© 2018

Towards a Unified Italy

Historical, Cultural, and Literary Perspectives on the Southern Question

  • Examines the cultural and socioeconomic divide between Northern and Southern Italy from unification in 1860 to the present day

  • Re-evaluates the narratives that have fueled the North-South divide from cultural, literary, and historical perspectives

  • Offers new insight into post-unification Italy and Italian national identity


Part of the Italian and Italian American Studies book series (IIAS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Salvatore DiMaria
    Pages 1-27
  3. Salvatore DiMaria
    Pages 29-54
  4. Salvatore DiMaria
    Pages 55-84
  5. Salvatore DiMaria
    Pages 85-109
  6. Salvatore DiMaria
    Pages 111-138
  7. Salvatore DiMaria
    Pages 139-171
  8. Salvatore DiMaria
    Pages 173-199
  9. Salvatore DiMaria
    Pages 201-227
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 229-263

About this book


Since unification in 1860, Italy has remained bitterly divided between the rich North and the underdeveloped South. This book examines the historical, literary, and cultural context that has informed and inflamed the debate on the Southern Question for over a century. It brings together analysis of cinema, literature, and newspaper archives to reconsider the myths and stereotypes that both Northerners and Southerners deploy in their narratives. Salvatore DiMaria offers a masterful assessment of the entangled issues that have produced the South’s image as impoverished and backwards, such as organized crime, illiteracy, and mass emigration. Documenting the state’s largely failed efforts to bring the South into its socio-economic fold, DiMaria also points to the future, arguing that the European Union and globalization are transformative forces that may finally produce a unified Italy.


the Southern Question Divided Italy Italian Unification History of the Mafia reconstruction in Italy criminal corruption in Italy Garibaldi Mezzogiorno Kingdom of the Two Sicilies Piedmont Illiteracy in Italy the Bourbon regime the new Kingdom of Italy Emigration in Italy socioeconomic development of southern Italy Italian mafia

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of TennesseeKnoxville, TNUSA

About the authors

Salvatore DiMaria is Professor of Italian at the University of Tennessee, USA.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Towards a Unified Italy
  • Book Subtitle Historical, Cultural, and Literary Perspectives on the Southern Question
  • Authors Salvatore DiMaria
  • Series Title Italian and Italian American Studies
  • Series Abbreviated Title Italian and Italian American Studies
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-90765-9
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-08094-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-90766-6
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XV, 263
  • Number of Illustrations 8 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Italy
    Modern History
    Cultural History
    Social History
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“This book brings deep scholarship and insight to bear upon the Southern Question as no previous work has done before. A groundbreaking study that moves between North and South and between culture, history, cinema, and politics to address complex cultural issues such as criminality, emigration, and illiteracy.” (Michael Lettieri, Professor of Italian Studies, University of Toronto, Canada)

“A much-needed reassessment of the long-held myth that Italy is an irredeemably divided nation. In deft, captivating prose, Salvatore DiMaria offers insights into a number of key issues in post-unified Italy and its political economy.” (Eugenia Paulicelli, Professor of Italian Studies and Comparative Literature, Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, USA)