Sexuality and Politics: Lady Morgan and the Morality of the Italians
If pressed to say which writer most interested and preoccupied Italian intellectuals of the first half of the nineteenth century and beyond, I would have no hesitation in naming Jean-Louis-Charles Simonde de Sismondi, and in referring in particular to the final volume of his Histoire des Républiques italiennes du Moyen Age. In 1819, a year after the publication of this volume, Alessandro Manzoni responded with his Osservazioni sulla morale cattolica (Observations on Catholic Morality). A few years later, the very real impact of Sismondi’s volume could also be discerned in Giacomo Leopardi’s Discorso sopra lo stato presente del costume degl’italiani (Discourse on the Present State of the Customs of the Italians, 1824) and still more so in a crucially important essay written in 1826 by Ugo Foscolo during his English exile, namely, ‘The Women of Italy’. Yet again, following the attainment of Italian unity, the great literary critic, patriot and Minister of Education Francesco de Sanctis could write that the Histoire ‘should be our code, our gospel, until we rebuild our character’:1 a judgement which, after all, perfectly corresponds with the essentially ‘Sismondian’ approach adopted by De Sanctis when drafting his masterpiece, the Storia della letteratura italiana.
KeywordsNineteenth Century Eighteenth Century Political Liberalism Italian Woman National Ideology
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- 7.I have analysed Luisa’s diary in detail in R. Bizzocchi, ‘Vita sociale, vita pri- vata in un diario femminile tra Sette e Ottocento’, Genesis. Rivista della Società Italiana delle Storiche, 3(1) (2004), 125–67.Google Scholar
- 17.See, for example, J. Fellheimer, ‘The “Subtlety” of the Italians’, English Miscellany, 12(1961), 21–31.Google Scholar