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Introduction

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The Italian Literature of the Axis War

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

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Abstract

The introduction sets the context of this study. Starting from the renewed attention that the history of the Italian war crimes and occupations of World War II have acquired in the scholarship, Bartolini calls attention to the necessity of studying the field of cultural production, first and foremost literature, without which it remains impossible to assess how conceptualisations about the past have circulated across society. The chapter presents and discusses the corpus of thirty-four texts that form the Italian literature of the Axis War, and it outlines the structure that this study will follow.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Alberto Stramaccioni, Crimini di guerra: storia e memoria del caso italiano (Rome; Bari: Laterza, 2016), pp. 43-44; Gianni Oliva, Si ammazza troppo poco (Milan: Mondadori, 2007), p. 98; Giacomo Scotti, ‘Quando i soldati italiani fucilarono tutti gli abitanti di Podhum’, Patria Indipendente (February 2012), 27-34.

  2. 2.

    Lidia Santerelli, ‘Muted Violence: Italian War Crimes in Occupied Greece’, Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 9.3 (2004), 280-299 (pp. 293-294); Oliva, Si ammazza troppo poco, pp.106-107.

  3. 3.

    Davide Rodogno, Il nuovo ordine mediterraneo: le politiche di occupazione dell’Italia fascista in Europa, 1940-1943 (Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 2003), pp. 397-476.

  4. 4.

    Angelo Del Boca, Italiani brava gente? Un mito duro a morire (Vicenza: Neri Pozza, 2005), p. 241.

  5. 5.

    On the concentration camps built by Fascist Italy see Carlo Spartaco Capogreco, I campi del duce: l’internamento civile nell’Italia fascista 1940-1943 (Turin: Einaudi, 2004).

  6. 6.

    Del Boca, Italiani brava gente?, p. 252.

  7. 7.

    For examples of early studies on the Axis War see Enzo Collotti, Teodoro Sala, eds., Le potenze dell’Asse e la Jugoslavia: saggi e documenti 1941/1943 (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1974); Giorgio Rochat, Giulio Massobrio, Breve storia dell’esercito italiano dal 1861 al 1943 (Turin: Einaudi, 1978); Lucio Ceva, Africa Settentrionale: negli studi e nella letteratura (Rome: Bonacci, 1982). Among Del Boca’s works on Italian colonialism see Gli italiani in Africa orientale, 4 vols (Rome; Bari: Laterza, 1976-1984). On Italian colonialism also see the influential work by Nicola Labanca, Oltremare: storia dell’espansione coloniale italiana (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2002).

  8. 8.

    Rodogno, Il nuovo ordine mediterraneo (2003); Costantino Di Sante, ed., Italiani senza onore: i crimini in Jugoslavia e i processi negati 1941-1951 (Verona: Ombre Corte, 2004); Eric Gobetti, L’occupazione allegra: gli italiani in Jugoslavia 1941-1943 (Rome: Carocci, 2007); Davide Conti, L’occupazione Italiana dei Balcani: crimini di guerra e mito della ‘brava gente’ 1940-1943 (Rome: Odradek, 2008); Michele Battini, Peccati di memoria: la mancata Norimberga italiana (Rome: Laterza, 2003); Filippo Focardi, Criminali di guerra in libertà: un accordo segreto tra Italia e Germania federale 1949-55 (Rome: Carocci, 2008). See also the Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 9.3 (2004), a special issue dedicated to the ‘hidden pages’ of the Italian history of World War II, with contributions by Marta Petrusewicz, Claudio Pavone, Lidia Santarelli, Nicola Labanca, James Burgwyn, Filippo Focardi, Lutz Klinkhammer, and Michele Battini.

  9. 9.

    Luisa Passerini, Torino operaia e fascismo: una storia orale (Rome; Bari: Laterza, 1984); Leonardo Paggi, Anna Bravo, eds., Storia e memoria di un massacro ordinario (Rome: Manifestolibri, 1996); Giovanni Contini, La memoria divisa (Milan: Rizzoli, 1997); Paolo Pezzino, Anatomia di un massacro: controversia sopra una strage tedesca (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1997); Alessandro Portelli, L’ordine è già stato eseguito: Roma, le Fosse Ardeatine, la memoria (Rome: Donzelli, 1999).

  10. 10.

    The work of these scholars informs the understanding of the Italian memory of World War II upheld by this study and will be discussed in Chap. 2.

  11. 11.

    Studies that give some attention to cultural processes include Guri Schwarz, Tu mi devi seppellir: riti funebri e culto nazionale alle origini della Repubblica (Turin: Utet, 2010); Rosario Forlenza, ‘Sacrificial Memory and Political Legitimacy in Postwar Italy: Reliving and Remembering World War II’, History and Memory, 24.2 (2012), 73-116.

  12. 12.

    A complete list of the texts that this book studies is provided in the Appendix.

  13. 13.

    Throughout the twentieth century, surveys about the literature of the Axis War only appeared in volumes concerning the history of Italian literature: see Giuliano Manacorda, ‘Narrativa e memorialistica di guerra’, in Manacorda, ed., Storia della letteratura italiana contemporanea (Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1977), pp. 295-308; Alessandra Briganti, ‘La guerra’, in Gaetano Mariani, Mario Petrucciani, eds., Letteratura italiana contemporanea, 3 vols (Rome: Lucarini, 1982), iii, pp. 53-94; Manuela La Cauza, ‘La letteratura della seconda guerra mondiale e della Resistenza’, in Giorgio Luti, ed., Il Novecento, 2 vols (Padua: Piccin, 1989-1993), ii, pp. 1303-1305. See also Alberto Asor Rosa, ‘L’epopea tragica di un popolo non guerriero’, in Walter Barberis, ed., ‘Guerra e Pace’, 18, Storia d’Italia: Annali (Turin: Einaudi, 2002), pp. 841-918.

  14. 14.

    Among the historical works that have addressed parts of this literary production see Ceva, Africa Settentrionale (1982); Rochat, ‘Memorialistica e storiografia sulla campagna italiana di Russia 1941-1943’, in Enzo Collotti, ed., Gli italiani sul fronte russo (Bari: De Donato, 1982); Mario Isnenghi, Le guerre degli italiani, parole, immagini, ricordi 1848-1945 (Milan: Mondadori, 1989).

  15. 15.

    Studies on war literature by Italian scholars include Alberto Casadei, Romanzi di Finisterre: narrazione della guerra e problemi del realismo (Rome: Carocci, 2000); Umberto Rossi, Il secolo di fuoco: introduzione alla letteratura di guerra del Novecento (Rome: Bulzoni, 2008); Giancarlo Alfano, Ciò che ritorna: gli effetti della guerra nella letteratura italiana del Novecento (Florence: Franco Cesati, 2014).

  16. 16.

    See Mariacristina Ardizzone, ed., Scrittori in divisa: memoria epica e valori umani (Brescia: Grafo 2000); Marco Mondini, Alpini: parole e immagini di un mito guerriero (Rome, Laterza, 2008); Gianluca Cinelli, Ermeneutica e scrittura autobiografica: Primo Levi, Nuto Revelli, Rosetta Loy, Mario Rigoni Stern (Milan: Unicopli, 2008); Gustavo Corni, Raccontare la guerra: la memoria organizzata (Milan: Bruno Mondadori, 2012).

  17. 17.

    Marco Mondini, ‘Narrated Wars: Literary and Iconographic Stereotypes in Historical Accounts of Armed Conflict’, in Mondini, Massimo Rospocher, eds., Narrating War: Early Modern and Contemporary Perspectives (Bologna: Il Mulino; Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2013), pp. 11-28; Mondini, ‘Manly Heroes and Innocent Victims: Italian Representations of Warfare after Defeat 1945-1961’, in Peter Tame, Dominique Jeannerod, Manuel Bragança, eds., Mnemosyne and Mars: Artistic and Cultural Representations of Twentieth-Century Europe at War (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013), pp. 99-119.

  18. 18.

    On the Italian prisoners of war and some of the memoirs they wrote, see Giorgio Rochat, ‘Memorialistica e storiografia sull’internamento’, in Nicola Della Santa, ed., I militari italiani internati dai tedeschi dopo l’8 settembre 1943 (Florence: Giunti, 1986); Agostino Bistarelli, La storia del ritorno: i reduci italiani del secondo dopoguerra (Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 2007).

  19. 19.

    Astrid Erll, Memory in Culture, trans. by Sara Young (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), p. 150.

  20. 20.

    Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press, 2016), p. 12.

  21. 21.

    Philippe Lejeune, Le Pacte autobiographique (1975) (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1996), pp. 13-35.

  22. 22.

    Philippe Gasparini, Autofiction: une aventure du langage (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2008), p. 244.

  23. 23.

    On the narrative elements that contribute to supporting the reception of a work of literature either as fictional or non-fictional see Gérard Genette, Fiction and Diction, trans. by Catherine Porter (Ithaca; London: Cornell University Press, 1993), pp. 65-68.

  24. 24.

    Gasparini, Autofiction, p. 300; see also Lejeune, Le Pacte autobiographique, p. 25.

  25. 25.

    Gasparini, however, uses this term only in relation to postmodern narratives: see Gasparini, Autofiction, pp. 311-313.

  26. 26.

    Ugo Pirro, Mille tradimenti: romanzo (Milan: Bompiani, 1959); Gian Carlo Fusco, La lunga marcia (Milan: Longanesi, 1961); Manlio Cancogni, Il ritorno (Milan: Rizzoli, 1971); Giulio Bedeschi, Il peso dello zaino (Milan: Garzanti, 1966); Bedeschi, La rivolta di Abele (Milan: Rizzoli, 1972).

  27. 27.

    See Helmut Peitsch, ‘Introduction’, in Peitsch, Charles Burdett, Claire Gorrara, eds., European Memories of the Second World War: New Perspectives on Postwar Literature (New York; Oxford: Berghahn, 1999), p. xxviii. On the specific role of 1968 in the memory culture of France and West Germany, see Richard Golsan, ‘The Legacy of World War II in France: Mapping the Discourse of Memory’, in Richard Ned Lebow, Wulf Kansteiner, Claudio Fogu, eds., The Politics of Memory in Postwar Europe (Durham, NC; London: Duke University Press, 2006), p. 74; Kansteiner, ‘Losing the War, Winning the Memory Battle: The Legacy of Nazism, World War II, and the Holocaust in the Federal Republic of Germany’, in Ibid., p. 136.

  28. 28.

    On the different role that 1968 played in Italian culture for what concerns the memory of World War II see Fogu, ‘Italiani brava gente: The Legacy of Fascist Historical Culture on Italian Politics of Memory’, in Ibid., p. 155; Corni, Raccontare la guerra, p. 3. On the changes that, nevertheless, 1968 caused to the Italian memory, in particular for what concerns the memory of the Italian Resistance, see Filippo Focardi, La guerra della memoria: la Resistenza nel dibattito politico italiano dal 1945 a oggi (Rome: Laterza, 2005), pp. 47-50.

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Bartolini, G. (2021). Introduction. In: The Italian Literature of the Axis War. Italian and Italian American Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-63181-9_1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-63181-9_1

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