The Value of Worthless Lives
Writing Italian American Immigrant Autobiographies
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Fordham University Press
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Nello is buried on a Tuscan cliff that looks toward the tiny island of Giglio, which he left as a young boy in order to emigrate to America. Nello’s attachment to his homeland was so strong that he even named his daughter Elba, after the much larger neighboring island. ...
Autobiography: The Literary Genre of Immigration
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If a novel lays out an imagined immigration, and poetry offers us a distilled and rarefied immigration, autobiographies provide us with the most real and sincere account of the process and effects of immigration that we could have. Letters also contribute an important voice...
The Working-Class Writer
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Most of the autobiographies reviewed in this section are characterized by how central work is to the immigrant’s life. Often the person chose to migrate out of the desire to find or change jobs. Indeed, ‘‘work’’ is an American value that these immigrants have internalized; for most American...
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These Italian immigrants came to America to pursue an artistic dream; but they remain ‘‘immigrant workers’’ at heart. They strongly maintain the ethos of the artisan, with its mixture of manual labor and creativity, more than pretenses of artistic genius. They tell their stories in the quiet...
The Spiritual Immigrant
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Of the next five autobiographies, three are of men for whom years of work gave birth to a new man—a man of God, a convert to spiritual faith. Luigi Turco, Constantine Panunzio, and Antonio Arrighi came to America as immigrant boys. They were not satisfied with the material enrichment...
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It is rare to find women’s voices among immigrant autobiographies. In the early years, there were fewer female than male immigrants, although the proportion increased steadily over the century, comprising a third of the total immigrants in the 1830s but more than half of the total after 1930s.1 ...
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The writers of the autobiographies in this last chapter have achieved success as doctors, professors, or business people, so they belong to a different social class than the rest of our immigrant autobiographers. All share the work ethic that defined our earlier groups of Italian immigrants...
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We have now witnessed in these pages proof of the reversal of Giuseppe Prezzolini’s 1963 conclusions about Italian immigrant autobiography—his claim, which we read earlier, that the immigrants didn’t want to remember their past, how they left no written word, how ‘‘Immigration...
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Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2007