George Eliot and Italy : a discussion of the relationship between English and Italian literature in the second half of the nineteenth century through the eyes of George Eliot
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It is evident both from George Eliot's biography and from an analysis of her novels that the English novelist showed a deep interest in Italy and its culture. This fact puts forward a double set of questions: first of all whether George Eliot's works were read and studied in 19th century Italy, and, if not, when we can begin to talk of the Italian reception of her works; second, how this involvement in Italy relates to the Victorian cultural context and how it becomes concrete in George Eliot's novels. My analysis of the English novelist's fortune in Italy starts in the second half of the 19th century, and continues throughout the 20th century, when we can talk of a more widespread interest in her works. The fact that 19th century Italy showed a poor interest in George Eliot finds explanation in the nature of the Italian cultural context. It is nevertheless interesting to notice that the major Italian writer of the period, Giovanni Verga, showed in his novels an approach to Naturalism similar to that of George Eliot. As far as the question of Victorian interest in Italy, and especially of George Eliot's, is concerned, we can talk of a diffused interest in the country, which, though it led to different creative realisations, shows an approach to the country and its culture similar in different intellectuals. An analysis of the picture of Italy provided in George Eliot's novel Romola will clarify the nature of her interest in the country and its culture.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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