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  • Italian Contributions
  • Andrea Mariani

As in 1998, Italian contributions to American literary scholarship were characterized this year by a series of remarkable collections, either totally devoted to the investigation of American authors and themes or including, as major essays, articles pertaining to the literature of the United States. Examples of the former are Incroci di genere, ed. Mario Corona (Bergamo: Sestante); La formazione di una cultura nazionale, ed. Alessandro Portelli (Rome: Carocci); La parola e le armi, ed. Giorgio Mariani (Milan: Marcos y Marcos); while the latter is represented by Gioco di specchi, ed. Agostino Lombardo (Rome: Bulzoni); Abito e identità, 3rd vol., ed. Cristina Giorcelli (Rome: Edizioni Associate); Il meraviglioso teatrale tra fiaba e magia, ed. Rosalba Gasparro and Roberta Mullini (Pescara: Tracce); and Ai confini dei generi: Casi di ibridismo letterario, ed. Alberto Destro and Annamaria Sportelli (Bari: Graphis). [End Page 484]

American scholarship in Italy is notable for its comparative, intertextual, and often intersemiotic methods—a tendency conspicuously testified by many proceedings of conferences and symposia. Among these are Il centauro anglo-americano: culture di lingua inglese a confronto, ed. Ravaella Baccolini, Carla Comellini, and Vita Fortunati (Bologna: CLUEB), which was published late in 1998. The very titles of contributions confirm my words about intertextuality.

The essays most relevant to such a theme include Francesca Orestano's "The Picturesque: English and American Capabilities," which reads the phenomenology of the picturesque and its interpretations in England and America, from Lancelot Brown, through Jefferson, and Whitman, to Poe and Hawthorne. Silvia Bigliazzi's "Il segno del silenzio: E. Pound e T. S. Eliot" discusses the modernist strategy of elision and silence in two "founding fathers" of modernism. Laura Giovannelli's "Una stagione perenne: lo spazio americano nella poesia di T. S. Eliot" concentrates on Eliot and vindicates the importance of the "American" space in his poetry. Silvia Albertazzi's "T. S. Eliot, Terry Gilliam e il mito del Re Pescatore" offers a fascinating intersemiotic interpretation of a myth at the center of modernist preoccupations. Stefano Manferlotti's "Nabokov legge gli inglesi" perceptively studies the importance of British hypotexts as ideological sources for literary strategies in Vladimir Nabokov. Anna-maria Palombi Cataldi provides us with a comparative analysis of William Golding's and Bernard Malamud's uses of the theme of the island ("L'isola come microcosmo in Lord of the Flies and God's Grace). Finally, Rita Severi attempts to describe the interaction between reality and myth in the visions of African American characters on both sides of the Atlantic ("Niggers/Negroes: From Reality to Myth in Anglo-American Fiction"), while Paola Zaccaria ("Espatrio, esilio, migrazione: soggetti in transito e testi di transizione dal modernismo alla contemporaneità") analyzes a series of liminal authors and texts, laying the foundations for her Mappe senza frontiere (reviewed below).

a. General Work, Criticism

Antonio Scurati's "La questione della 'base materiale' nella teoria statunitense della retorica testuale" (Ácoma 16: 63- 79) offers a good example of young Italian critics' awareness of the latest debates about rhetoric. Using Paul de Man, Scurati describes J. Hillis Miller's "contradictions" and his need to adjust the opposing forces of the theory and ethics of reading to the demands of the "material base." De Man's theory is accepted insofar as it is seen as a "theory of culture" in [End Page 485] an anthropological sense. A most opportune commentary to the arduous passages of Scurati's essay is offered in the same issue of Ácoma by Stefano Rosso's unabridged interview with de Man (1983), which had never been published in Italian (pp. 80-85).

Marco Pustianaz's "L'ombra dell'oggetto. Identità, identificazioni, dis-identificazioni" (pp. 9-45 in Incontri di genere. De(i)stituzioni, transitività e passaggi testuali, ed. Mario Corona [Bergamo: Sestante]) begins by profiting from Diana Fuss's Essentially Speaking and Identification Papers, then uses Judith Butler's Bodies That Matter to verify the shifting of identity on ethnic, sexual, and political planes. The long central section of the essay reads a controversial Italian novel, Vittorio Pescatori's La Maschia (1979), along the lines of Fuss's and Butler's discourse, with a final quotation from Frantz Fanon's Black Skins, White...


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