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IT5: Reading List

Preparatory reading

In addition to familiarising yourself with the primary texts listed above, students may wish to consult the following preliminary readings on Italian history, identity, regionalism, polycentrism, language:

  • Asor Rosa, A., 1989. 'Centralismo e policentrismo nella letteratura italiana unitaria', in Id. (ed.), Letteratura italiana. Storia e geografia, vol. III, L'età contemporanea. Turin: Einaudi, pp.5-74.
  • Coletti, V., 1993. Storia dell'italiano letterario: dalle origini al Novecento. Turin: Einaudi.
  • Dionisotti, C., 1967. Geografia e storia della letteratura italiana. Turin: Einaudi, pp.1-54, 89-124.
  • Duggan, C., 1994. 'The geographical determinants of disunity' in Id., A Concise History of Italy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Levy, C. (ed.), 1996. Italian Regionalism: History, Identity and Politics. Oxford: Berg.
  • Raimondi, E., 1998. Letteratura e identità nazionale. Milan: Bruno Mondadori.

Topic 1: Florence: Boccaccio's Decameron

Core text

  • Selections from Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron (students should if possible purchase or otherwise get their hands on an edition with notes by V. Branca).
    Boccaccio can be difficult to read in the original Italian. If you're having trouble, try reading an English translation of the story in question first so that you know what to expect and then try reading the story in the original. The Brown University Decameron web site (see below) has a hyperlinked original text plus translation that will allow you to skip back and forth as needed. Inexpensive editions of English translations are also widely available.
  • Read as much of the Decameron as you can. Lectures and exams will focus on the following novelle:
  • Proemio e Introduzione
  • I,1 I,6
  • II,3 II,5 II,10
  • III,1 III,3 III,4 III,7 III,9
  • IV,1 IV,7 IV,8 IV,9
  • V,9
  • VI,1 VI,2 VI,3 VI, 4 VI, 5 VI, 7 VI,8 VI,9 VI, 10
  • VII,6 VII,8
  • IX,3 IX,7 IX,8
  • X,6 X,10

Other Resources:

  • (primary sources on the plague in Florence, maps of places referenced in the novelle, bibliography, bilingual hypertext)
  • Kirkham, Victoria. The sign of reason in Boccaccio's fiction. Florence: L.S. Olschki, 1993.
  • Levenstein, Jessica. "Out of Bounds: Passion and the Plague in Boccaccio's Decameron." Italica Vol. 73, No. 3 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 313-335
  • Mazzotta, Giuseppe. The World at Play in Boccaccio's Decameron. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1986.
  • Migiel, Marilyn. A Rhetoric of the Decameron. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.
  • Ricketts, Jill M. Visualizing Boccaccio. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • Wallace, David. Boccaccio: Decameron (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991)
  • Watson, Paul F. "The Cement of Fiction: Giovanni Boccaccio and the Painters of Florence" MLN Vol. 99, No. 1, Italian Issue (Jan., 1984), pp. 43-64
  • Supervisors will guide students to other resources according to their interests.


Topic 2: Urbino: Castiglione's Il libro del Cortegiano (1528)

Core text: Baldassare Castiglione, Il libro del Cortegiano

Preliminary reading on Castiglione

  • Anglo, S., 1977. 'The Courtier: The Renaissance and Changing Ideals', in A. G. Dickens (ed.), The Courts of Europe: Politics, Patronage and Royalty, 1400-1800. London: Thames and Hudson, pp. 33-53.
  • Burke, P., 1988. 'Il cortigiano', in E. Garin (ed.), L'uomo del Rinascimento. Bari: Laterza, pp. 133-65; English version 'The Courtier', in E. Garin (ed.), Renaissance Characters, trans. by L. Cochrane. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997, pp. 98-122.
  • Burke, P., 1995. The Fortunes of the Courtier: The European Reception of Castiglione's Cortegiano. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Burke, P., 1999. The Italian Renaissance: Culture and Society in Italy, 2nd edn. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Hale, J. R. (ed.), 1980. A Concise Encyclopaedia of the Italian Renaissance. London: Thames and Hudson.
  • Hanning, Robert W., and David Rosand (eds), 1983. Castiglione: The Ideal and the Real in Renaissance Culture. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Mackenney, R., 2004. Renaissances: The Cultures of Italy, c.1300-c.1600. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Ossola, C. (ed.) 1980. La corte e il "Cortegiano": I. La scena del testo. Centro studi 'Europa delle corti', Biblioteca del Cinquecento. Rome: Bulzoni.
  • Ossola, Carlo, 1987. Dal "Cortegiano" all' "Uomo di mondo": storia di un libro e di un modello sociale. Turin: Einaudi, 1987.
  • Woodhouse, J. R., 1978. Baldesar Castiglione: A reassessment of 'The Courtier' . Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.. London: Batsford.


Topic 3: Rome: Belli’s Sonetti romaneschi

‘If you want to know Rome you have to read him. In his poems the whole world is reduced to the city.’ Thus Anthony Burgess on the Roman poems of Giuseppe Gioachino Belli (1791-1863). This topic examines Belli’s Sonetti romaneschi and 19th-century Rome in particular as a locus of anti-papal and anti-establishment satire. Belli goes so far as to invent his own literary language to capture the strange sounds he hears issuing from the mouths of the Roman plebs as they take aim at the powerbrokers of the city and state (the fusion of temporal and spiritual powers). This topic will discuss how a very local setting of a demotic, marginalised set of characters manages to become a type of human comedy on a wider scale in the run-up to Italian unification.

Core text: Selection from Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, Sonetti (published posthumously) [In Roman dialect, with glosses in standard Italian]

The best anthology is probably Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, Sonetti, ed. by Giorgio Vigolo and Pietro Gibellini (Milan: Mondadori, 1978)

Alternatively, see the complete edition: Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, Tutti i sonetti romaneschi, ed. by Marcello Teodonio (Rome: Newton Compton, 1998). 

All the sonnets are freely available, with Belli’s annotations, online here.

Preliminary reading on Belli:

  • Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, author’s introduction (in all editions)
  • Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, Sonnets, trans. by Mike Stocks (Richmond, Surrey: Oneworld Classics, 2007) [See especially ‘Extra Material’ section, pp. 137-162.]
  • Mario Chiesa and Giovanni Tesio (eds.), Il dialetto da lingua della realtà a lingua della poesia: da Porta e Belli a Pasolini (Turin: Paravia, 1978)
  • Eleanor Clark, Rome and a Villa (Henley-on-Thames: Aidan Ellis, 1974) [See chapter on Belli, pp. 330 – 368.]
  • Barbara Garvin, ‘G. G. Belli and Roman dialect’ in Italian Dialects and Literature From the Renaissance to the Present , ed. by Emmanuela Tandello and Diego Zancani, Supplement I of the Journal of the Institute of Romance Studies (London, 1996), pp. 53-71
  • Emerico Giachery, Belli e Roma: Tra Carnevale e Quaresima (Rome: Edizioni Studium, 2007)
  • Pietro Gibellini, ‘La scrittura “orale” di G.G. Belli. Sette appunti’, in La Ricerca Folklorica, No. 15 (April, 1987), 75-80 [Available on JSTOR]
  • Paul Howard, ‘In sti tempi d'abbissi e rribbejjone: G G Belli’s silent revolution’ in The Politics of Poetics: Poetry and Social Activism in Early-Modern through Contemporary Italy, ed. by Federica Santini and Giovanna Summerfield (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013), pp. 29-62
  • Edoardo Ripari, L'accetta e il fuoco: cultura storiografica, politica e poesia in Giuseppe Gioachino Belli (Rome: Bulzoni, 2010) [Available online]
  • Marcello Teodonio, Introduzione a Belli (Rome: Laterza, 1992)


Topic 4: Sicily: Giovanni Verga

Core texts: I Malavoglia (1881), Mastro Don Gesualdo (1889), Selections from Vita dei Campi and Novelle Rusticane

Other suggested reading:

Students are also encouraged to familiarize themselves with Verga's earlier prose works (Il Marito di Elena, Tigre reale, Eros, Storia di una capinera) in order to better understand the specificity of his Verismo literary production.

Peliminary reading on Verga

  • Alexander, A., 1972. Giovanni Verga: A Great Writer and His World. London: Grant and Cutler.
  • Barberi Squarotti, G. (1982). Verga: le finzioni dietro il Verismo. Palermo: Flaccovio.
  • Blazina, S. (1989). Poetica e procedimenti narrativi nel romanzo verghiano. Turin: Tirrenia Stampatori. /li>
  • Borsellino, N. (1984). Storia di Verga. Rome and Bari: Laterza.
  • Debenedetti, G. (1976). Verga e il naturalismo. Milan: Garzanti.
  • Lepschy, A. L., 1984. Narrativa e teatro fra due secoli: Verga, Invernizio, Svevo, Pirandello. Florence: Olschki.
  • Luperini, R. (1968). Pessimismo e Verismo in Giovanni Verga. Padua: Liviana.
  • Nencioni, G. (1988). La lingua dei "Malavoglia". Naples: Morano.
  • Patruno, N., 1977. Language in Giovanni Verga's Early Novels. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Department of Romance Languages.
  • Russo, L. (1920). Giovanni Verga. Napoli: Ricciardi (any edition).
  • Sciascia, L. (1961). 'Verga e il Risorgimento', in Id. Pirandello e la Sicilia. Caltanissetta and Rome: S. Sciascia, pp. 125-32.
  • Wlassics, T. (1986). Nel mondo dei "Malavoglia". Pisa: Giardini.
  • Woolf, D., 1977. The Art of Verga: A Study in Objectivity. Sydney: Sydney University Press.