Voices of Italian America: A History of Early Italian American Literature

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This book presents for the first time in English a substantial choice of texts (excerpts from novels, short stories, memoirs, and poems), written in Italian by first-generation immigrants. Marazzi, a specialist in Italo-American cultural relations, introduces here the lives and works of a number of novelists, poets, activists, and journalists, who wrote for the myriad of newspapers published all around the country. There are authors of serialized novels (the "mysteries" of downtown Manhattan), N.Y.P.D. cops, and nationalists extolling the virtues of the Duce, as well as red anarchists, ladies, and "flappers" from the Italian American middle class, and proletarian rhetoricians. Their personal stories testify to a wider collective novel focused around the myth and the dream of "making America." Through their pages and their critical presentation, the reader is brought to discover the literary dignity of this production, clearly linked to the popular roots of nineteenth-century Italian culture, but at the same time confronted with the traumas and the different realities of a new society. The main themes are voiced - immigration, labor conditions, family ties, the lure and snares of the big city, its multiethnicity.
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Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
Homebound Italian literati spent the early twentieth century writing exquisite formalism (Pirandello) and sprawling sociopolitical novels (Silone). Meanwhile, their counterparts on these shores followed a different literary trajectory, one dictated largely by venue. Newspapers were the medium of choice in the immigrant community, and the Italian-language literary trends were commensurately pulpy, naturalistic, and plot-driven. Marazzi’s anthology bristles with serial gangster fiction, breathless flapper romances, and impassioned tales of triumph over poverty, all of which make for a sharp contrast with his erudite elucidation of their historical context. The result is a glimpse of a largely forgotten literary heritage and of the life of what one epigraph calls “the Italian immigrant in the land of America who, enduring danger and derision, built a nation that never became a homeland.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780838640166
  • Publisher: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Pages: 344

Table of Contents

1 The novel of the Italian in America 22
The kid from Genoa 46
The mysteries of Mulberry Street 52
The underworld of New York 62
The mysteries of New York 65
The blond devil 70
The flapper 78
The two friends 91
Hold up! 103
The diary of an immigrant 113
Toward the ideal 121
On the island of tears : Ellis Island 125
President Scoppetta 131
You must be rough 139
Faraway people 148
2 Stowaway on board : Ezio Taddei 152
The gates of hell 165
I gave up freedom 167
3 The new world of the second generation : Pietro di Donato and John Fante 178
The world of tomorrow 184
A letter from John Fante to Giuseppe Prezzolini 190
4 Poetry of the Italian Americans 191
May Day 208
To Alarico 208
The 20th of September parade in New York 210
Publius Ovid 212
"O labor of America : heartbeat of mankind" 217
The day of war 219
Words without song 221
The walker 222
Samnite cradle song 226
The bricklayers came 231
Proletarian Nostalgias 232
Neapolitan rhapsody 234
The dream 239
Advertising sonnets 241
My summer vacation : a scherzo 242
In Union Square Park 248
5 Prose of testimony : the color line 254
Whites and Blacks : an analysis by Prof. Prezzolini 265
6 At Ellis Island 270
A picture of 1907 276
Racketeers and human contraband 281
7 Italian Americans and Italian writers 292
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