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

A History of Early Italian American Literature with a Critical Anthology

Martino Marazzi

Publication Year: 2011

Voices of Italian America presents the first authoritative study and anthology of the largely Italian-language literature written and published in the U.S. from the heydays of the Great Migration (1880-1920) to the almost definitive demise of the cultural world of the first generation soon before and after WWII. The volume resurrects the neglected and even forgotten territory of a nation-wide "Little Italy" where people wrote, talked, read, and consumed the various forms of entertainment mostly in their native Italian language, in a complex interplay with native dialects and surrounding American English.In the anthological sections we read, among others, excerpts from the ethnically-tinged thrillers by Tuscan-born first-comer Bernardino Ciambelli, as well as the first short-stories by Italian American women, set in the Gilded Age. The fiction of political activists such as Carlo Tresca coexists with the hard-boiled autobiography of Italian American cop Mike Fiaschetti, fighting against the Mafia. Voices presents new material by English-speaking classics such as Pietro di Donato and John Fante, and a selection of poetry by a great bilingual voice, the champion of the masses and IWW poet Arturo Giovannitti, and by a lesser-known, self-taught, satyrical versifier, Riccardo Cordiferro/Ironheart. Controversial documents on the difficult interracial relations between Italian- and African Americans live side by side with the first poignant chronicles from Ellis Island.The goal of this study is to shed light on the "fabrication" of a new culture of immigrant origins pliable, dynamic, constantly shifting and transforming itself and to do that focusing on stories, genres, rhythms, the"human touch" contributed by literature in its wider sense. Ultimately, through a rich sample of significant texts covering various aspects of the immigrant experience, Voices offers the reader a literary history of Italian American culture. It lets American readers be acquainted with a history very ideologically and artistically diverse, issued from a collective experience full, at the same time, with tragedy and fun. Such a literature is an eye-opening testimony of what happens to a culture when it migrates, and of how, in what form, both linguistically and rhetorically, it expresses itself, in the long and often unnoticed way toward assimilation.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 7-10


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pp. 11-14

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pp. 15-21

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...

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1. The Novel of the Italian in America

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pp. 22-151

Thus Emilio Cecchi wrote at the height of the most American period of the Italian twentieth century, introducing sympathetically, but cautiously and with a certain skepticism, two young Italian American novelists: John Fante and Pietro di Donato. Vittorini’s Americana (1941) had been published and then withdrawn and finally brought...

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2. Stowaway on Board: Ezio Taddei

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pp. 152-177

By common consent, the war years mark a watershed in the history of the immigrant community. In spite of hesitations among the masses and the sometimes devious or simply opportunistic tactics of the political and union leaders of the community, the Americanization of the Italian Americans was consolidated. The stigma of “enemy...

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3. The New World of the Second Generation:Pietro di Donato and John Fante

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pp. 178-190

The rise of the second generation, which offers a very different expressive world, is well represented by two notable “neo- Americans,” Pietro di Donato and John Fante. By the end of the thirties, as I’ve said, narrative in Italian was clearly on a downswing. Bearing witness to this is the scarcity of production, the dark and...

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4. Poetry of the Italian Americans

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pp. 191-253

One of the largest and most interesting manifestations of “immigrant” literature was poetry, which accompanied the immigrants from the start, one could say, even before the historic exodus bridging the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The poetry of the Little Italies is a constant, as attested by its long history in the immigrant...

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5. Prose of Testimony: the Color Line

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pp. 254-269

few years ago, Mario Maffi, introducing the first important anthology of stories and essays by Latinos in the United States to appear in Italy, deliberately spoke of “writings” rather than writers.1 Despite the obvious differences, many writings of a critical and creative nature by Italian Americans, too, could only remotely be...

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6. At Ellis Island

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pp. 270-291

The essential collective, shared experience, that nearly inevitable passage through the halls of Ellis Island, was closely observed by Edward, or Edoardo, Corsi, in a classic text, In the Shadow of Liberty. Corsi was a son of the exodus who rose to become commissioner of immigration, a ferryman of souls, so to speak. His autobiographical...

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7. Italian Americans and Italian Writers

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pp. 292-306

Broadway, the writer Luigi Donato Ventura recalled at the end of the nineteenth century, also existed in Viggiano, in Lucania. And after more than half a century Carlo Levi confirmed it: Christ stopped at Eboli, but not the green dollar bill, the photographs of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the dream and the memory of emigration...


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pp. 307-321


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pp. 322-336


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pp. 337-344

E-ISBN-13: 9780823246571
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823239733
Print-ISBN-10: 082323973X

Page Count: 348
Publication Year: 2011