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Making the Italians

Poetics and Politics of Italian Children’s Fantasy

Lindsay Myers

Italian children’s literature has a diverse and unusual tradition of fantasy. With the exception of Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, however, it has remained almost entirely unknown outside of Italy. Why is it that Italian children’s fantasy has remained such a well-kept secret? How ‘international’ is the term ‘fantasy’, and to what extent has its development been influenced by local as well as global factors? Cross-cultural and cross-linguistic research into this neglected area is essential if we are to enrich our understanding of this important literary genre.
This book charts the history and evolution of Italian children’s fantasy, from its first appearance in the 1870s to the present day. It traces the structural and thematic progression of the genre in Italy and situates this development against the changing backdrop of Italian culture, society and politics. The author argues that ever since the foundation of Italy as a nation-state the Italian people have been actively involved in an ongoing process of identity formation and that the development of children’s fantasy texts has been inextricably intertwined with sociopolitical and cultural imperatives.

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Acknowledgements ix

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Acknowledgements This book has been a long time in the making. The idea to investigate the history and evolution of the Italian fantasy for children first came to me as an undergraduate when I came across a rare copy of Luigi Bertelli’s Cion- dolino in a second hand bookshop in Florence, and several of the chapters in this volume have their origins in research carried out for my doctoral dis- sertation in Italian Children’s Literature at University College Dublin. Finding and accessing Italian children’s books, particularly those writ- ten more than fifty years ago can be quite a challenge at times, and there is little doubt but that this work would never have been completed without the support of both University College Dublin and the National Univer- sity of Ireland, Galway. The NUIG Millennium Research Fund enabled several essential research trips to the Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence, while funds from the Triennial Travel Grant made it possible for me to visit both the Archivio Antonio Rubino in San Remo and the Fondazi- one Alberto Colonnetti in Turin. I am particularly indebted to the librar- ian at the Colonnetti Foundation, Raf faella Bellucci Sessa, who gave me unrestricted access to the children’s books in their precious collection, to Antonio Rubino’s niece, Antonietta Rubino Cutini, who showed me round the Rubino Archive and to Giovanna and Franca Viglongo from the Viglongo Publishing House in Turin who shared with me Giovanni Bertinetti’s unpublished manuscripts and personal memorabilia. Research is often a very lonely...

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