i-ItalyNY - 2014-06 - page 49

byAnthonyJulianTamburri
●●
With his anthology of Italian
writing produced in the United
States from 1885 to 1942 circa,
Italoamericana
(Mondadori,
2005), Francesco Durante
introduced Italy to a literary
tradition — a canon — that was
totally unknown to the Italian
literary establishment.
Awake-upcallforItalians
Like Gian Antonio Stella’s
L’orda,
quando gli albanesi eravamo
noi
(Rizzoli 2002), Durante’s
anthology put Italy on notice.
At a time when Italy had
already transformed itself into a
country of arrival, dealing with
the coincidental issues of social
misunderstanding and bigotry
that accompany immigration,
Italoamericana
reminds Italians
that their own citizens had
left their country well over a
century earlier and, in their
new locales, faced innumerable
trials and tribulations brought
on by the citizenry of their host
countries. It is,
de facto
, a wake-
up call for Italy; how it now
behaves — or does not — vis-
à-vis its current immigration
phenomena.
At a time when Italy has
transformed itself into a
country of arrival, dealing
with the issues of social
misunderstanding and
bigotry that accompany
immigration, this anthology
reminds Italians of their
own citizens who left the
country well over a century
ago facing innumerable
trials and tribulations in
their new locales.
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June-July 2014
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i-
Italyny
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49
community at that time:
analogous, indeed, to those that
now plague the new immigrants
in Italy. Gino Speranza’s essay
(“How It Feels to Represent
a Problem ”) discussed “how
few Americans ever consider
how very unpleasant, to say
the least, it must be to the
foreigners living in their midst
to be constantly looked upon
either as a national problem or
a national peril” (52). Alberto
Pecorini (“The Children of
Immigrants”) examined the
conflict between immigrant
parents and their children,
where education and personal
growth were strange concepts
to the former. Alfredo Tarchiani
(“Neither Foreigners nor
Americans”), similarly, spoke
to identity: “The Italians of
America are Italian-Americans
and so shall they remain.
They cannot dissolve their
bonds of affection for their
homeland regardless of how
many naturalization cards they
acquire or how many oaths
they take. They can, however,
be equally obedient, devoted,
and productive citizens of the
United States…” (72).
Indissolublebondsof
affection
Italian writing in the United
States continues. One need
only think of Peter Carravetta,
Alfredo de Palchi, Rita Dinale,
Luigi Fontanella, Irene
Marchegiani, Elda Tasso, Joseph
Tusiani, Paolo Valesio et alii.
These are some of the writers
today who have lived here for
numerous decades and have
negotiated, each in his or her
own way, themes analogous
to our earlier authors; writers
today, as Tarchiani said of his
time, who “cannot dissolve
their bonds of affection for their
homeland regardless of how
many naturalization cards they
acquire or how many oaths they
take.”
Ideas
❱❱
Bookshelf
italytoreadANDtolistento
●●
THEAMERICANSOCIETYSEENTHROUGHTHEEYESOFITALIAN-SPEAKINGIMMIGRANTS
Italoamericana:
WritingforaCause
Italoamericana: TheLiterature
of theGreatMigration, 1880-1943
EditedbyFrancescoDurante.
GeneralEditoroftheAmericanEdition:RobertViscusi
TranslationsEditor:AnthonyJulianTamburri
BibliographicEditor:JamesJ.Periconi
FordhamUniversity Press
pages
1032
$
40.00 (paperback)
FrancescoDuranteand
RobertViscusireadpassages
from
Italoamericana
during
aspecialcelebrationatNanni
RestaurantinManhattanon
May7,2014.Right:Francesco
DurantewithJamesPericoni.
Atrueliterarytradition
Yet,
Italoamericana
is more.
It is proof positive that the
immigrants who came to the
United States was not the
illiterate bunch that many
would want us to believe. From
fiction to poetry and to theater,
we find a literary tradition
that was vastly productive
and, for the most part,
aesthetically successful. The
creative writers were serious
in intent — at times comical
and sarcastic, other times sober
and prescriptive — in dealing
with their local surroundings
as theme. What we thus find is
the birth of a literary canon in
Italian outside Italy. As far back
as 1885, people here have been
producing literature in Italian,
that was also published locally,
as there were numerous local
Italian-language publishers.
The essayists and journalists,
in turn, spoke to a variety of
issues that plagued the Italian
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