Dal Baccanale all'inventario: La letteratura americana in Italia nei repertori di Americana e Novellieri inglesi e americani
- US literature,
- Novellieri inglesi e americani
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One of the first and most significant stages in the translation and circulation of American literature in Italy coincides with the controversial publication of Elio Vittorini’s anthology, Americana, published in 1942 by Bompiani. Partially because of its problematic editorial history, vehemently opposed by the fascist regime (Pavese 2018), partially because it was the first attempt to systematically canonize American literature, Americana has acquired mythical status, thus becoming a model in the Italian literary field. Its influence has been fundamental in subsequent attempts of mapping and consecrating American literature in Italy ever since, as Luca Briasco’s recent Americana (2016) clearly demonstrates. Although Americana’s role as forerunner experience remains unquestioned, its capability of establishing an American literary field in Italy was paralleled and possibly surpassed by less famous though more extensive De Carlo’s anthology Novellieri inglesi e americani (1944), published in Rome during the liberation process.
The purpose of this essay is to compare Americana and Novellieri inglesi e americani as cultural products in view of their contribution to the formation of an American literary field in Italy grounded on literary translation. Rather than deconstructing the myth of the former, the essay wishes to analyze the repertoire of authors and texts defined in the latter and acknowledge its relevance in expanding the field that Americana undoubtedly opened before the conclusion of World War Two. By observing concrete and conceptual differences between both anthologies I intend to show the literary significance of Novellieri inglesi and americani against the background of its cultural debt towards Vittorini’s work, and parallelly, to identify some of the limits of Americana as an agent in the Italian literary field. Particular attention will be dedicated to the selection and organization of the “literary capital” as it is presented in De Carlo’s anthology, as well as to the differences between its theoretical implications as opposed to the critical apparatus elaborated in Americana by Vittorini.