Transnational Modernity and the Italian Reinvention of Walt Whitman, 1870-1945
by Caterina Bernardini
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 15 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 15 Jul 2021
University of Iowa Press, University Of Iowa Press
Caterina Bernardini gauges the effects that Walt Whitman’s poetry had in Italy from 1870 to 1945: the reactions it provoked, the aesthetic and political agendas it came to sponsor, and the creative responses it facilitated. Particular attention is given to women writers and noncanonical writers often excluded from previous discussions in this area of study. Bernardini also investigates the contexts and causes of Whitman’s success abroad through the lives, backgrounds, beliefs, and imaginations of the people who encountered his work.
Studying Whitman’s reception from a transnational perspective shows how many countries were simultaneously carving out a new modernity in literature and culture. In this sense, Bernardini not only shows the interconnectedness of various international agents in understanding and contributing to the spread of Whitman’s work, but, more largely, illustrates a constellation of similar pre-modernist and modernist sensibilities. This stands in contrast to the notion of sudden innovation: modernity was not easy to achieve, and it did not imply a complete refusal of tradition. Instead, a continuous and fruitful negotiation between tradition and innovation, not a sudden break with the literary past, is at the very heart of the Italian and transnational reception of Whitman. The book is grounded in archival studies and the examination of primary documents of noteworthy discovery.