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Myths and counter-myths of America
New World Allegories in the 20th-Century Italian Literature and Film, 2008
Il Portico n. 147
pp. 224, ISBN 978-88-8063-609-0 € 20.00
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Italian fantasies of America’s apocalyptic Otherness continue to function, today, along the same culturally-defensive lines evidenced in more distant eras, from 1492 to 1929 to 2001. What is the theoretical cause of this historically resilient attraction-repulsion dynamic? Yesterday, like today, Italian literary and cinematic representations of America’s “imminent collapse” seem to serve as metaphoric and didactic means for “redeeming” the integrity of Italian identity, perceived as corrupted by the symbolic values mythically attributed to the American altrove. In attempting to “save Italian culture” from American corruption, however, or in defining Italian culture and history as counterpoints to Americ’s lack of culture and history, something has inevitably been lost in the process: select aspects of Italian history have been monumentalized and counter-mythified, while others have been carelessly forgotten or willfully expunged.