream: A Documented Eye on America
    (pp. 133-153)

    The history of the Italian migration to the United States has received renewed and particular attention in some Italian artistic productions of the past ten years. The novel and the two films that I take under consideration in this chapter stage that history as the main character, which produces the elements of the fiction, not just the backdrop of the story. I focus on Melania Mazzucco’s novelVita(2003), on Nanni Moretti’s documentaryThe Last Customer(2002), and on Emanuele Crialese’s filmNuovomondo(2006). These three artistic productions are rooted in a narrative space where the stories of the individuals...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 154-160)

    The final destination of the real and metaphorical voyages in the contemporary Italian literary and cinematic works that have taken America as their object and goal is not America, the land of unlimited possibilities for human accomplishment. The ultimate point of arrival is the person herself.

    The protagonist ofSogni mancini, Martina Satriano, finds that the best solution for her is to live between two countries, Italy and America. She has lived in the United States for twenty years. Nonetheless, she calls herself Italian, but calls Manhattan home. The space that her oppositional halves inhabit – her left and right sides,...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 161-178)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 179-188)
  13. Index of Names and Titles
    (pp. 189-190)