- International ScholarshipItalian Contributions
This year’s Italian scholarship includes mono- and multithematic essay collections and several editions of primary texts translated for the first time or retranslated, typically provided with new critical apparatus. Their variety of methods and themes makes these studies significant at both the national and international level.
a. Essay Collections
Modes and Facets of the American Scene: Studies in Honor of Cristina Giorcelli, ed. Dominique Marçais (Palermo: ILA Palma), published in honor of the distinguished Italian Americanist recently retired from the Roma Tre University, is an impressive collection of 24 essays penned by major scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. It opens with Alexander Bloom’s “Abraham Lincoln, the 1960s, and Barack Obama: Restoring the Lost Connections” (pp. 11–28), examining Lincoln in the literature and culture of the 20th century. Bloom discusses in particular Lincoln’s role as inspiring model for the radicals of the 1930s and his partial canonization in the 1960s (culminating with the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968). In “Footnoting Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove” (pp. 29–44) Alide Cagidemetrio stretches the boundaries of literary criticism, as she herself argues, by writing an essay comprising footnotes dedicated to significant terms (“Wings,” “Doves,” “Britannia of the Market-Place,” “Mental annexation of her country”) or passages in one of James’s major-phase masterpieces and adding new intertextual information that expands the interpretation of this classic. In “Interest, Contexts, and Languages: Intellectual History and the Writing of the Life of an American Romantic” (pp. 45–54) Charles Capper reflects on the research method he used for writing his two-volume biography of Margaret Fuller, arguing that the exceptional character of her oeuvre was primarily the product of her subtle reworking of Romantic influences and languages. In “The Black Muckracker in J. McHenry Jones’s Hearts of Gold: Rediscovered Texts, Pedagogy, and [End Page 448] the Progressive Era” (pp. 55–64) Maria Giulia Fabi discusses a forgotten late-19th-century African American novel featuring a black activist and newspaper editor as protagonist. Fabi shows how this novel transcends any merely documentary concern, allowing for a metanarrative reflection on issues such as segregation, lynching, and the convict-lease system in the South. In “The Passing of Cultural Constructs: Melville in the Latin Quarter” (pp. 65–78) Michel Imbert speculates on Herman Melville’s 1849 brief sojourn in Paris, arguing that his visit to some of the city’s historic and touristic sites may have inspired significant passages in his fiction. In “The Lessons of Failure: Matter and Spirit in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘The Artist of the Beautiful’” (pp. 79–84) Wilfred M. McClay examines Hawthorne’s insight into the ambivalent power of modern technology and human effort to control human existence, focusing on the theme of the “spiritualization of matter” in one of the writer’s most celebrated stories. In “Child of Darkness: Stephen Crane and The Black Riders and Other Lines” (pp. 95–116) Giuseppe Nori concentrates on Crane’s first volume of poetry in the context of late-19th-century literary currents. Defining the work as a unique example of “a Biblical poetics of the fin de siècle,” Nori notes its formal innovations (allegorical method revisited with a contemporary taste for experimentation and concision), the presence of a constant clash between subjectivity and objectivity, and a subversive bent toward unholiness and blasphemy. In “The Anti-slave: From Emerson to Obama” (pp. 117–30) Donald E. Pease investigates the cultural legacy and the rupture of the social symbolic order provided by the figure of the antislave as it emerges in Emerson’s radical imagination (through his interpretation of Touissant L’Ouverture and the Haitian revolution) and is more recently reflected the election of President Barack Obama. In “What Would James Do? Recent Literary Adaptations of Henry James” (pp. 131–42) John Carlos Rowe discusses the renewed interest in James in American writing of the past 20 years, focusing in particular on this writer’s influence on Cynthia Ozick’s Foreign Bodies and Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom (2010) and the allusions to James in Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer (1979) and Exit Ghost (2007). In...