Postal Culture: Writing and Reading Letters in Post-Unification Italy
Published: December 2013© 2013
288 Pages, 6.18 x 9.32 x 0.91 in
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The nationalization of the postal service in Italy transformed post-unification letter writing as a cultural medium. Both a harbinger of progress and an expanded, more efficient means of circulating information, the national postal service served as a bridge between the private world of personal communication and the public arena of information exchange and production of public opinion. As a growing number of people read and wrote letters, they became part of a larger community that regarded the letter not only as an important channel in the process of information exchange, but also as a necessary instrument in the education and modernization of the nation.
In Postal Culture, Gabriella Romani examines the role of the letter in Italian literature, cultural production, communication, and politics. She argues that the reading and writing of letters, along with epistolary fiction, epistolary manuals, and correspondence published in newspapers, fostered a sense of community and national identity and thus became a force for social change.
Chapter I: Postal Culture after 1861: an Introduction
Chapter II: Writing and Reading Letters: the Nationalization of the Italian Postal Service, Epistolary Manuals, and the Printed Media.
Chapter III: Fictionalizing the Letter: Giovanni Verga’s Storia di una capinera.
Chapter IV: Cœresponding with her Readers: the Sentimental Politics of Matilde Serao’s Epistolary Fiction.
Chapter V: Conclusions
Appendix: Letters transcribed from newspapers:
Ippolito Nievo: “Sulla convenienza per le fanciulle di adoperare anche nell’uso domestico la lingua comune italiana.” (La Ricamatrice)
Pacifico Valussi: “La Donna italiana: Lettera I, II, III, IV, V” (La Ricamatrice)
Caterina Percoto: “Memorie dal convento” I, II, III, IV (Giornale delle Famiglie)
Matilde Serao, “La serva” (La Stampa)
Marchesa Colombi, “La padrona” (La Stampa)
Neera, “La donna libera” (L’Illustrazione Italiana)
Marchesa Colombi, “La donna povera” (L’Illustrazione Italiana)
Anna Maria Mozzoni, “Lettera aperta a Matilde Serao.” (La Lega della Democrazia)
Matilde Serao, “Lettera aperta a Anna Maria Mozzoni.” (La Lega della Democrazia)
‘Engaging and important book…. Romani’s ability to entre a cordial dialogue with other scholars and her keenness to place her research within wider contexts make this book an incredible resource.’Maria Grazia Lolla, Modern Philology vol 113:02:2015
‘This is a valuable study which firmly places letter-writing in its cultural context at an important time in Italian history and highlights its significance in the construction of national identity.’Ursula Fanning, Modern Language Review vol 111:03:2016
“Timely, well-written, and highly interesting, Gabriella Romani’s book is an outstanding analysis of postal culture in Italy during the post-Risorgimento era. The period just after unification has received renewed attention in recent years, and Romani’s book adds much to the recent interest in the cultural and literary formation of Italy.” Laura Salsini, Department of Italian, University of Delaware