Italian-American Folklore: Proverbs, Songs, Games, Folktales, Foodways, Superstitions, Folk Remedies and More

Overview

Though much has been written about Italian Americans--one of the largest ethnic groups in the U.S.--in popular fiction and film, many of the images are based on stereotypes not borne out among the assimilated population. This book draws its material directly from Americans of Italian descent in both urban and rural communities, detailing how customs vary among the Italian provinces, and more. 30 photographs. Bibliography and index.
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Overview

Though much has been written about Italian Americans--one of the largest ethnic groups in the U.S.--in popular fiction and film, many of the images are based on stereotypes not borne out among the assimilated population. This book draws its material directly from Americans of Italian descent in both urban and rural communities, detailing how customs vary among the Italian provinces, and more. 30 photographs. Bibliography and index.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Based on published research, fiction and interviews, this work offers an diverting overview of the popular cultural baggage--customs, beliefs and entertainments--that Italian immigrants brought to America (and some embellishments they added as they adapted to their new life). At best, the book informs without being too scholarly for the general reader (for example, a discussion of folk superstitions is introduced by the insight that some immigrant Italians found the Catholic Church in the U.S. to be more legalistic and formal than the Catholic Church in Italy). But at times the authors seem merely to be ticking items off a list, as when they enumerate folk medicine cures--rubbing urine on one's forehead or wearing a crown of lemon leaves to cure a headache--without hinting when, where or why the cures were used. However, those who grew up listening to folk tales and proverbs or hearing about St. Joseph's Day food offerings and the ``evil eye'' may page through this work for the fun of it or even because, as the authors note, such traditions ``help people know who they are.'' Malpezzi and Clements teach English and folklore at Arkansas State University. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Folklorists Malpezzi and Clements have produced a colorful overview of the folkways of Italian immigrants and their descendants in the United States. Following an introduction of other scholars' efforts to collect data about Italian American folk customs, the authors present a history of Italian immigration from Europe to the eastern United States and California (which began largely around 1880). The lore of a broad cross section of Italian Americans is then analyzed through chapters on conversation, life rituals, religious days and other important events, supernatural beliefs and medicine, recreation, storytelling, performing arts, and food. Other folklore studies, such as Elizabeth Mathias and Richard Raspa's Italian Folktales in America: The Verbal Art of an Immigrant Woman ( LJ 9/1/85), focus on lore from one Italian person or region; the strength of this volume is its interview materials and data representing many Italian Americans. For ethnic/immigrant and folklore collections. (Photos and index not seen.)-- Christina Carter, California State Univ. Lib., Fresno
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874832785
  • Publisher: August House Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/29/2000
  • Series: American Folklore Ser.
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 272

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