Republican Ideals in the Selected Literary Works of Italian-American Joseph Rocchietti, 1835-1845

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With Introduction and Annotations by Carol Bonomo Albright and Elvira Di Fabio.
Citations translated by Elvira Di Fabio

This work offers scholars of immigration history an enriched understanding of Italian immigration prior to the mass migrations of 1880-1920, allowing revision regarding this earlier Italian-American culture. It is also of importance to scholars of 19th century American literature, to scholars of the Italian novel, and to those interested in the influence of Italian writing on other national literatures, given Rocchietti’s interesting imitation of the important novel by Foscolo, Le ultime lettere di Jacopo Ortis, and other writers of the Romantic period. Finally it provides useful information about the early 19th century to scholars of literature, history and cultural studies.


For a long time scholars thought that such works as Luigi Donato Ventura'sPeppino and Bernardino Ciambelli's Misteri novels marked the beginning of Italian American fiction. Now we know, thanks to Carol Bonomo Albright and Elvira Guida Di Fabio's pioneering research, that the earliest known Italian American novel turns out to be Joseph Rocchietti's Lorenzo and Dona/aska, first published in 1835, and here reprinted for the first time. Both learned and revolutionary, an epistolary effort at merging European anti-tyrannical sentiment and American republicanism, with admiration for Rousseau and for Franklin, Lorenzo's letters from Turin, Geneva, or Philadelphia and addressed to his beloved Oonalaska (English, rather than Indian, as her name might suggest) open up a world of grand ideas and small curiosities, be it democracy or the putative etymology of the word "Yankee," And the letters and poetic effllsions by Lorenzo, Oonalaska, Camillo, Gameri, Hugo and Charles also add up to a triangular love story in the manner of The SO"OWS of Young Werther. One has to be grateful to Albright and Di Fabio for having brought back to the modern reader Rocchietti's novel as well as his fascinating essay, "Why a National Literature Cannot Flourish in the United States of America." – (from the Commendatory Preface) Werner Sollors, Harvard University, Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and Professor of African and African American Studies

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
I. Introduction
II. Lorenzo and Oonalaska by J. Rocchietti
III. “Why a National Literature Cannot Flourish in the United States of North America” by J. Rocchietti
IV. Selected Bibliography

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