Darkest Italy

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Stereotypical representations of the Mezzogiorno are a persistent feature of Italian culture at all levels. In Darkest Italy, John Dickie analyzes these stereotypes in the post-Unification period, when the Mezzogiorno was widely seen as barbaric, violent or irrational, an "Africa" on the European continent. At the same time, this is the moment when the Mezzogiorno became a metaphor for the state of the country as a whole, the index of Italy’s modernity. Dickie argues that these stereotypes, rather than being a symptom of the failings of national identity in Italy, were actually integral to the way Italy’s bourgeoisie imagined themselves as Italian. Drawing on recent theories of Otherness and national identity, Dickie brings a new light to an important and well-established area of Italian history--the relationship between the South and the nation as a whole.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This interpretive study. . .is attractively well-written." --American Historical Review

Library Journal
Defining a nation's identity can involve the use of an "other," a foreign and alien group to which the bourgeoisie can (favorably) compare themselves. For newly united Italy in the late 19th century, that group was its own southern inhabitants, especially Sicilians. Southerners were seen as violent, ill-mannered brigands and peasants, barely able to function in a civilized, industrialized society. Dickie (Italian studies, Univ. College, London) sketches aspects of this dialectic in four short essays, examining the objectification of southerners by politicians, writers, and the public at large. Dickie's tone is dense and theoretical enough to limit its audience to advanced scholars. Some of the sections are too narrow and specific, while others try to tackle too many topics too quickly. While some good points are made, the result is somewhat esoteric. For academic libraries with strong Italy collections only.--Robert Persing, Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib., Philadelphia Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
In four essays, Dickie (Italian studies, U. College London) looks at the centers of power in the newly unified Italy stereotyped people in its southern third as barbarous, primitive, violent, irrational, feminine, and African. He argues that such representation was a foil without which Italians in the north could not have forged a sense of national identity. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312221683
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 8/1/1999
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

John Dickie is Lecturer in Italian Studies at University College London.

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Table of Contents

• A World at War: The Italian Army and Brigandage
• The Birth of the Southern Question
• The Power of the Picturesque: Representations of the South in the Illustrazione Italiana
• Francesco Crispi’s Sicilianitë
• Conclusion

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