Representations of Italy and Italians in British fiction and travel writing, 1900-1930
This thesis is conceived as a critical exploration of the construction of Italy and Italians in texts by British writers published between 1900 and 1930. Despite this period representing the heyday of writers in and writing on Italy, scholarship on the specifically Italian-centred rhetoric and its significance is sketchy (though advancing): one must look piecemeal to literature on travel-writing, literary modernism, Englishncss and regionalism, or on imperialist-colonialist discourse or on the Mediterranean in literature; and to pre- 1900 periods such as Grand Tourism, Romanticism, the rise of mass tourism in the Victorian age; or the inter-war period. Drawing from this network of scholarship in detailed analyses of a dozen writers' works, a picture is built up of the principal characteristics of literary constructions of Italy and Italians in terms of tropes, rhetorical strategies and themes, accounting for their predominance, while maintaining a sense of variety and change within the parameters of genre and period. The selection of writers is based on their high standing in contemporary literary circles, their personal contact with Italy and the popularity of their texts during the period. Each chapter examines writing on a particular region of Italy - Capri, Tuscany, the North and the South - drawing out the specific connotations of place found in and constructed by the texts. By scrutffuzing the workings of fiction and travel writing on Italy in the light of the discourses and contexts outlined above, the thesis will show that literary representations of Italy provide a window onto the way British writers conceived of British identity as well as of Italy and its people, during the first three decades of the century.