Introduction: The Southern Question
In this introductory chapter, DiMaria provides an overview of the historical, cultural, and literary context that for over a century has informed and inflamed the debate on the Question of the South or Questione del Mezzogiorno. He traces the controversy from the nineteenth century, when anthropologists labeled Southerners an inferior race, to the rise of the Northern League (1990s), which rekindled the racist rhetoric of old. He offers an unbiased analysis of the environment that led to the 1860 annexation of the South. The evidence leads him to conclude that most Southerners, contrary to recent claims, were willing to join the new Kingdom of Italy. Resistance to the unification came mostly from Bourbon loyalists who hoped to restore the toppled regime.