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The Peasant and the Pen

Men, Enterprise, and the Recovery of Culture in Italian American Narrative


George Guida

Often portrayed as criminals or amoral opportunists, Italian American men have been among the most misrepresented and misunderstood ethnic groups of the past century. This book provides a deeper understanding of Italian American manhood through careful readings of Italian, Italian American, and other narrative texts. Beginning with an analysis of Giovanni Verga’s late-nineteenth-century Sicilian peasant tales, it follows the journey of Italian American men as depicted in Horatio Alger’s rags-to-riches stories, immigrant autobiographies, John Fante’s realistic novels of first-generation male angst, and Anthony Valerio’s narratives of the struggle for personal and cultural identity in contemporary America.