Imaginary homeland: romantic women writers and Italy
Bordoni, Silvia (2004) Imaginary homeland: romantic women writers and Italy. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
The aim of this work is to investigate the importance of Italy, as a real and imaginary country, in British Romanticism, particularly in women's writings. Since the heyday of the Grand Tour, Italy has been approached as an alien and distant country, but also as a liberating and stimulating reality. Italy as an 'other country' constitutes an important element in the delineation of British Romanticism. The opposition between North and South, which was developed and consolidated by Romantic authors, constitutes the theoretical frame for this work. As part of southern Europe, Italy stands in opposition to Northern societies. North and South, however, are not simply in opposition; they merge and interconnect in the literary production of the time. Italy and Great Britain exemplify the dialogical connection between apparently irreconcilable opposites. In women's writings, Italy is exploited as an alternative imaginary setting onto which they can project their anxieties, their artistic ambitions and their dreams of literary success. The role of Italy in women's writings is important to demonstrate their participation in contemporary social, national and political issues. The work focuses first on travel reports and the real encounter with Italy. Then it analyses the imaginary figurations of Italy in Gothic literature and in poetry at the end of the eighteenth century. With the beginning of the nineteenth century, the idea of Italy as a morally liberating and artistically stimulating country is consolidated in the works of Stael and Byron. The representation of Italy as an ideal country for women artists makes their support of the Italian fight for independence particularly important. Since Italy represents a feminised and politically enslaved country, women associate its effort to gain freedom with their own struggle for political and social emancipation.
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