By Arnold Anthony Schmidt (auth.)
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Extra info for Byron and the Rhetoric of Italian Nationalism
The first moment of an universal republic would convert me into an advocate for single and uncontradicted despotism” By ron a nd Ita ly 35 (Byron, Letters 3: 244, 242). The comment—that a vocal supporter of republics, would on their arrival suddenly advocate despotism—has the breezily entertaining flavor of Byronic discourse. Can he seriously mean what he says? In letters and poetry, Byron makes statements like this all too frequently, leaving readers utterly unsure exactly where he stands. ” “Give me a republic, or a despotism of one, rather than the mixed government of one, two, three.
What remains is to make Italians” (L’italia è fatto. Restano a fare gli italiani). That process of—and debate about—“making Italians” continued from the nineteenth century until the fall of Fascism, the end of the monarchy, and the birth of the republic in 1946. During that long span of years, Byron’s poetry and biography appear repeatedly in the discourse about Italy’s national identity. As Umberto Levra points out, though, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Italians thought about nationhood in two ways.
Resonating with patriotic intentions” (973). This patriotic intent in part accounts for the ways in which readers responded to literary works on historical topics by Garibaldi, Guerrazzi, Manzoni, Nicolini, Nievo, and Pellico. Nationalist audiences applauded Pellico’s Francesca da Rimini when performed at Milan’s Theatre Royal in 1815, especially the closing act with its condemnation of foreign occupation and its call to fight for Italy (Holt 41). Readers responded to the nationalist sentiments of texts by Byron as well, especially Childe Harold and The Prophecy of Dante.