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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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Chapter 9The Pinocchioesque Fantasy: 1950–1980 185

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Chapter 9 The Pinocchioesque Fantasy: 1950–1980 The years that immediately followed the end of the Second World War were extremely dif ficult ones for the Italian economy. The country had suf fered greatly during the conf lict, and Italian industry and infrastructure had been badly damaged. It was not long, however, before Italian factories began to resume production, railway lines and bridges were restored and agricultural production returned to its pre-war levels.1 The discovery of natural gas and hydrocarbons in the Po Valley, the steady f low of Marshall Aid from America and the harsh def lationary policies introduced by Luigi Einaudi all helped to accelerate post-war recovery, and by 1970 the coun- try had become the world’s seventh ranking industrial state.2 So rapid and impressive was Italy’s growth that many historians refer to the period between 1958 and 1963 as having constituted an ‘Economic Miracle’.3 One of the most important factors behind Italy’s post-war economic boom was the availability of cheap labour, and during the 1950s and 1960s large numbers of impoverished southerners migrated to the north in search of better jobs and living conditions.4 The circumstances in which these 1 For more information on this historical period see Paul Ginsbourg, A History of Contemporary Italy, 1943–1980 (London: Penguin, 1990) and Aurelio Lepre, Storia della prima repubblica: L’Italia dal 1943 al 1988 (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1993). 2 Frederic Spotts and Theodor Wieser, Italy: A Dif ficult Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 194. 3 See: Ginsbourg, A...

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