For a Jewish Italian Literary History: from Italo Svevo to Igiaba Scego

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This article argues that recognizing Jewishness as a crucial part of modern Italian literary history offers one path for discussing the current and historical diversity of Italian culture. The first section discusses key twentieth-century Italian authors — Giorgio Bassani, Natalia Ginzburg, Primo Levi, Elsa Morante, and Italo Svevo — not to assess how Jewish they are, but to illuminate the Jewishness of modern Italian literature, which prompts a reconsideration of the construction of Italian identity. The second section, “Jewish, Black, and Italian: The Archival Fictions of Helena Janeczeck, Claudio Magris, and Igiaba Scego,” scrutinizes how these three authors interrogate Italy’s role in the persecution of Jews, racial violence, and colonialism, drawing on historical documents that show the gaps in dominant discourses and asking readers to reflect on how historical narratives have been constructed. Being more cognizant of Jewish Italians, their backgrounds, and their representations in literature contributes to the growing analyses of Italy’s diversity, adding to examinations of Italian literature that focus on belonging, borders, migration, and colonialism.






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Ziolkowski, SE (2022). For a Jewish Italian Literary History: from Italo Svevo to Igiaba Scego. Italian Culture. pp. 1–23. 10.1080/01614622.2022.2088955 Retrieved from

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