Pre/Modern Styles of Life in Washington Irving’s The Italian Banditti Cover Image
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Пред/Модерни форми на живот в „Италиански разбойници“ на Уошингтън Ървинг
Pre/Modern Styles of Life in Washington Irving’s The Italian Banditti

Author(s): Angel Valentinov Angelov
Subject(s): History, Cultural history, Studies of Literature
Published by: Институт за литература - BAN
Keywords: pre/modern ways of life; exoticism; image of Italy 19 century; banditti in literature; Washington Irving

Summary/Abstract: The article is part of a research project in which I compare the view of Italy, presented by foreign painters, writers and travellers, with the view from within – by Italian painters, writers and thinkers. The period is 1815-1870. Do I task myself with answering the question: what kind of image of the Italian society, history and nature does Irving’s The Italian Banditti create? The stories are historically important due to the influence they exerted on their contemporaries both in the U.S. and Britain and in Europe. I compare the image of the Italian banditti with that of the Indians and I conclude that the Indians are not an image of the exotic in Irving’s work.I interpret The Italian Banditti as a testimony for the relevance of the theme of the bandits during the 1820s and as an element of the collective unconscious of foreign travellers that is “Italy”. In my interpretation, the emphasis is on the premodern styles of life of the bandits and most of the locals, as well as on the manifestations of modernity in the behaviour of characters that are not part of the local populace. The approach applied to the stories is cultural-historical – I analyse the stories as social media that produce values, form attitudes and behaviours.Irving contributes to the stabilization of a notion of Italy that contains the past, present and nature. The grandeur of the past Irving attributes only to Antiquity. According to him, medieval despotism and gothic superstitions are the causes of the sad current state of Italy. Irving does not idealize the bandits; the attitude towards them is torn between horror and admiration, between understanding and condemnation. The category of the picturesque is most suited for the description of the unusual scenery that Italy possesses. I attempt to make a distinction between the picturesque and the exotic.I also draw upon the stories from Irving’s collections Bracebridge Hall and The Sketch Book, as well as upon his diaries and letters.

  • Issue Year: LVIII/2015
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 68-95
  • Page Count: 27
  • Language: Bulgarian