The Great War in Italy: Representation and Interpretation collects interdisciplinary papers from international scholars who investigate the representation and interpretation of the First World War in Italy from the multi-faceted standpoints of literary criticism, history, cinema and cultural studies. The collected texts investigate a broad range of aspects of the Great War in the Italian context, from the ethical implications of testimony and literary rhetoric to the relationship between personal and public writing; from the role of intellectuals in the face of war to the political implications of identity, nationalism and irredentismo; from the function of propaganda and literacy among soldiers to the invention of a “spectacular” war through footage and movies.
The introduction presents key-concepts such as conflict, individualism, brotherhood, responsibility, and propaganda within a framework of philosophical speculation on the idea of war as a constructive, and indeed necessary element of the relationship between individuals and of the process of identity-building, of which war represents an irrational degeneration.
The volume is divided into four sections. The first focuses on language and propaganda, on the influence of the latter on the writings of soldiers, and on the role that some intellectuals such as D'Annunzio, De Roberto, Alvaro and Gadda played in representing the war and in elaborating its meaning. The second section focuses on the issue of literary representation of the war in poetry and narratives, with particular attention to the question of the “self” and to the relationship between dialect, war and poetry. Some articles also compare the British “war poets” to Italian contemporary poets, as well as to the poetics of Gadda and Ungaretti. The third section focuses on identity-related issues such as cosmopolitanism, the ideological value of irredentismo, brotherhood and the process of construction of the national identity through the experience of war. The fourth and last section concerns the legacy of the First World War in the work and function of the archival collections of letters, images and film-footage.
This book offers a multidisciplinary insight into an event which was fundamental in shaping contemporary Italy and in determining the meaning of the legacy of the Italian experience in the First World War. This collection of scholarly contributions is accessible to non-specialist readers, and also represents a link between the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy and the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.