Advertisement

Debate in the Dark: Love in Italian-American Fiction

  • Robert Viscusi

Abstract

Italians, according to stereotype, make great lovers. Like most stereotypes, this one is true but not true enough. It leaves out something important in the interest of rendering its object relatively harmless. Thus, if one says the poor are shiftless, one is unlikely to want to add why it is that they cannot find decent jobs. Women are hysterical if you refuse to listen to anything they say except with their bodies. And so on. Italians are great lovers to people who would rather not think of them as economic or political agents. This is a peculiar and, in Italian history, a profound reality. The lay theology of heterosexual love, though its early development took place elsewhere, reached a spectacular pitch of elaboration in thirteenth and fourteenth-century Italy precisely as a way of endowing with effective agency forms of feeling that had no other avenue of expression. That is, the great new language of love one finds in Dante and Petrarca and Boccaccio is most clearly seen as a way of legitimising the dignity of the uxorious burgher against the systematic linguistic and ritual exclusion long practised by a powerfully homosexual priestly hierarchy. The medieval church was a club of men who preached salvation and lent money.1

Keywords

American Life Italian Immigrant Great Lover American Declaration Italian History 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 2.
    See, for example, G. Mazzacurati, Forma e ideologia: Dante, Boccaccio, Straparola, Manzoni Nievo, Verga, Svevo (Naples: Liguori, 1974).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See Rudolph J. Vecolp.,‘Prelates and Peasants: Italian Immigrants and the Catholic Church’. Journal of Social History, 2 (1969) 217–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 9.
    Lou D’Angelo, A Circle of Friends (Garden City: Doubleday, 1977).Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    Mario Puzo, The Godfather (New York: Putnam’s, 1969), p. 17.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    Joseph Arleo, Home Late (New York: Warner Paperback Library, 1974).Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    Mario Puzo, The Sicilian (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984).Google Scholar
  7. 14.
    Pietro di Donato, Christ in Concrete, loq. cit.; This Woman (New York: Ballantine Books, 1958), Three Circles of Light (New York: Julian Messner, 1960).Google Scholar
  8. 17.
    Gilbert Sorrentino, Aberration of Starlight (New York: Random House, 1980).Google Scholar
  9. 18.
    Carol Maso, Ghost Dance (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  10. 20.
    John Fante, Ask the Dust (New York: Stackpole Sons, 1939); for this interpretation, seeGoogle Scholar
  11. R. Viscusi ‘The Text in the Dust: Writing Italy across America’, Studi emigrazione, 65 (1982) 123–30.Google Scholar
  12. 21.
    Helen Barolini, Umbertina (New York: Seaview Books, 1979).Google Scholar
  13. 22.
    Mario Puzo, The Fortunate Pilgrim (1964: reprinted London: Heinemann, 1971).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ann Massa 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Viscusi

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations