Voices of Italian America: A History of Early Italian American Literature with a Critical Anthology

Voices of Italian America: A History of Early Italian American Literature with a Critical Anthology

Voices of Italian America: A History of Early Italian American Literature with a Critical Anthology

Voices of Italian America: A History of Early Italian American Literature with a Critical Anthology

Synopsis

An unprecedented exodus that brought millions of Italians to the New World, the Great Migration has been studied mainly in its historical, social, and ethnographical dimensions. This is a history of the rich and varied literary fabric to be found in the teeming Little Italies of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Excerpt

(I believe more and more in geographical reasons, these fundamental truths)

—Alberto Savinio

Perhaps … ultimately, the United States is more Italian than Dutch, German, Russian, Spanish, and even more Italian than Wasp.

—Paul Virilio

THIS BOOK HAS THE GOOD FORTUNE, SO TO SPEAK, TO TELL A STORY that is over; that is to say, a story that has, with reliable approximation, both a beginning and an end. Italian Americans are still present in the United States, even in the literary sense—in fact, more than ever. But the Italian America that speaks and writes in Italian and its dialects, above all in the literary sense, has disappeared forever. Giuseppe Prezzolini, following Handlin's classic vision of the “uprooted American, ” saw the situation of the “transplanted” in the United States as a failure: a tragic failure both in its human implications (the “schizophrenia” of the immigrant, divided between two worlds) and in the historical-cultural sense (the “low” humanity of the Italian Americans contradicted every possible idea of Italian national “primacy”). It was a vision in its way grandiose, but with a negative bias. In place of the notion and the image of the fall I would substitute that of loss, which is no less problematic for those who experienced it but is limited to certain aspects of the complex cultural dynamic set in motion by the collective, traumatic uprooting that was the Great Migration. Assimilation, adjustment, and generational conflict begin during and after the loss: a whole world and a series of problems that follow separation but, although intimately connected, are distinct from it. This study does not deal with those, except in passing.

Anyone who decides to examine the traces of this story, teeming with lives, events, names, and titles, does so therefore with the knowledge that he is revealing a finite world. The moral, if there is one, lies . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.