Voices of Italian America: A History of Early Italian American Literature with a Critical Anthology

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Overview

Voices of Italian America presents the first authoritative study and anthology of the largely Italian-language literature written and published in the U.S. from the heydays of the Great Migration (1880-1920) to the almost definitive demise of the cultural world of the first generation soon before and after WWII. The volume resurrects the neglected and even forgotten territory of a nation-wide "Little Italy" where people wrote, talked, read, and consumed the various forms of entertainment mostly in their native Italian language, in a complex interplay with native dialects and surrounding American English.

In the anthological sections we read, among others, excerpts from the ethnically-tinged thrillers by Tuscan-born first-comer Bernardino Ciambelli, as well as the first short-stories by Italian American women, set in the Gilded Age. The fiction of political activists such as Carlo Tresca coexists with the hard-boiled autobiography of Italian American cop Mike Fiaschetti, fighting against the Mafia. Voices presents new material by English-speaking classics such as Pietro di Donato and John Fante, and a selection of poetry by a great bilingual voice, the champion of the masses and IWW poet Arturo Giovannitti, and by a lesser-known, self-taught, satyrical versifier, Riccardo Cordiferro/Ironheart. Controversial documents on the difficult interracial relations between Italian- and African Americans live side by side with the first poignant chronicles from Ellis Island.

The goal of this study is to shed light on the "fabrication" of a new culture of immigrant origins pliable, dynamic, constantly shifting and transforming itself and to do that focusing on stories, genres, rhythms, the"human touch" contributed by literature in its wider sense. Ultimately, through a rich sample of significant texts covering various aspects of the immigrant experience, Voices offers the reader a literary history of Italian American culture. It lets American readers be acquainted with a history very ideologically and artistically diverse, issued from a collective experience full, at the same time, with tragedy and fun. Such a literature is an eye-opening testimony of what happens to a culture when it migrates, and of how, in what form, both linguistically and rhetorically, it expresses itself, in the long and often unnoticed way toward assimilation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
". . . 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."-The New Yorker

"Marazzi offers a critical anthology of the so-called great migration decades (1880-1920) along with observations on journalism (the first Italian newspaper in the United States, L'Eco, was founded in New York in 1849), the relations of Italians and blacks, and the indifference of the Italian intelligentsia to the concerns of the emigrants. . . . Essential."-Choice

"Marazzi's work is certainly a worthy endeavor, and the excellent translation by Ann Goldstein documents for the English reader the existence of a large body of literature of emigration."-Journal of Modern Italian Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823239733
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 10/13/2011
  • Pages: 343
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Martino Marazzi is Assistant Professor of Italian Literature at the Università degli Studi, Milan, Italy.

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Table of Contents

Acknowlegements

Introduction

1. The Novel of the Italian America
2. Stowaway on Board: Ezio Taddei
3. The New World of the Second Generation: Pietro di Donato and John Fante
4. Poetry of the Italian Americans
5. Prose of Testimony: The Color Line
6. At Ellis Island
7. Italian Americans and Italian Writers

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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