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In Italy, the search for a national collection of tales was a similarly political task, but possibly more complex. After the country's unification in or if one considers the conquering of Rome the Nation's true birth , scholars of popular traditions gained a prominent role in academia.
Finally unified geographically, Italy began to search for a certain "Italian spirit" that many believed to be latent in the popular arts of smaller communities. Given that Italy was still a fractured state--politically and linguistically--the collected material was naturally linked to regionalist sentiments, and so tended to be presented in the dialect of the area from which it came.
Thus, the "Italian" popolo was-practically and literarily--decidedly non-national. Beginning in , Vittorio Imbriani, Alessandro D'Ancona, Giuseppe Pitre, and other scholars published various collections of songs and stories from Tuscany, Piedmont, Sicily, and other regions, transcribed in dialect with historical and conservational intent. In , however, among these regionalist works, Domenico Comparetti composed Novelline Popolari Italiane, which comprised folktales from many Italian regions, translated from the dialects into the "lingua comune" or "common language.
Elective Affinities: Gianni Celati Reading Antonio Delfini
Published in an academic environment full of conservational and therefore regionalist sentiments, at least in regards to popular traditions, Comparetti's interegionalist effort was denounced by folklorists of the time. Comparetti's anthology was not recognized as a spirited surge toward a national folktale tradition until the second World War, in an environment newly filled with nationalistic sentiments. Italo Calvino first noted Comparetti's intent, in fact, in those years in which the author dedicated himself to the translation and rewriting of material collected by nineteenth-century folklorists with the goal of creating a national collection of folktales.
In the introduction to his Fiabe Italiane, Calvino claims that while early collectors created "una montagna di narrazioni tratte dalla bocca del popolo nei vari dialetti Un 'Grimm italiano' non venne alla luce, sebbene gia nel il Comparetti avesse tentato una raccolta generale di piu regioni" IX. Already in this first though brief analysis of Comparetti's nationalistic intentions, Calvino recognized the inability of the Novelline to reach the Grimms' standard, and considered the work an unrealized dream, a collection "ridotta a un freddo compendio" XXII.
The "Italian Grimm" should have been " Though held in high consideration as a partial ideological model, according to Calvino the nineteenth-century work was too rigid: through the translation into the "lingua comune," Comparetti dampened the linguistic fervor of the dialects, and neglected to reintegrate any poetic additions of his own.
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