Nation and Narration
British Modernism in Italy in the First Half of the 20th Century, 2004
L’Interprete n. 80
pp. 228, ISBN 88-8063-443-7 € 18.00
One of the main tasks of the unified Italian state was to shape an unified nation. To become a nation, especially during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, was a necessary step in the process of creating a modern society, and Italy also entered the modern world by becoming a national state. Literature played an important role. Lacking political unity, Italian nationality had to be based on a common literary tradition. Many intellectuals and writers became involved in this complex and multifaceted process. The book explores, in particular, the way in which nation was interpreted and inhabited by them, and how their interest in foreign literatures affected their vision.
The relationship with British culture was important because the concept of nation that, until recently, has been predominant in Europe, and particularly in Italy, was based on and influenced by British history and vision. Therefore, the links established with Britain during and after the creation of a unified national state in the Risorgimento affected also the way in which the Italian nation was conceived and shaped.
The most problematic period for the post-Unification process of nation-building was the period between 1890 and 1960, which is the period covered in the book. The main focus is on three writers, F.T. Marinetti, Carlo Linati and Elio Vittorini, which are, in different ways, representative of the issues faced in this process. The three of them had to negotiate an Italian identity during their literary careers.