1 STUDI E TESTI DI PALAZZO SERRA COLLANA DEL DIPARTIMENTO DI LINGUE E CULTURE MODERNE UNIVERSITÀ DEGLI STUDI DI GENOVA 5
2 Direttore Massimo BACIGALUPO Comitato scientifico Pier Luigi CROVETTO Roberto DE POL Roberto FRANCAVILLA Claudia HÄNDL Sergio POLI Michele PRANDI Laura QUERCIOLI MINCER Laura SALMON Giuseppe SERTOLI
3 STUDI E TESTI DI PALAZZO SERRA COLLANA DEL DIPARTIMENTO DI LINGUE E CULTURE MODERNE UNIVERSITÀ DEGLI STUDI DI GENOVA Questa collana di studi e testi affianca i Quaderni di Palazzo Serra editi dal Dipartimento fin dal La collana ospita monografie, raccolte di saggi, atti di convegni su temi specifici e edizioni di testi. * Studi e Testi di Palazzo Serra is a series of critical and textual studies, conference proceedings, etc., concerning literature, language and culture. It is associated with Quaderni di Palazzo Serra, the journal of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures (University of Genoa, Italy), of which twenty-four issues appeared from Palazzo Serra (formerly Palazzo Marc Aurelio Rebuffo, 1509) was renovated in 1782 for Marchese Stefano Serra by the architect Gio. Battista Pellegrini, with frescos by Carlo G. Ratti. It includes the north tower of one of Genoa s medieval gates, Porta dei Vacca. Opening on Piazza di Santa Sabina, it is the home of the Department and Library of Modern Languages and Cultures.
4 The publication of this volume has been overseen by Giovanni Pavanelli.
5 Jane Dunnett The mito americano and Italian Literary Culture under Fascism Foreword by Massimo Bacigalupo
6 Copyright MMXV Aracne editrice int.le S.r.l. via Quarto Negroni, Ariccia (RM) (06) ISBN I diritti di traduzione, di memorizzazione elettronica, di riproduzione e di adattamento anche parziale, con qualsiasi mezzo, sono riservati per tutti i Paesi. Non sono assolutamente consentite le fotocopie senza il permesso scritto dell Editore. I edizione: gennaio 2015
7 Contents 11 Foreword by Massimo Bacigalupo 17 Jane Dunnett The mito americano and Italian Literary Culture under Fascism 27 Introduction 35 Chapter I The mito americano Revisited. Shifting Perspectives on an Italian Topos 1.1. Difficulties of Definition, Americanismo, Americanizzazione, Americanata, America as Myth, Americana: A Cult Book?, Literary Criticism and the mito americano, Chapter II America, or Eldorado. The View from Italy ( ) 2.1. Emigration as Salvation, The American Economic Model: Success Abroad, Size and Scale: The Discourse on the USA, The New Deal: America al bivio, Reporting on the Mechanical Civilisation : Beniamino De Ritis, New York Venezia gigantesca (Luigi Barzini Jnr), Franco Ciarlantini s 7
8 8 The mito americano Paese delle stelle, Trionfi e disfatte di Nuova York (Raffaele Calzini), In Defence of an Imperfect Democracy (G. A. Borgese), America primo amore (Mario Soldati), America amara (Emilio Cecchi), Chapter III Glamour Elsewhere 3.1. La nuova leggenda : Love, Money and Happy Endings, The Hegemony of American Cinema, True Tales of Hollywood Heroes, Stars and Smiles: Snapshots of Celebrity, Gazing on Glamour: Vicarious Diversions at the Picture Palace, Enter the New Woman: American Screen Goddesses, Fashion and Femininity, Seduced by Hollywood, Chapter IV In Search of a Bestseller. Italian Publishers and the American Novel ( ) 4.1. Importing Literature, From State Intervention to State Censorship, Publishers and Readers, The crisi del libro, Jack London s Fortune under Fascism, Marketing Modernity: The Vogue for New American Novels, I Romanzi della Palma : Affordable Fiction for all the Family, Successoni letterarî : Antonio Adverse and Via col vento, Topolino: An Icon for Troubled Times, Negotiating (with) the Ministry of Popular Culture: The Case of Americana, Chapter V Mediating the Myth. The Discovery of American Literature by Italian Critics 5.1. Literary Pioneers, Carlo Linati and America s Fuorusciti, Mario Praz: In Praise of the
9 Contents 9 American Epic, Amerigo Ruggiero: Investigating the United States, Emilio Cecchi: Scenes from a Cruel New World, Mario Soldati s Flirtation with America, Cesare Pavese: (Re)inventing the mito americano, Elio Vittorini: Tending Towards the Universal, Conclusion 493 Acknowledgements 497 Abbreviations 499 Encyclopaedias and Dictionaries Consulted 501 Bibliography 543 Index
10 Figure 1. Jean Harlow with the Italian journalist Marco Ramperti.
11 Foreword by Massimo Bacigalupo Jane Dunnett has written a notable study of a rich and controversial subject the perception of America, or the United States, during the Fascist period between the wars. It is often claimed that America, as a potential competitor and enemy, was consistently presented in Fascist Italy as a negative example and that it was even considered subversive to read American books. This is based on the false assumption that Fascism was monolithic; but it harboured a great variety of positions, including that of the so called left wing Fascists. More importantly, Roosevelt s America was frequently presented in the Fascist press as an imitation of Mussolini s Italy or parallel to it, both countries allegedly ruled by a strong figure, populist in inspiration. Thus socially and politically America was actually looked upon with sympathy by many Fascist officials, including Mussolini, setting aside the rhetoric of Italian primacy and cultural superiority. The Centro Studi Americani in Rome, a government funded academic institution, was created in those years, and has remained the principal American Studies center of the country. Dunnett devotes her study to the mito americano, which immediately calls to mind the image of America as a land of opportunity and immense wealth, the destination of millions of emigrants, the home of what used to be called 11
12 12 Foreword the American uncle (zio d America) who returns to his native village to distribute money, build his retirement villa, and fund a statue of the man who showed him the way to success and wealth Christopher Columbus. This myth persisted between the wars, though emigration was no longer an option for the masses, and America became increasingly a cultural model of thrift, purposefulness and the good life that could be gained through application. Fascist Italy presented itself as young, vital, innovative, intolerant of the shackles of the past: a New Deal. America could function within this context as model and mirror. (After all, Mussolini came to power ten years before FDR.) Dunnett looks carefully at writings by popular journalists and intellectuals who report from the United States, often but not always repeating clichés (America as both pagan and puritanical). Many of the sources which Dunnett examines are little known or forgotten, even in Italy, and they are unfailingly interesting (she quotes generously and advisedly). Dunnett gives credit to some of these writers, especially Borgese, for their insight, placing them in the larger context, and observing that they have been ignored because not fitting within the accepted myth that America was more or less taboo at the time. In fact, there was a rich flowering of reports, some of notable literary interest, as is the case with two books with brilliantly suggestive titles, Mario Soldati s America primo amore and Emilio Cecchi s America amara. Cecchi and Soldati were of course major figures whose writing and influence would continue after the war. Before turning in her last chapter to highbrow literature (of which Soldati and Cecchi are examples), Dunnett looks at popular culture during the period. She easily reminds us that Hollywood cinema dominated the mar-
13 Foreword 13 ket until the end of the 1930s, despite the grumblings of some chauvinist commentators, and that through gossip columns, glamour magazines and the general press the Hollywood star system had practically conquered Mussolini s bourgeois legions (and perhaps even the working classes). Again, the chapter on Hollywood is rich in detail and information, but Dunnett tells her story with the precision and liveliness which makes her study eminently readable and a revelation for the non specialist in Italian culture, while offering the specialist many new findings and inroads. One example of Italy s adoring relationship to Hollywood which I have come upon is an extravagant book of portraits of women stars, L alfabeto delle stelle by one Marco Ramperti, published in 1936 and reprinted in 1981 with an afterword by Leonardo Sciascia; he takes for granted Ramperti s obsessiveness and mentions some of the film magazines cited by Dunnett which published letters asking for the stars birthdays and how to pronounce their names (Gheri Cupaa, Gion Croford, Clara Bau, Gianet Gheinor). He doesn t say much about Ramperti (whose name curiously occurs also in Ezra Pound s canto 95) but the book includes a picture of him, impeccably dressed, with Jean Harlow who looks at him with her irresistible smile. (Possibly a montage?) These various American myths, Dunnett shows, were quickly exploited by the Italian publishing industry, which in the period became industrialized on American models (just as FIAT copied Ford) and began searching for bestsellers. Hence the vogue of Jack London and of popular novels like Anthony Adverse (by Hervey Allen) and Gone with the Wind, which was published in The latter provoked politically motivated comments on violence,
14 14 Foreword slavery, and defeat in the American South, but was enormously successful (the movie was only released after the war). Dunnett enriches her discussion of publishing by looking at popular series for general readership and by quoting publishers readers comments, very revealing of the cultural climate. Much of her study is based on original archival research and an impressive (often little known) bibliography. Besides bestsellers, she considers genres like comic books and detective fiction ( gialli ), another field where American products were dominant. In the case of Disney comics, the stories for the Italian market were often produced and drawn in Italy, and the serious Topolino (Micky Mouse) and the irreverent Paperino (Donald Duck) were easily assimilated to the official ideals of Fascist youth. While visiting Italy, Disney asked for an audience with his admirer Mussolini; Chaplin apparently did not. This ample consideration of the publishing industry sets the scene for Dunnett s discussion of the reception of American literature a myth within the myth, since it is commonly believed that Elio Vittorini and Cesare Pavese more or less single handedly brought the new (and old) American writers, from Poe to Stein and Hemingway, to the elite Italian public, and that the whole process of importation and translation was distinctly anti Fascist in inspiration. This of course is not true. The Sicilian Vittorini, an extraordinarily lively intellectual and left wing Fascist, translated everything that came his way to make ends meet, without knowing much English, and relying on unacknowledged drudges for rough drafts. A brilliant writer, he thought nothing of heavily revising the originals, also for commercial reasons. His translation or adaptation of Light in August, for example, is quite at variance with Faulkner s dense original, perhaps more Hemingwayesque.
15 Foreword 15 Thus the main point is that Italian publishers brought out Dos Passos, Sinclair Lewis, Erskine Caldwell, James Cain and their contemporaries, alongside Lawrence and Woolf, just as they were marketed in English by their original publishers and by Albatross for the European market. The cultivated readership was more or less the same in Italy and abroad, and the titles were also the same. This does not detract from Vittorini s contagious passion for U.S. writers, for their realism, social commitment and innovative style which culminated in the publication of the indeed mythical 1000 page anthology Americana (Washington Irving to John Fante) in which Pavese, Montale and other worthies collaborated. The story of Americana and how it was censored has often been told. Dunnett presents new material such as Vittorini s correspondence with the then minister of culture Alessandro Pavolini. Of course it is striking that this massive anthology should have appeared in 1942, when Italy was at war with the U.S. Understandably, Vittorini s over enthusiastic rhapsodies (much indebted to D. H. Lawrence, Dunnett reminds us) were replaced by a censorious introduction from Emilio Cecchi nevertheless the book did appear and was much read, certainly not chiefly by readers of strong anti Fascist persuasion. After all, it was authorized by the regime. Cesare Pavese s magnificent (though occasionally erring) translations of Moby Dick, Benito Cereno, and Stein s Three Lives (published 1940, in defiance of Italy s recent racial laws perhaps the censor looked the other way) are another matter, concerning the evolution of a major novelist and intellectual, and have little bearing on culture wars then current. Dunnett brilliantly goes over and adds to all these stories
16 16 Foreword of men living and coming to compromises during those eventful and exciting years. She devotes much attention, as mentioned above, to Soldati s America primo amore and Cecchi s America amara, providing the English reader with a reliable and documented critical account of these two exemplary works. She is quick to spot contradictions in both writers, and ends up being more sympathetic than one would expect to the conservative and sometimes disingenuous Cecchi. Interested as he was in cinema as well as in literature, he was unconsciously fascinated by the so very bitter America against which he protested (too much). Dunnett has done exemplary work, essentially showing us that easy categories, claims and myths, have to be looked into carefully by scholars if a complex social and cultural reality is to be grasped. The post war period stressed, for understandable reasons, discontinuity with the Fascist era: now finally Italians were free to become Americans (as in Alberto Sordi s great comedy Un americano a Roma), after decades of repression of their love affair with Uncle Sam. The reality, Jane Dunnett shows, was very different; actually the penetration of American culture in Italy in the 1950s and later was only a continuation of what had been going on earlier. Fascism did not profoundly change Italian culture or its inclinations, in fact it was just as taken with the American myth as its opponents, and probably more so, since the anti Fascists leaned towards Moscow as well as New York. Dunnett sets the record straight and tells a fascinating story. Had she not been prevented by early death she would probably have revised this study to make her argument and the originality of her research appear even more forcibly. But in its present form this book is readable, enlightening, admirably documented, and shrewd in judgment.
17 Jane Dunnett Senior Lecturer in Italian Department of Languages, Translation and Communication Swansea University Jane Deborah Dunnett was born in London on 8 February Her primary and secondary education was at the Lycée Français in London. She graduated in French and Italian at Somerville College, Oxford in She then worked as an editorial assistant in the Social Sciences Department of Pergamon Press before studying Translation at the Polytechnic of Central London (now University of Westminster), where she was awarded a Diploma in Technical and Specialised Translation in For a number of years she then worked as a translator in various capacities, including on Reuters Italian Desk and in the European Parliament. Following this she spent several years in Italy working as a language tutor in the Universities of Perugia and Pisa before moving to Canada to complete an MPhil in Translation Studies at Ottawa University in 1995 where she was also employed as a sessional lecturer. Returning to the UK, Jane was awarded a Thomas Holloway Studentship ( ) to carry out doctoral research in the Italian Department at Royal Holloway, University of London where she was awarded a PhD for her thesis on: The mito americano and Italian Literary Culture 17
18 18 Jane Dunnett under Fascism. While at Royal Holloway Jane also taught Italian language courses and tutored on twentieth century literary figures such as Dario Fo, Ignazio Silone and Elio Vittorini. She then completed a one year tenure as Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome ( ) where she launched a project on the censorship of foreign books under Fascism, before being appointed to a lectureship in Italian at Swansea University in For the next eight years Jane taught Italian language at all levels, from Beginners to MA, as well as special topics in twentieth century Italian literature and culture. She also contributed to BA and MA interdisciplinary modules taught within the College of Arts and Humanities and at the time of her death had begun supervising a PhD project on adaptation. She was an Associate Editor of the Swansea based journal Romance Studies and one of the co founders of the Modern European Ideologies, Conflict and Memory Research Group (MEICAM). She was lead organiser of a Romance Studies sponsored conference on Adaptation: Intertextual Transformations Across Different Media, planned for the summer of During her relatively brief but intense academic career, Jane s scholarship was recognised in a number of ways, both in the UK and abroad. In 2009 she was awarded a Research Fellowship by the Arts and Humanities Research Council for a project on Italian crime fiction. She was also appointed a Research Fellow in Translation Studies at the University of South Africa (Pretoria) where she was invited to teach in January She was twice invited to examine doctorates by the University of Leon, Spain. She was also a busy reviewer for international academic journals in her field.
19 Jane Dunnett Jane carried out her research primarily on twentieth century Italian literature and culture. Her main areas of specialisation included transculturation (i.e. the way in which cultures influence one another); adaptation; censorship of foreign books under Fascism; the role of writer translators; popular literature, the vogue for detective novels and the Italian publishing industry in the interwar period; the representations of Caesar in Fascist theatre; the theatre of Dario Fo and Franca Rame and particularly the transposition of Dario Fo s plays to Quebec, Britain, and the USA. She had recently returned from Rome where she had been doing research on the translations into Italian of Shakespeare s Julius Caesar. She was also working on the early translations of Hemingway s novels into Italian. Jane died suddenly at her home in Swansea on 2 October 2013.
20 20 Jane Dunnett