Depero, Soldati, Borghese: only a few of the great names that contributed to building the myth of the States with exceptionally topical portraits of the land of modernity.
In the course of the Ventennio (as the twenty-year period of the Italian Fascist regime is known), between the mythical conception of the States mediated by the scholars of overseas literature – like Pavese and Vittorini – and the fiercely critical position of the Regime for motives of an ideological-political nature, there was also a more objective view of the United States, formulated by those writers who chose the USA as the destination of their study travels.
In addition to explaining the role of cinema and emigration in the diffusion of the American Dream, and the complex relations between Fascist culture and American culture, the study – which concentrates, in particular, on the works of Franco Ciarlantini, Luigi Barzini Jr, Fortunato Depero, Mario Soldati, Giuseppe Antonio Borgese and Emilio Cecchi – analyses the major themes that appear most frequently in the literary reflections of the Ventennio on America: from crossing the Atlantic to the alienating encounter with the megalopolises and skyscrapers, from racial segregation to the plague of alcoholism and Prohibition, from the destitute condition of our immigrants to the emancipation of American girls.
From the attempts of our authors to understand the overseas civilisation, it is possible to draw quite a few cues to set off a more conscious reflection on the relationship between our world and the New World, and to explain – in the midst of a new world crisis that now, as then, has its origins in that same country – the roots of our perception of America, a fiercely contested country that at the same time, exercises a force of attraction without equals on a planetary level.
Ambra Meda teaches contemporary Italian literature and the editorial system at the University of Parma, where she received her doctorate degree in Italian Studies and Romance Philology, and where she conducts research in the field of travel and emigration literature between the XIX and XX centuries. Her principal labours include the monograph, G.A. Borgese “Pellegrino appassionato”, Cronache e racconti di viaggio (2006), and the re-editions of Borgese’s texts: Atlante Americano (Vallecchi, 2007), Autunno di Costantinopoli (2009) and Escursione in terre nuove (2011).