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2.14 - The Gothic in Nineteenth-Century Italy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2020

Catherine Spooner
Affiliation:
Lancaster University
Dale Townshend
Affiliation:
Manchester Metropolitan University
Angela Wright
Affiliation:
University of Sheffield
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Summary

Was there an indigenous Gothic in nineteenth-century Italy, a local reworking of English (and perhaps Continental) forms and models’? This chapter addresses this much-debated issue by making a case for the clear presence of Gothic motifs and structures in several Italian novels, from Alessandro Manzoni’s I promessi sposi (1827) (particularly in its earliest version, Fermo e Lucia, c. 1821–3) to Carlo Lorenzini’s Le avventure di Pinocchio (1883). The chapter discusses the contribution of the so-called ‘Scapigliati’ authors to the Italian Gothic and offers a survey of later writers from the verista and naturalista literary schools. Later in the century, Italian realist writers seem to veer into the realm of the supernatural. The chapter thus closes with looking at the anti-rationalist discourses that flourished at the close of the century, and at such hermeneutical modalities as spiritualism, mesmerism and occultism that became increasingly fashionable in the popular press. Vampire literature and the Italian legacy of German and English Gothic are also addressed, with references to, among others, Francesco Domenico Guerrazzi and the national novelists of the first half of the century.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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