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From Meridionalismo to Orientalism: Three Representations of Sicily in the Contemporary Narrative of the Risorgimento

  • Author(s): Parga-Linares, Santiago;
  • et al.

The island of Sicily has served as one of the most important and common settings for the narrative of the Risorgimento. Italian literature dedicated to narrating the events of the country’s period of unification seems to be somewhat obsessed with this island, which has been created and recreated in novels, novelle and short stories written by both Sicilian and northern writers.  The purpose of this paper is to explore how the land, culture and population of Sicily are depicted in three key narrative texts of the twentieth century to see how they may participate of the cultural, social, political and literary phenomenon known as Meridionalismo, which, we intend to prove, may be compared in attitude and scope to Orientalism (as described by Edward Said). We will limit ourselves to these three twentieth century narrations written: Lampedusa’s Il Gattopardo, Sciascia’s Il quarantotto and De Cataldo’s I traditori all deal with the events of 1860 and the process of the Risorgimento as it occurred in Sicily and they were all written by men born in the South but that were writing from the North. We will attempt to see whether the social and cultural stereotypical representations of Sicily that characterized much of Meridionalist literature are present in these texts and, if so, how they may or may not connect the literature written about the Meridione by southern writers with the literature written about the Orient.

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