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Postal Culture

Postal Culture: Reading and Writing Letters in Post-Unification Italy

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Postal Culture
    Book Description:

    InPostal Culture, Gabriella Romani examines the role of the letter in Italian literature, cultural production, communication, and politics.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6723-5
    Subjects: History, 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-x)
  4. Part I

    • 1 Postal Culture after 1861: An Introduction
      (pp. 3-17)

      In this information age, when writing letters has become a rarity if not an oddity in a world of personal communication dominated by mobile communication, skype conversations, text messaging, and email exchanges, to engage in research on nineteenth-century epistolary practices may seem an anachronistic endeavour. And yet, the steady decline in our recent history of letter writing has only been matched by an increased academic interest in the topic, resulting in the publication of a large number of critical works focused on the history, practice, and fictional representations of letter writing. Paradoxically, we no longer write letters but love to...

    • 2 Writing and Reading Letters: The Nationalization of the Italian Postal Service, Epistolary Manuals, and the Print Media
      (pp. 18-72)

      For those who were born before the Internet era, the sheer speed of circulation of news, not only public but personal, is at times confounding: as a result of technological developments, much has changed in the past few decades in the way we receive and produce information. This reaction is not without precedent: despite the industrial backwardness of nineteenth-century Italy, people must have felt startled by the changes in the modes and timeliness of communication when, as a result of institutional interventions and technological developments (such as the construction of a more extensive railway system and the invention of the...

  5. Part II

    • 3 Fictionalizing the Letter: Giovanni Verga’s Storia di una capinera
      (pp. 75-112)

      Written in a moment of intense nostalgia for his family while he lived in Florence in 1869, “una notte che passeggiava, solo, lung’Arno, evocando i ricordi del tetto paterno” [during a night walk, by himself, along the Arno, while he recalled the memories of his father’s house], as De Roberto famously recalled,Storia di una capinerais the novel that inaugurated Giovanni Verga’s debut on the national literary scene and brought him to national fame (Casa Verga142). Its publication was greeted with general enthusiasm: readers viewed it as a true novelty of the burgeoning literary market, and critics hailed...

    • 4 Cœur-responding with Her Readers: The Sentimental Politics of Matilde Serao’s Epistolary Fiction
      (pp. 113-155)

      Matilde Serao’s literary career has traditionally been divided into two main periods – the naturalist, and the sentimental or erotic-mundane. The first period, usually more valued by literary critics, dates from 1881, withCuore infermo, to 1890, withIl paese di cuccagna, which is often considered her last work in the naturalistic,veristavein.³ In 1891, Serao began the publication of what have been described as “thousands of sterile, inflated, and evanescent pages” (Gisolfi xii) in which the Neapolitan writer described the sentimental life of the aristocracy and the upper middle class. All of Serao’s fiction developed a narrative mainly centred...

    • 5 Conclusion
      (pp. 156-160)

      The nationalization of the postal service marked a historical moment of transformation for the post-unification development of letter writing. Epistolary fiction became part of this cultural, institutional, and technological process as well as playing a role in the formation of modern national identities. The postal service came to be perceived by contemporaries as an indicator of progress and a provider of a wider and more efficient circulation of information, and readers and writers of letters relied on a shared set of conventions and perceptions that transformed the letter into a bridge between the private world of personal communication and the...

  6. Appendix:: Letters Transcribed from Newspapers

    • “Sulla convenienza per le fanciulle di adoperare anche nell’uso domestico la lingua comune italiana” (La Ricamatrice)
      (pp. 163-165)
      Ippolito Nievo
    • “La donna italiana: Lettera I, II, III, IV, V” (La Ricamatrice)
      (pp. 166-181)
      Pacifico Valussi
    • “Memorie di Convento” I, II, III, IV (Giornale delle Famiglie)
      (pp. 182-201)
      Caterina Percoto
    • “La Serva” (La Stampa)
      (pp. 202-205)
      Matilde Serao
    • “La Padrona” (La Stampa)
      (pp. 206-209)
      Marchesa Colombi
    • “La Donna Libera” (L’Illustrazione Italiana)
      (pp. 210-216)
    • “La Donna Povera” (L’Illustrazione Italiana)
      (pp. 217-222)
      Marchesa Colombi
    • “Lettera aperta di Anna Maria Mozzoni a Matilde Serao” (La Lega della Democrazia)
      (pp. 223-227)
      Anna Maria Mozzoni
    • “Lettera aperta a Anna Maria Mozzoni di Matilde Serao” (La Lega della Democrazia)
      (pp. 228-230)
      Matilde Serao
  7. Notes
    (pp. 231-256)
  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 257-266)
  9. Index
    (pp. 267-272)