As an international scholar and resident of Italy who has observed and shared the experiences of Italian women for the past twenty years, Alba Amoia has positioned herself perfectly to report to English-speaking audiences the great range and variety of writing produced by twentieth-century Italian women. Her personal contact with many of the authors she discusses lends further immediacy to her study.
Rather than focusing exclusively on contemporary living authors, Amoia discusses writers from the early part of the twentieth century as well, linking them with later writers spanning twentieth-century Italy’s literary movements and political, social, and economic developments. Yet the connections and contradictions that bind and divide these women are only beginning to be established because Italy is still a splintered country in which perceptions of Italian women as a historical group have only begun to crystallize. While feminine voices resound on the Italian literary scene, only recently has feminine authority made itself felt in the professional and institutional worlds.
The eleven writers in this volume criticize the female role in Italian society, externalize women’s unconscious needs, and offer unusual examples of feminine creativity. Amoia provides a critical treatment of each author, incorporating the accepted opinion of Italian and other critics. She isolates recurrent and fundamental themes in each author’s literary career: linguistic repression by males, personal frustration in the realm of "householditude," and disorientation within Italy’s unbalanced institutions and hierarchies still strongly anchored in archaic structures.
Amoia begins her discussion with two illustrious predecessors of Italy’s contemporary women writers: the 1926 Nobel Prize winner Grazia Deledda and the premier literary feminist Sibilla Aleramo. Continuing in chronological order, Amoia discusses Gianna Manzini, Lalla Romano, Elsa Morante, Natalia Ginzburg, Rosetta Loy, and Dacia Maraini. Amoia concludes her exploration of Italian women writers with three journalists: Matilde Serao, Oriana Fallaci, and Camilla Cederna.
Essentially, Amoia has provided a collection of succinct and accessible monographs featuring pertinent biographical information and extensive bibliographies. She discusses each author’s most representative works, seeking to give readers both a sense of these women as writers and an understanding of their significance in the male-dominated literary scene.
Recognized in America chiefly for his films, Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–1975) in fact reinvented interdisciplinarity in postwar Europe. Pasolini self-confessedly approached the cinematic image through painting, and the numerous allusions to early modern frescoes and altarpieces in his films have been extensively documented. Far less understood, however, is Pasolini’s fraught relationship to the aesthetic experiments of his own age. In Against the Avant-Garde, Ara H. Merjian demonstrates how Pasolini’s campaign against neocapitalist culture fueled his hostility to the avant-garde. An atheist indebted to Catholic ritual; a revolutionary communist inimical to the creed of 1968; a homosexual hostile to the project of gay liberation: Pasolini refused the politics of identity in favor of a scandalously paradoxical practice, one vital to any understanding of his legacy. Against the Avant-Garde examines these paradoxes through case studies from the 1960s and 1970s, concluding with a reflection on Pasolini’s far-reaching influence on post-1970s art. Merjian not only reconsiders the multifaceted work of Italy’s most prominent postwar intellectual, but also the fraught politics of a European neo-avant-garde grappling with a new capitalist hegemony.
Spaghetti with meatballs, fettuccine alfredo, margherita pizzas, ricotta and parmesan cheeses—we have Italy to thank for some of our favorite comfort foods. Home to a dazzling array of wines, cheese, breads, vegetables, and salamis, Italy has become a mecca for foodies who flock to its pizzerias, gelateries, and family-style and Michelin-starred restaurants. Taking readers across the country’s regions and beyond in the first book in Reaktion’s new Foods and Nations series, Al Dente explores our obsession with Italian food and how the country’s cuisine became what it is today.
Fabio Parasecoli discovers that for centuries, southern Mediterranean countries such as Italy fought against food scarcity, wars, invasions, and an unfavorable agricultural environment. Lacking in meat and dairy, Italy developed foodways that depended on grains, legumes, and vegetables until a stronger economy in the late 1950s allowed the majority of Italians to afford a more diverse diet. Parasecoli elucidates how the last half century has seen new packaging, conservation techniques, industrial mass production, and more sophisticated systems of transportation and distribution, bringing about profound changes in how the country’s population thought about food. He also reveals that much of Italy’s culinary reputation hinged on the world’s discovery of it as a healthy eating model, which has led to the prevalence of high-end Italian restaurants in major cities around the globe.
Including historical recipes for delicious Italian dishes to enjoy alongside a glass of crisp Chianti, Al Dente is a fascinating survey of this country’s cuisine that sheds new light on why we should always leave the gun and take the cannoli.
Founded in 1983, Annali d’italianistica has become synonymous with timely and fundamental scholarship on Italy’s literary culture, employing broad historical, cultural, and literary perspectives that are of interest to a wide variety of scholars. Published annually and monographic in nature, the journal uses as its point of departure the study of Italian literature and the Humanities more generally to foster scholarly excellence at all levels. Annali d’italianistica is receptive to a variety of topics, critical approaches, and theoretical perspectives that cross disciplinary boundaries and span several centuries, from the beginning of Italy’s cultural history to the present.
Founded in 1983, Annali d’Italianistica has become synonymous with timely and fundamental scholarship on Italy’s literary culture, employing broad historical, cultural, and literary perspectives that are of interest to a wide variety of scholars. Published annually and monographic in nature, the journal uses as its point of departure the study of Italian literature and the Humanities more generally to foster scholarly excellence at all levels. Annali d’Italianistica is receptive to a variety of topics, critical approaches, and theoretical perspectives that cross disciplinary boundaries and span several centuries, from the beginning of Italy’s cultural history to the present.
Ovid’s Fasti, his poem on the Roman calendar, became especially influential during the fifteenth century as a guide to classical Roman culture. Ovid’s treatment of mythological and astronomical lore, his investigation of anniversaries and customs, and his charting of monuments and history offered humanist poets and intellectuals an abundance of material to unravel. They could identify with Ovid as vates operosus, or hard-working seer–poet, suggesting both researcher and inspired authority.
Angela Fritsen’s Antiquarian Voices:The Roman Academy and the Commentary Tradition on Ovid’s Fasti offers the first study of the Renaissance exegesis and imitation of Ovid as antiquarian. Fritsen analyzes the Fasti commentaries by Paolo Marsi (1440–1484) and Antonio Costanzi (1436–1490) as well as the connections between the two works. It situates Ovidian Fasti studies in the Roman Academy under the mentorship of Pomponio Leto. Nowhere could the investigation of the Fasti be carried out better than in Rome. The humanists had a guide to the City in Ovid. They also regarded the Fasti as well suited to the ideology of the ancient Roman imperium’s renewal in modern papal Rome.
Antiquarian Voices illustrates how in reviving the Fasti, the humanists returned Rome to its original splendor. The book demonstrates that the humanists were eager to relate the Fasti to their antiquarian pursuits—as well as to their rising personal fame.
Arms and the Woman: Classical Tradition and Women Writers in the Venetian Renaissance by Francesca D’Alessandro Behr focuses on the classical reception in the works of female authors active in Venice during the Early Modern Age. Even in this relatively liberal city, women had restricted access to education and were subject to deep-seated cultural prejudices, but those who read and wrote were able, in part, to overcome those limitations.
In this study, Behr explores the work of Moderata Fonte and Lucrezia Marinella and demonstrates how they used knowledge of texts by Virgil, Ovid, and Aristotle to systematically reanalyze the biased patterns apparent both in the romance epic genre and contemporary society. Whereas these classical texts were normally used to bolster the belief in female inferiority and the status quo, Fonte and Marinella used them to envision societies structured according to new, egalitarian ethics. Reflecting on the humanist representation of virtue, Fonte and Marinella insisted on the importance of peace, mercy, and education for women. These authors took up the theme of the equality of genders and participated in the Renaissance querelle des femmes, promoting women’s capabilities and nature.
Long celebrated as one of “the Three Crowns” of Florence, Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–75) experimented widely with the forms of literature. His prolific and innovative writings—which range beyond the novella, from lyric to epic, from biography to mythography and geography, from pastoral and romance to invective—became powerful models for authors in Italy and across the Continent.
This collection of essays presents Boccaccio’s life and creative output in its encyclopedic diversity. Exploring a variety of genres, Latin as well as Italian, it provides short descriptions of all his works, situates them in his oeuvre, and features critical expositions of their most salient features and innovations. Designed for readers at all levels, it will appeal to scholars of literature, medieval and Renaissance studies, humanism and the classical tradition; as well as European historians, art historians, and students of material culture and the history of the book. Anchored by an introduction and chronology, this volume contains contributions by prominent Boccaccio scholars in the United States, as well as essays by contributors from France, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The year 2013, Boccaccio’s seven-hundredth birthday, will be an important one for the study of his work and will see an increase in academic interest in reassessing his legacy.
Well, gentlemen, here’s a tale that people have told time and again . . . .
So begins the title story in this collection of fifty Sicilian folk and fairy tales edited and translated by noted folklore scholar Jack Zipes. But while some of the stories may sound as if they’ve been told time and again—such as variations on Cinderella and Puss in Boots—many will enchant English-language readers and storytellers for the first time. From “The Pot of Basil” to “The Talking Belly,” “The Little Mouse with the Stinky Tail” to “Peppi, Who Wandered out into the World,” the stories in Catarina the Wise range from simple tales of getting a new dress or something good to eat to fantastical plots for outwitting domineering husbands, rescuing impoverished fathers, or attracting wealthy suitors (frequently the Prince of Portugal). Many feature strong, clever women (usually daughters who become queen). Many are funny; many are wise. Some are very, very strange.
As Zipes relates, the true story of their origins is as extraordinary as the tales themselves. Born to a poor family of sailors in Palermo, Giuseppe Pitrè would go on to serve with Garibaldi, become a traveling country doctor, and gather one of the most colossal collections of folk and fairy tales of the nineteenth century. But while his work as a folklorist rivaled that of the Brothers Grimm, Pitrè remains a relative unknown. Catarina the Wise highlights some of the most delectable stories at the heart of his collection. Featuring new, original illustrations, this book is a beautiful, charming treasure for any fan of story, storytelling, and heroines and heroes living happily ever after—sometimes.
Mary Jo Bona reconstructs the literary history and examines the narrative techniques of eight Italian American women's novels from 1940 to the present. Largely neglected until recently, these women's family narratives compel a reconsideration of what it means to be a woman and an ethnic in America.
Bona discusses the novels in pairs according to their focus on Italian American life. She first examines the traditions of italianitá (a flavor of things Italian) that inform and enhance works of fiction. The novelists in that tradition were Mari Tomasi (Like Lesser Gods, 1949) and Marion Benasutti (No Steady Job for Papa, 1966).
Bona then turns to later novels that highlight the Italian American belief in the family's honor and reputation. Conflicts between generations, specifically between autocratic fathers and their children, are central to Octavia Waldo's 1961 A Cup of the Sun and Josephine Gattuso Hendin's 1988 The Right Thing to Do.
Even when writers choose to steer away from the familial focus, Bona notes, their developmental narratives trace the reintegration of characters suffering from a crisis of cultural identity. Relating the characters' struggles to their relationship to the family, Bona examines Diana Cavallo's 1961 A Bridge of Leaves and Dorothy Bryant's 1978 Miss Giardino.
Bona then discusses two innovative novels— Helen Barolini's 1979 Umbertina and Tina De Rosa's 1980 Paper Fish— both of which feature a granddaughter who invokes her grandmother, a godparent figure. Through Barolini's feminist and De Rosa's modernist perspectives, both novels present a young girl developing artistically.
Closing with a discussion of the contemporary terrain Italian American women traverse, Bona examines such topics as sexual identity when it meets cultural identity and the inclusion of italianitá when Italian American identity is not central to the story. Italian American women writers, she concludes, continue in the 1980s and 1990s to focus on the interplay between cultural identity and women's development.
In 1936, Walter Benjamin defined the revolutionary class as being in opposition to a dense and dangerous crowd, prone to fear of the foreign, and under the spell of anti-Semitic madness. Today, in formations great or small, that sad figure returns—the hatred of minorities is rekindled and the pied-pipers of the crowd stand triumphant.
Class, by Andrea Cavalletti, is a striking montage of diverse materials—Marx and Jules Verne, Benjamin and Gabriel Tarde. In it, Cavalletti asks whether the untimely concept of class is once again thinkable. Faced with new pogroms and state racism, he challenges us to imagine a movement that would unsettle and eventually destroy the crowd.
This book considers some of the main adaptations of the character of Cleopatra for the Renaissance stage, travelling from Italy to England to arrive finally to Shakespeare. It shows how each reading of the story of Cleopatra is unique to and expressive of the culture which produced it, even as writers drew from the same sources from Antiquity. For the first time texts belonging to different cultures, rigorously presented, are brought into dialogue on such questions as moral standpoint, gender and the representation of the exotic. Moreover, through the fascinating figure of Cleopatra, the reader is able to explore the development of Renaissance tragedy, in its commercial and non-commercial versions. Ultimately both questions at the heart of this study - concerning Cleopatra's identity and her translation into theatre - converge to be (dis)solved by Shakespeare.
Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy has, despite its enormous popularity and importance, often stymied readers with its multitudinous characters, references, and themes. But until the publication in 2007 of Guy Raffa’s guide to the Inferno, students lacked a suitable resource to help them navigate Dante’s underworld. With this new guide to the entire Divine Comedy, Raffa provides readers—experts in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Dante neophytes, and everyone in between—with a map of the entire poem, from the lowest circle of Hell to the highest sphere of Paradise.
Based on Raffa’s original research and his many years of teaching the poem to undergraduates, The CompleteDanteworlds charts a simultaneously geographical and textual journey, canto by canto, region by region, adhering closely to the path taken by Dante himself through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. This invaluable reference also features study questions, illustrations of the realms, and regional summaries. Interpreting Dante’s poem and his sources, Raffa fashions detailed entries on each character encountered as well as on many significant historical, religious, and cultural allusions.
There is no artist more celebrated than Michelangelo. Yet the magnificence of his achievements as a visual artist often overshadow his devotion to poetry. Michelangelo used poetry to express what was too personal to display in sculpture or painting. John Frederick Nims has brought the entire body of Michelangelo's verse, from the artist's ardent twenties to his anguished and turbulent eighties, to life in English in this unprecedented collection. The result is a tantalizing glimpse into a most fascinating mind.
"Wonderful. . . . Nims gives us Michelangelo whole: the polymorphous love sonneteer, the political allegorist, and the solitary singer of madrigals."—Kirkus Reviews
"A splendid, fresh and eloquent translation. . . . Nims, an eminent poet and among the best translators of our time, conveys the full meaning and message of Michelangelo's love sonnets and religious poems in fluently rhymed, metrical forms."—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"The best so far. . . . Nims is best at capturing the sound and sense of Michelangelo's poetic vocabulary."—Choice
"Surely the most compelling translations of Michelangelo currently available in English."—Ronald L. Martinez, Washington Times
In Dante and the Limits of the Law, Justin Steinberg offers the first comprehensive study of the legal structure essential to Dante’s Divine Comedy. Steinberg reveals how Dante imagines an afterlife dominated by sophisticated laws, hierarchical jurisdictions, and rationalized punishments and rewards. He makes the compelling case that Dante deliberately exploits this highly structured legal system to explore the phenomenon of exceptions to it, crucially introducing Dante to current debates about literature’s relation to law, exceptionality, and sovereignty.
Examining how Dante probes the limits of the law in this juridical otherworld, Steinberg argues that exceptions were vital to the medieval legal order and that Dante’s otherworld represents an ideal “system of exception.” In the real world, Dante saw this system as increasingly threatened by the dual crises of church and empire: the abuses and overreaching of the popes and the absence of an effective Holy Roman Emperor. Steinberg shows that Dante’s imagination of the afterlife seeks to address this gap between the universal validity of Roman law and the lack of a sovereign power to enforce it. Exploring the institutional role of disgrace, the entwined phenomena of judicial discretion and artistic freedom, medieval ideas about privilege and immunity, and the place of judgment in the poem, this cogently argued book brings to life Dante’s sense of justice.
One of the greatest works of world literature, Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy has, despite its enormous popularity and importance, often stymied readers with its multitudinous characters, references, and themes. But until now, students of the Inferno have lacked a suitable resource to guide their reading.
Welcome to Danteworlds, the first substantial guide to the Inferno in English. Guy P. Raffa takes readers on a geographic journey through Dante’s underworld circle by circle—from the Dark Wood down to the ninth circle of Hell—in much the same way Dante and Virgil proceed in their infernal descent. Each chapter—or “region”—of the book begins with a summary of the action, followed by detailed entries, significant verses, and useful study questions. The entries, based on a close examination of the poet’s biblical, classical, and medieval sources, help locate the characters and creatures Dante encounters and assist in decoding the poem’s vast array of references to religion, philosophy, history, politics, and other works of literature.
Written by an established Dante scholar and tested in the fire of extensive classroom experience, Danteworlds will be heralded by readers at all levels of expertise, from students and general readers to teachers and scholars.
Lucrezia Marinella (1571–1653) is, by all accounts, a phenomenon in early modernity: a woman who wrote and published in many genres, whose fame shone brightly within and outside her native Venice, and whose voice is simultaneously original and reflective of her time and culture. In Enrico; or, Byzantium Conquered, one of the most ambitious and rewarding of her numerous narrative works, Marinella demonstrates her skill as an epic poet.
Now available for the first time in English translation, Enrico retells the story of the conquest of Byzantium in the Fourth Crusade (1202–04). Marinella intersperses historical events in her account of the invasion with numerous invented episodes, drawing on the rich imaginative legacy of the chivalric romance. Fast-moving, colorful, and narrated with the zest that characterizes Marinella’s other works, this poem is a great example of a woman engaging critically with a quintessentially masculine form and subject matter, writing in a genre in which the work of women poets was typically shunned.
As speaking animals, we continuously make use of an unassuming grammatical particle, without suspecting that what is at work in its inconspicuousness is a powerful apparatus, which orchestrates language, signification, and the world at large. What particle might this be? The word not.
In Essay on Negation, Paolo Virno argues that the importance of the not is perhaps comparable only to that of money—that is, the universality of exchange. Negation is what separates verbal thought from silent cognitive operations, such as feelings and mental images. Speaking about what is not happening here and now, or about properties that are not referable to a given object, the human animal deactivates its original neuronal empathy, which is prelinguistic; it distances itself from the prescriptions of its own instinctual endowment and accesses a higher sociality, negotiated and unstable, which establishes the public sphere. In fact, the speaking animal soon learns that the negative statement does not amount to the linguistic double of unpleasant realities or destructive emotions: while it rejects them, negation also names them and thus includes them in social life. Virno sees negation as a crucial effect of civilization, one that is, however, also always exposed to further regressions. Taking his cue from a humble word, the author is capable of unfolding the unexpected phenomenology of the negating consciousness.
This translation brings the complete works of three minor but important Italian poets — Dante’s contemporaries at the turn of the 14th century — to English speakers for the very first time. Taken together, the three authors sketch an idealized portrait of courtly life juxtaposed to the gritty, politically fractured world of northern Italy’s mercantile urban centers in which they lived. One poet, Folgore di San Gimignano, idealizes court life during the period; the second, Cenne da la Chitarra, looks at it more realistically and parodies Folgore; and the third, Pietro dei Faitinelli, takes inspiration from Folgore’s political writings and focuses on the politics of the times. The juxtaposition of the three poets in this work is effective and arguably shows them to be a poetic school. Tournaments, dinner tables, and public squares spring to life through vivid, material details, which should catch the interest of cultural historians and literary scholars alike. This translation is especially deft at reproducing the rich variety of culinary and sartorial vocabulary offered by the poets, and the translations of Pietro dei Faitinelli are especially well-executed.
“Since it is the case that you are now just beginning that journey that I have for the most part as you see completed, that is, the one through mortal life, and loving you so very much as I do, I have proposed to myself—as one who has been many places—to show you those places in life where, walking through them, I fear you could easily either fall or take the wrong direction.”
So begins Galateo, a treatise on polite behavior written by Giovanni Della Casa (1503–56) for the benefit of his nephew, a young Florentine destined for greatness.
In the voice of a cranky yet genial old uncle, Della Casa offers the distillation of what he has learned over a lifetime of public service as diplomat and papal nuncio. As relevant today as it was in Renaissance Italy, Galateo deals with subjects as varied as dress codes, charming conversation and off-color jokes, eating habits and hairstyles, and literary language. In its time, Galateo circulated as widely as Machiavelli’s Prince and Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier. Mirroring what Machiavelli did for promoting political behavior, and what Castiglione did for behavior at court, Della Casa here creates a picture of the refined man caught in a world in which embarrassment and vulgarity prevail. Less a treatise promoting courtly values or a manual of savoir faire, it is rather a meditation on conformity and the law, on perfection and rules, but also an exasperated—often theatrical—reaction to the diverse ways in which people make fools of themselves in everyday social situations.
With renewed interest in etiquette and polite behavior growing both inside and outside the academy, the time is right for a new, definitive edition of this book. More than a mere etiquette book, this restored edition will be entertaining (and even useful) for anyone making their way in modern civilized and polite society, and a subtle gift for the rude neighbor, the thoughtless dinner guest, or the friend or relative in need of a refresher on proper behavior.
A Ghost in Trieste
Joseph Cary University of Chicago Press, 1993 Library of Congress DG975.T825C37 1993 | Dewey Decimal 914.539304929
Gem of the Adriatic, Trieste sparkled and beckoned through the pages of poets and novelists. Drawn there in search of literary ghosts, of the poet Umberto Saba and the novelists Italo Svevo and James Joyce, Joseph Cary found instead a city with an imaginative life of its own, the one that rises, tantalizing from the pages of this book. The story of Cary's travels, A Ghost in Trieste, is also a tale of discovery and transformation, as the bustling world of port and airplane, baggage and trams and trains becomes the landscape of history and literature, language and art, psychoanalysis and the self.
Here is the crossroads of East and West. A port held in turn by the Romans, the Venetians, the Austrians, the Germans, the Slavs, and finally the Italians, Trieste is the capital of nowhere, fertile source of a unique literary florescence before the First World War. At times an exile home and an exiled city. "I cannot claim to have walked across it all,:" wrote Saba, the poet of Trieste in 1910 of the city Cary crosses and recrosses, seeking the poetry of the place that inspired its literary giants. Trieste's cultural and historical riches, its geographical splendor of hills and sea and mysterious presence unfold in a series of stories, monologues and literary juxtapositions that reveal the city's charms as well as its seductive hold on the writer's imagination. Throughout, literary and immediate impressions alike are elaborated in paintings and maps, and in handsome line drawings by Nicholas Read.
This "clownish and adolescent Parsifal," this Trieste of the "prickly grace," this place "impaled in my heart like a permanent point," this symbol of the Adriatic, this "city made of books" — here the book remakes the city. The Trieste of allusions magically becomes a city of palpable allure, of warmth and trying contradictions and gritty beauty. Part travel diary, part guide book, part literary history, A Ghost in Trieste is a brilliant introduction to an extraordinary time and place. In Joseph Cary, Trieste has found a new poet, and readers, a remarkably captivating companion and guide.
Looking at the historic Italian American community of East Harlem in the 1920s and 30s, Simone Cinotto recreates the bustling world of Italian life in New York City and demonstrates how food was at the center of the lives of immigrants and their children. From generational conflicts resolved around the family table to a vibrant food-based economy of ethnic producers, importers, and restaurateurs, food was essential to the creation of an Italian American identity. Italian American foods offered not only sustenance but also powerful narratives of community and difference, tradition and innovation as immigrants made their way through a city divided by class conflict, ethnic hostility, and racialized inequalities.
Drawing on a vast array of resources including fascinating, rarely explored primary documents and fresh approaches in the study of consumer culture, Cinotto argues that Italian immigrants created a distinctive culture of food as a symbolic response to the needs of immigrant life, from the struggle for personal and group identity to the pursuit of social and economic power. Adding a transnational dimension to the study of Italian American foodways, Cinotto recasts Italian American food culture as an American "invention" resonant with traces of tradition.
The Baroque period was crucial for the development of art theory and the advancement of the artistic academy. This collection of primary sources brings this important period to life with significant documents and texts. It conveniently assembles major texts, which are otherwise available only in scattered publications. The lives of leading artists--Caravaggio, El Greco, among others---are discussed by their contemporaries, while Bellori, Galileo, Pascoli, and others write on art theory and practice. The documents provide fascinating glimpses of the period's artistic self-image.
Outside of Italy, the country’s culture and its food appear to be essentially synonymous. And indeed, as The Italian Way makes clear, preparing, cooking, and eating food play a central role in the daily activities of Italians from all walks of life. In this beautifully illustrated book, Douglas Harper and Patrizia Faccioli present a fascinating and colorful look at the Italian table.
The Italian Way focuses on two dozen families in the city of Bologna, elegantly weaving together Harper’s outsider perspective with Faccioli’s intimate knowledge of the local customs. The authors interview and observe these families as they go shopping for ingredients, cook together, and argue over who has to wash the dishes. Throughout, the authors elucidate the guiding principle of the Italian table—a delicate balance between the structure of tradition and the joy of improvisation. With its bite-sized history of food in Italy, including the five-hundred-year-old story of the country’s cookbooks, and Harper’s mouth-watering photographs, The Italian Way is a rich repast—insightful, informative, and inviting.
Natalia Ginzburg, arguably the most important woman writer of postwar Italy, always spoke of herself with irrepressible modesty. Yet the woman who claimed she "never managed to climb up mountains" in fact wrote the history of twentieth-century Italy with her sparse and captivating prose, chronicling Fascism, war, and the Nazi occupation as well as the intimacies of family life.
Ginzburg's marriage to Leone Ginzburg, who met his death at the hands of the Nazis for his anti-Fascists activities, and her work for the Einaudi publishing house placed her squarely in the center of Italian political and cultural life. But whether writing about the Turin of her childhood, the Abruzzi countryside, where her family was interned during World War II, or contemporary Rome, Ginzburg never shied away from the traumas of history-even if she approached them only indirectly, through the mundane details and catastrophes of personal life.
Intensely reserved, Ginzburg said that she "crept toward autobiography stealthily like a wolf." But she did openly discuss her life and her work in an extraordinary series of interviews for Italian radio in 1990. Never before published in English, It's Hard to Talk about Yourself presents a vivid portrait of Ginzburg in her own words on the forces that shaped her remarkable life-politics, publishing, literature, and family. This fluid translation will join Ginzburg's autobiography, Family Sayings, as one of the most important records of her life and, as the editors write in their preface, "the last, unexpected, original book by Natalia Ginzburg."
The issue of a woman’s place—and the possibility that she might stray from it—was one of early modern Italy’s most persistent social concerns. Ladies Errant takes as its starting point the vast literature of this era devoted to the proper conduct and education of women. Deanna Shemek uses this foundation to present the problem of wayward feminine behavior as it was perceived to threaten male identity and social order in the artistic and intellectual articulations of the Italian Renaissance. Seeing errancy as an act of resistance rather than of error, Shemek carries her study beyond the didactic and prescriptive literature on femininity in early modern Italy to an arena in which theories about femininity are considered jointly with real and fictional instances of women’s waywardness. As prostitutes, warriors, lovers, and poets, the women of Shemek’s study are found in canonical texts, marginal works, and popular artistic activity, appearing, for instance, in literature, paintings, legal proceedings, and accounts of public festivals. By juxtaposing these varied places of errancy—from Ariosto’s chivalric Orlando furioso to the prostitutes’ race in the Palio di San Giorgio—Shemek points to the important contact between elite and popular cultures in early modernity, revealing the strength and flexibility of a gender boundary fundamental to early modern conceptions of social order.
This volume examines the behavior of clitics both in Italian and in certain southern Italian dialects in order to show that, even within a single language, clitics exhibit different properties. Monachesi argues against the existence of a special class 'clitics' whose elements exhibit variable behavior. Instead, she decomposes and assimilates their properties to those of well established categories. Motivations are thus provided for treating Italian object clitics as affixes. It is shown that both their morphosyntactic and their phonological behavior argue in favor of this assumption. Under this view, a lexicalist analysis is proposed which takes into account the phonological, morphological, and syntactic properties of Italian clitics.
You would as well look for blood in a corpse as for the least shred of decency in a man . . .
Without help from their wives, men are just like unlit lamps . . .
Just think of them as an unreliable clock that tells you it’s ten o’clock when it’s in fact barely two . . .
A man without a woman is like a fly without a head . . .
These are but a small selection of the quips bandied about at this lively gathering of women. The broad topic at hand is the relative pros and cons of men, and the cases in point range from pick-up artists to locker-room talk, and from double standards to fragile masculinity.
Yet this dialogue unfolds not among ironically misandrist millenials venting at their local dive bar, but rather among sixteenth-century women—variously married, widowed, single, and betrothed—attending a respectable Venice garden party. Written in the early 1590s by Moderata Fonte, pseudonym of the Renaissance poet and writer Modesta Pozzo, this literary dialogue interrogates men and men’s treatment of women, and explores by contrast the virtues of singledom and female friendship. As the women diverge from their theme—discussing everything from astrology to the curative powers of plants and minerals—a remarkable group portrait of wisdom, wit, and erudition emerges.
A new introduction by translator Virginia Cox and foreword by Dacia Maraini situate The Merits of Women in its historical context, written as it was on the cusp of Shakespeare’s heyday, and straddling the centuries between the feminist works of Christine de Pizan and Mary Wollstonecraft. Elegantly presented for a general audience, this is a must-read for baby feminists and “nasty women” alike, not to mention the perfect subtle gift for any mansplaining friend who needs a refresher on the merits of women . . . and their superiority to men.
Italian immigrants to the United States and Argentina hungered for the products of home. Merchants imported Italian cheese, wine, olive oil, and other commodities to meet the demand. The two sides met in migrant marketplaces--urban spaces that linked a mobile people with mobile goods in both real and imagined ways. Elizabeth Zanoni provides a cutting-edge comparative look at Italian people and products on the move between 1880 and 1940. Concentrating on foodstuffs--a trade dominated by Italian entrepreneurs in New York and Buenos Aires --Zanoni reveals how consumption of these increasingly global imports affected consumer habits and identities and sparked changing and competing connections between gender, nationality, and ethnicity. Women in particular--by tradition tasked with buying and preparing food--had complex interactions that influenced both global trade and their community economies. Zanoni conveys the complicated and often fraught values and meanings that surrounded food, meals, and shopping.
My Secret Book
Francesco Petrarca Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PQ4496.E29S33 2016 | Dewey Decimal 853.1
Petrarch was the leading spirit in the Renaissance movement to revive literary Latin, the language of the Roman Empire, and Greco-Roman culture in general. My Secret Book reveals a remarkable self-awareness as he probes and evaluates the springs of his own morally dubious addictions to fame and love.
The fields of cookery and medieval food continue to draw the attention of those interested in a panoramic picture of aristocratic and bourgeois social life in the late Middle Ages. In the fifteenth century, wealthy courts in the Italian peninsula led all of Europe in gastronomical achievement. The professional cooks in the service of the Este, Medici, and Borgia families were the most advanced masters of their craft, and some of them bequeathed a record of their practice in manuscript collections of recipes.
Outstanding among these early cookbooks is the one written by an anonymous master cook in Naples toward the end of the century. In its 220 recipes, one can trace not only the Italian culinary practice of the day but also the very refined taste brought by the Catalan royal family when they ruled Naples. This edition—with Terence Scully’s introduction touching on the nature of cookery in the Neapolitano Collection, and English translation of and commentary on the recipes—will give the reader a glimpse into the rich fare available to occupants and guests of one of the greatest houses of late medieval Italy.
The Neapolitan Recipe Collection offers a particularly delicious slice of the primary documentation necessary for understanding the nature of medieval society and one of its most important aspects.
A natural heir of the Renaissance and once tightly conjoined to its study, continental philosophy broke from Renaissance studies around the time of World War II. In The Other Renaissance, Rocco Rubini achieves what many have attempted to do since: bring them back together. Telling the story of modern Italian philosophy through the lens of Renaissance scholarship, he recovers a strand of philosophic history that sought to reactivate the humanist ideals of the Renaissance, even as philosophy elsewhere progressed toward decidedly antihumanist sentiments.
Bookended by Giambattista Vico and Antonio Gramsci, this strand of Renaissance-influenced philosophy rose in reaction to the major revolutions of the time in Italy, such as national unity, fascism, and democracy. Exploring the ways its thinkers critically assimilated the thought of their northern counterparts, Rubini uncovers new possibilities in our intellectual history: that antihumanism could have been forestalled, and that our postmodern condition could have been entirely different. In doing so, he offers an important new way of thinking about the origins of modernity, one that renews a trust in human dignity and the Western legacy as a whole.
Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–75) was one of the most important Italian intellectuals of the post–World War II era. An astonishing polymath—poet, novelist, literary critic, political polemicist, screenwriter, and film director—he exerted profound influence on Italian culture up to his untimely death at the age of fifty-three. This revised edition of what the New York Times Book Review has called “the standard Pasolini biography” introduces the artist to a new generation of readers.
Based on extensive interviews with those who knew Pasolini, both friends and enemies, admirers and detractors, Pasolini Requiem chronicles his growth from poet in the provinces to Italy’s leading “civil poet”; his flight to Rome in 1950; the scandalous success of his two novels and political writing; and his transition to film, where he started as a contributor to the golden age of Italian cinema and ended with the shocking Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom. Pasolini’s tragic and still unsolved murder has remained a subject of contentious debate for four decades. The enduring fascination with who committed the crime—and why—reflects his vital stature in Italy’s political and social history.
Updated throughout and with a new afterword covering the efforts to reopen the investigation—and the legal maelstrom surrounding Pasolini’s demise—this edition of Pasolini Requiem is a riveting account of one of the twentieth century’s most controversial, ever-present iconoclasts.
Although Francesco Petrarca (1304–74) is best known today for cementing the sonnet’s place in literary history, he was also a philosopher, historian, orator, and one of the foremost classical scholars of his age. Petrarch: A Critical Guide to the Complete Works is the only comprehensive, single-volume source to which anyone—scholar, student, or general reader—can turn for information on each of Petrarch’s works, its place in the poet’s oeuvre, and a critical exposition of its defining features.
A sophisticated but accessible handbook that illuminates Petrarch’s love of classical culture, his devout Christianity, his public celebrity, and his struggle for inner peace, this encyclopedic volume covers both Petrarch’s Italian and Latin writings and the various genres in which he excelled: poem, tract, dialogue, oration, and letter. A biographical introduction and chronology anchor the book, making Petrarch an invaluable resource for specialists in Italian, comparative literature, history, classics, religious studies, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance.
Phonetics and Diction in Singing was first published in 1967. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
This book provides rules and illustrative examples for the study of songs and operas in the leading foreign languages of musical literature. The author is conductor and chorus master of the Metropolitan Opera. He has drawn the material from his larger book, The Art of Accompanying and Coaching,to provide a handbook or textbook especially suitable for use by voice teachers, singers, students in high schools, colleges, and schools of music, and members of choruses, church choirs, and opera workshops and their directors. Following a general discussion of phonetics and diction in singing there are separate chapters on Italian, French, Spanish, and German phonetics and diction. The text is illustrated with drawings and diagrams of vocal techniques and musical examples.
Soon after the disparate states of the Italian peninsula unified in the 1860s to create a single nation, the nationalist Massimo D’Azeglio is said to have remarked, “We have made Italy, now we have to make Italians.” The Pinocchio Effect draws on a remarkably broad array of sources to trace this making of a modern national identity in Italy, a subject that remains strikingly understudied in the English-speaking world of Italian studies.
Taking as her guiding metaphor the character of Pinocchio—a national icon made famous in 1881 by the eponymous children’s book—Susan Stewart-Steinberg argues that just like the renowned puppet, modern Italians were caught in a complex interplay between freely chosen submission and submission demanded by an outside force. In doing so, she explores all the ways that identity was constructed through newly formed attachments, voluntary and otherwise, to the young nation. Featuring deft readings of the period’s most important Italian cultural and social thinkers—including the theorist of mass psychology Scipio Sighele, the authors Matilde Serao and Edmondo De Amicis, the criminologist Cesare Lombroso, and the pedagogue Maria Montessori—Stewart-Steinberg’s richly multidisciplinary book will set a new standard in Italian studies.
Fairy tales are supposed to be magical, surprising, and exhilarating, an enchanting counterpoint to everyday life that nonetheless helps us understand and deal with the anxieties of that life. Today, however, fairy tales are far from marvelous—in the hands of Hollywood, they have been stripped of their power, offering little but formulaic narratives and tame surprises.
If we want to rediscover the power of fairy tales—as Armando Maggi thinks we should—we need to discover a new mythic lens, a new way of approaching and understanding, and thus re-creating, the transformative potential of these stories. In Preserving the Spell, Maggi argues that the first step is to understand the history of the various traditions of oral and written narrative that together created the fairy tales we know today. He begins his exploration with the ur-text of European fairy tales, Giambattista Basile’s The Tale of Tales, then traces its path through later Italian, French, English, and German traditions, with particular emphasis on the Grimm Brothers’ adaptations of the tales, which are included in the first-ever English translation in an appendix. Carrying his story into the twentieth century, Maggi mounts a powerful argument for freeing fairy tales from their bland contemporary forms, and reinvigorating our belief that we still can find new, powerfully transformative ways of telling these stories.
Catherine of Siena (1347–1380) wrote almost four hundred epistles in her lifetime, effectively insinuating herself into the literary, political, and theological debates of her day. At the same time, as the daughter of a Sienese dyer, Catherine had no formal education, and her accomplishments were considered miracles rather than the work of her own hand. As a result, she has been largely excluded from accounts of the development of European humanism and the language and literature of Italy. Reclaiming Catherine ofSiena makes the case for considering Catherine alongside literary giants such as Dante and Petrarch, as it underscores Catherine's commitment to using the vernacular to manifest Christ's message—and her own.
Jane Tylus charts here the contested struggles of scholars over the centuries to situate Catherine in the history of Italian culture in early modernity. But she mainly focuses on Catherine’s works, calling attention to the interplay between orality and textuality in the letters and demonstrating why it was so important for Catherine to envision herself as a writer. Tylus argues for a reevalution of Catherine as not just a medieval saint, but one of the major figures at the birth of the Italian literary canon.
Lucrezia Tornabuoni de' Medici University of Chicago Press, 2001 Library of Congress PQ4664.T59P613 2001 | Dewey Decimal 851.2
The most prominent woman in Renaissance Florence, Lucrezia Tornabuoni de' Medici (1425-1482) lived during her city's golden age. Wife of Piero de' Medici and mother of Lorenzo the Magnificent, Tornabuoni exerted considerable influence on Florence's political and social affairs. She was also, as this volume illustrates, a gifted and prolific poet.
This is the first major collection in any language of her extensive body of religious poems. Ranging from gentle lyrics on the Nativity to moving dialogues between a crucified Christ and the weeping sinner who kneels before him, the nine laudi (poems of praise) included here are among the few such poems known to have been written by a woman. Tornabuoni's five storie sacre, narrative poems based on the lives of biblical figures-three of whom, Judith, Susanna, and Esther, are Old Testament heroines-are virtually unique in their range and expressiveness. Together with Jane Tylus's substantial introduction, these poems offer us both a fascinating portrait of a highly educated and creative woman and a lively sense of cultural and social life in Renaissance Florence.
In the decades before the rise of the Third Reich, “Secret Germany” was a phrase used by the circle of writers around the poet Stefan George to describe a collective political and poetic project: the introduction of the highest values of art into everyday life, the secularization of myth and the mythologization of history. In this book, Furio Jesi takes up the term in order to trace the contours of that political, artistic, and aesthetic thread as it runs through German literary and artistic culture in the period—which, in the 1930s, became absorbed by Nazism as part of its prophecy of a triumphant future. Drawing on thinkers like Carl Jung and writers such as Thomas Mann and Rainer Maria Rilke, Jesi reveals a literary genre that was transformed, tragically, into a potent political myth.
Precious repositories of ancient wisdom? Musty relics of outmoded culture? Timeless paragons of artistic achievement? Hegemonic tools of intellectual repression? Just what are the classics, anyway, and why do (or should) we still pay so much attention to them? What is the literary canon? What is myth, and how do we use it?
These are some of the questions that gave rise to John Kirby's Secret of the Muses Retold. This new study of works by five twentieth-century Italian writers investigates the abiding influence of the Greek and Roman classics, and their rich legacy in our own day. The result is not only a splendid introduction to contemporary Italian literature, but also a lucid and stimulating meditation on the insights that writers such as Umberto Eco and Italo Calvino have tapped from the wellspring of ancient tradition.
Kirby's book offers an impassioned plea for the recuperation of the humanities in general, and of classical studies in particular. No expertise in Greek, Latin, Italian, or literary theory is presumed, and both traditional and postmodern perspectives are accommodated.
With Secular Scriptures: Modern Theological Poetics in the Wake of Dante, William Franke reexamines the role that literature plays in theological revelation. In the modern world, secularism typically means the exclusion of God from the world. Yet Franke, recognizing that secularity itself is built into religion and revelation, argues that theologically sensitive poetry has driven secularization throughout the modern period. The essays in this volume construct a trajectory through modern poetic literature as it struggled with the sense of a loss of the very possibility of theological revelation. Can literature replace religion? Can it do so triumphantly or only mournfully? Is this literary transmogrification of revelation the death of religion or its rebirth in a vital new form? Secular Scriptures examines, through its own original speculative outlook, some of the most compelling exemplars of religious-poetic revelation in modern Western literature. The essays taken as an ensemble revolve around and are bookended by Dante, but they also explore the work of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Blake, Leopardi, Baudelaire, Dickinson, and Yeats. Looking both backward and forward from the vantage of Dante, Franke explores the roots of secularized religious vision in antiquity and the Middle Ages, even as he also looks forward toward its fruits in modern poetry and poetics. Ultimately, Franke’s analyses demonstrate the possibilities opened by understanding literature as secularized religious revelation.
Madeleine de l’Aubespine (1546–1596), the toast of courtly and literary circles in sixteenth-century Paris, penned beautiful love poems to famous women of her day. The well-connected daughter and wife of prominent French secretaries of state, l’Aubespine was celebrated by her male peers for her erotic lyricism and scathingly original voice.
Rather than adopt the conventional self-effacement that defined female poets of the time, l’Aubespine’s speakers are sexual, dominant, and defiant; and her subjects are women who are able to manipulate, rebuke, and even humiliate men.
Unavailable in English until now and only recently identified from scattered and sometimes misattributed sources, l’Aubespine’s poems and literary works are presented here in Anna Klosowska’s vibrant translation. This collection, which features one of the first French lesbian sonnets as well as reproductions of l’Aubespine’s poetic translations of Ovid and Ariosto, will be heralded by students and scholars in literature, history, and women’s studies as an important addition to the Renaissance canon.
Chiara Matraini (1515–1604?) was a member of the great flowering of poetic imitators and innovators in the Italian literary heritage begun by Petrarch, cultivated later by the lyric poet Pietro Bembo, and supplanted by the epic poet Torquato Tasso. Though without formal training, Matraini excelled in a number of literary genres popular at the time—poetry, religious meditation, discourse, and dialogue. In her midlife, she published a collection of erotic love poetry, but later in life her work shifted toward a search for spiritual salvation. Near the end of her life, she published a new poetry retrospective.
Mostly available in only a handful of rare book collections, her writings are now adeptly translated here for an English-speaking audience and situated historically in an introduction by noted Matraini expert Giovanna Rabitti. Selected Poetry and Prose allows the poet to finally take her place as one of the seminal authors of the Renaissance, next to her contemporaries Vittoria Colonna and Laura Battiferra, also published in the Other Voice series.
Most people outside Italy know Pier Paolo Pasolini for his films, many of which began as literary works—Arabian Nights, The Gospel According to Matthew, The Decameron, and The Canterbury Tales among them. What most people are not aware of is that he was primarily a poet, publishing nineteen books of poems during his lifetime, as well as a visual artist, novelist, playwright, and journalist. Half a dozen of these books have been excerpted and published in English over the years, but even if one were to read all of those, the wide range of poetic styles and subjects that occupied Pasolini during his lifetime would still elude the English-language reader.
For the first time, Anglophones will now be able to discover the many facets of this singular poet. Avoiding the tactics of the slim, idiosyncratic, and aesthetically or politically motivated volumes currently available in English, Stephen Sartarelli has chosen poems from every period of Pasolini’s poetic oeuvre. In doing so, he gives English-language readers a more complete picture of the poet, whose verse ranged from short lyrics to longer poems and extended sequences, and whose themes ran not only to the moral, spiritual, and social spheres but also to the aesthetic and sexual, for which he is most known in the United States today. This volume shows how central poetry was to Pasolini, no matter what else he was doing in his creative life, and how poetry informed all of his work from the visual arts to his political essays to his films. Pier Paolo Pasolini was “a poet of the cinema,” as James Ivory says in the book’s foreword, who “left a trove of words on paper that can live on as the fast-deteriorating images he created on celluloid cannot.”
This generous selection of poems will be welcomed by poetry lovers and film buffs alike and will be an event in American letters.
Siena: City of Secrets
Jane Tylus University of Chicago Press, 2015 Library of Congress DG975.S5T95 2015 | Dewey Decimal 945.581
Jane Tylus’s Siena is a compelling and intimate portrait of this most secretive of cities, often overlooked by travelers to Italy. Cultural history, intellectual memoir, travelogue, and guidebook, it takes the reader on a quest of discovery through the well- and not-so-well-traveled roads and alleys of a town both medieval and modern.
As Tylus leads us through the city, she shares her passion for Siena in novelistic prose, while never losing sight of the historical complexities that have made Siena one of the most fascinating and beautiful towns in Europe. Today, Siena can appear on the surface standoffish and old-fashioned, especially when compared to its larger, flashier cousins Rome and Florence. But first impressions wear away as we learn from Tylus that Siena was an innovator among the cities of Italy: the first to legislate the building and maintenance of its streets, the first to publicly fund its university, the first to institute a municipal bank, and even the first to ban automobile traffic from its city center.
We learn about Siena’s great artistic and architectural past, hidden behind centuries of painting and rebuilding, and about the distinctive characters of its different neighborhoods, exemplified in the Palio, the highly competitive horserace that takes place twice a year in the city’s main piazza and that serves as both a dividing and a uniting force for the Sienese. Throughout we are guided by the assured voice of a seasoned scholar with a gift for spinning a good story and an eye for the telling detail, whether we are traveling Siena’s modern highways, exploring its underground tunnels, tracking the city’s financial history, or celebrating giants of painting like Simone Martini or giants of the arena, Siena’s former Serie A soccer team.
A practical and engaging guide for tourists and armchair travelers alike, Siena is a testament to the powers of community and resilience in a place that is not quite as timeless and serene as it may at first appear.
Sonnets and Shorter Poems
Francesco Petrarch Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress PQ4496.E23S58 2012 | Dewey Decimal 851.1
In Petrarch’s hands, lyric verse was transformed from an expression of courtly devotion into a way of conversing with one’s own heart and mind. David Slavitt renders the sonnets in Il Canzoniere, along with the shorter madrigals and ballate, in a sparkling and engaging idiom and in rhythm and rhyme that do justice to Petrarch’s achievement.
Through six earlier books Karl Kirchwey has rewarded readers with poems of great musicality, visual richness, and historical resonance. Stumbling Blocks: Roman Poems represents a culmination of his “formal mastery”—an honor often too loosely bestowed in contemporary American poetry, but one Kirchwey thoroughly earns.
As in his 1998 New York Times Notable Book The Engrafted Word, the city of Rome becomes a lens through which to understand the contemporary human experience and the upheavals of human loss. Stumbling Blocks takes as its starting point the shattered ancient Roman ruins described in Renaissance poet Joachim du Bellay's celebrated sonnet—a landscape of death feeding upon itself and restored to life in the imagination of each successive generation to salvage its own narratives.
Kirchwey builds new arches and mythological intersections in exquisite poems that take long walks in the Eternal City, through landscapes far away and deep within. This gorgeous collection takes us back in time and brings us forward through our Old and New Worlds, revealing through the religion of art both beauty and atrocity.
Milo De Angelis, born in 1951, is one of the most important living Italian poets. With this volume, Susan Stewart and Patrizio Ceccagnoli bring to English readers for the first time a facing-page edition of his most recent work: his book-length elegy, Theme of Farewell, and the subsequent poems of That Wandering in the Darkness of Courtyards. These two books form a sequence narrating the illness and premature death, in 2003, of the poet’s wife, the writer Giovanna Sicari, a celebrated poet in her own right; they also trace De Angelis’s turn from grief, through time, back to the world. Immediate, perceptive, and woven from the fabric of everyday life in contemporary Milan, the poems never depart from universal human emotions of despair and awakening. Throughout his long career, De Angelis has renewed lyric poetry with the sheer intensity of his forms and insights, and the volumes offered here have won some of the most important Italian literary awards, including the coveted Premio Viareggio.
These inexorable and beautifully crafted translations will be of interest to scholars of contemporary Italian literature, students of contemporary poetry and literary translation, and those who work in comparative literature. Above all, they are bound to speak to any reader in search of a poet writing at the height of his powers of expression.
Vengeance of the Victim was first published in 1986. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
More profoundly than any documentary record, the collected fiction of Giorgio Bassani—Il Romanzo di Ferrara — captures a very particular and powerful historical reality: Italian Jewish life under Fascism, especially between the passage of the so-called racial laws in 1938 and the end of World War II. Set primarily in the provincial city of Ferrara, Bassani's narratives interweave themes of death, victimization, betrayal, survival, and artistic production. His best-known novel, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis — and other works that concentrate on the crucial years of 1938-1945—stand at the center of the Romanzo.They are preceded by texts that look back on Jewish life in the liberal era of the Risorgimento, and followed by texts set in the liberated, democratic society of the postwar years. These framing narratives provide a space for remembrance and reflection.
Marilyn Schneider's aim, in Vengeance of the Victim, is to uncover the symbolic layers — historical, spatial, topographical, mythopoeic, allegorical, and sexual — that five Bassani's texts their richness and ambiguity, and in so doing to achieve a full understanding of his work and its representation of the Italian Jewish experience. Death and victimization, which pervade these texts, set in motion a process of artistic renewal that is most fully embodied in the vibrant young Micol Finzi-Contini, Bassani's textual icon and a victim of the Holocaust. Schneider also finds that the narratives, especially the late ones, pay self-reflexive attention to the creation of the text, constructing an authorial persona engaged in an existential, moral, and artistic journey from symbolic death to rebirth. It is the writing subject's successful completion of the journey that constitutes the vengeance of the victim.
First published in Italian in 1968, The World Saved by Kids was written in the aftermath of deep personal change and in the context of what Elsa Morante called the “great youth movement exploding against the funereal machinations of the organized contemporary world.” Morante believed that it was only the youth who could truly hear her revolutionary call. With the fiftieth anniversary of the tumultuous events of 1968 approaching, there couldn’t be a more timely moment for this first English translation of Morante’s work to appear.
Greeted by Antonio Porta as one of the most important books of its decade, The World Saved by Kids showcases Morante’s true mastery of tone, rhythm, and imagery as she works elegy, parody, storytelling, song, and more into an act of linguistic magic through which Gramsci and Rimbaud, Christ and Antigone, Mozart and Simone Weil, and a host of other figures join the sassy, vulnerable neighborhood kids in a renewal of the word’s timeless, revolutionary power to explore and celebrate life’s insoluble paradox.
Morante gained international recognition and critical acclaim for her novels History, Arturo’s Island, and Aracoeli, and The World Saved By Kids may be her best book and the one that most closely represents her spirit.