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The Final Crossing

Death and Dying in Literature

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Edited By John J. Han and Clark C. Triplett

Since ancient times, writers and poets have grappled with death, dying, grief, and mourning in their works. The Final Crossing: Death and Dying in Literature compiles fifteen in-depth, scholarly, and original essays on death and dying in literature from around the globe and from different time periods. Written from a variety of critical perspectives, the essays target both scholars and serious students. Death and dying is an important area of study for a variety of disciplines, including psychology, psychiatry, sociology, gerontology, medical ethics, healthcare science, health law, and literary studies. The Final Crossing is a landmark compendium of academic essays on death and dying in literary texts, such as the Iliad, Ḥayy ibn Yaqẓān, Hamlet, The Secret Garden, and The Grapes of Wrath. This collection of essays not only brings an international flavor, but also a unique angularity to the discourse on thanatology. The novelty of perspectives reflects the diverse cultural and intellectual backgrounds of the contributors. This diversity opens up a fresh conversation on a number of age-old questions related to «the final crossing.» In this volume, readers will find an intriguing array of topics for further reflection and research.
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Chapter Five: Death as an Instrument for Social Criticism in Young Italian Literature

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CHAPTER FIVE

Death AS AN Instrument FOR Social Criticism IN Young Italian Literature

DANIELA CHANA



INTRODUCTION

In the late 1990s, something new and disturbing appeared on Italy’s literary scene. Young authors published exceptional debut novels written in an experimental style and coarse language dealing with issues such as deviant sexual behavior, crime, drugs, madness, and death. Publishers and critics dubbed these writers Giovani Cannibali (“Young Cannibals”), sometimes referred to as Italian Pulp (Lucamente 15–16; Turchetta 11–12).

In this paper, I do not aim to point out reasons why readers should feel shocked by their books; on the contrary, I seek to examine death as an instrument for social criticism in the work of selected authors of this movement. This essay is based on the assumption that drastic images of death can be used for a moral purpose. Up to now, most of the novels and short stories discussed in this paper have not received the publicity they deserve and have rarely or never been subjects of academic work. Only a few of them, like Simona Vinci’s books, have been translated into English and other languages. With this essay, I also hope to increase the popularity of these young authors.

TEENAGE MURDERERS

Simona Vinci’s debut novel, Dei bambini non si sa niente (1997, also published in English under the title What We Don’t Know about Children), tells the story of...

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