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"Patria'-otic Incarnations and Italian Character: discourses of nationalism in Ippolito Nievo's Confessioni d'un Italiano.

In the final chapter of Ippolito Nievo's Confessioni d'un Italiano, the narrator Carlino announces that he will "close" his confessions just how they began--in the name of la Pisana. (l) He writes, "Chiudo queste Confessioni nel nome della Pisana come le ho cominciate e ringrazio fin d'ora i lettori della loro pazienza" (883). (2) This declaration of closure would certainly strike his readers (who up to that point have patiently followed him through twenty-two chapters) as strange, for the Confessioni did not at all begin in the name of la Pisana. In fact, she doesn't enter the narrative until the end of the first chapter, well after an anecdote about a certain Monsignor Orlando and a long, complicated lesson on Venetian laws. Instead, the Confessioni begin in the name of patria.

In the introduction to his first chapter, Carlino offers "una breve introduzione sui motivi di queste mie Confessioni," which takes up the "significato che si dava in Italia alla parola patria, allo scadere del secolo scorso" (3). The notion of patria is foregrounded in the introduction, and is quickly underscored by Carlino's first lines: "Io nacqui veneziano ai 18 ottobre del 1775, giorno deli'evangelista san Luca; e morro per la grazia di Dio italiano quando lo vorra quella Provvidenza che governa misteriosamente il mondo" (3; emphasis mine). With this statement, Carlino evokes a shift from one patria, Venice, to another, Italy, which in turn, implies a particular movement of the narrative. He is expected to become "Italian," leaving behind the castello di Fratta and Venice for the larger patria of Italy. After all, the title of the novel is Confessioni d'un Italiano. As the narrative plays out, however, the shift is not from patria to patria, but instead an "unnatural" passage from patria to Pisana.

The question, of course, is why? Why does la Pisana become a substitute for patria? Moreover, how does she come to embody patria? This essay suggests that the answers lie in the rhetoric and symbols inherent in the national project of "making Italy" during the nineteenth century. (3) In particular, terms like "pai-ria," "indole," "carattere," "nazione," and even "italiano" were still dangerously ambiguous; they were freefloating signifiers whose meanings were determined entirely by context, changing from one situation to the next. Within Nievo's Confessioni, the mutability of their signification is painfully evident.

Some fifty years prior to the writing of the Confessioni, the aftermath of the French Revolution, the Treaty of Campo Formio in 1797 and Napoleon's subsequent reign in Italy prompted the first literary considerations of Italy as a nation-state. Specifically, its theorization as nation-state evolved vis-a-vis the "character and customs" of Italians.

Ironically, a French author, Madame de Stael, was one of the first to comment upon the "Italian character and customs" in her bestselling novel, Corinne, ou l'Italie (1807). In the chapter dedicated entirely to the aforementioned qualities, she writes:
 Il y a dans ce pays un bizarre melange
 de simplicite et de corruption, de
 dissimulation et de verite, de bonhomie
 et de vengeance, de faiblesse et
 de force, qui s'explique par une
 observation constante: c'est que les
 bonnes qualites viennent de ce qu'on
 n'y fait rien pour la vanite, et les
 mauvaises de ce qu'on y fait beaucoup
 pour l'interet, soit que cet interet
 tienne a l'amour, a l'ambition ou a la fortune. (101) (4)


Her descriptions of Italian character kicked off a series of debates within Italy, the most famous of which was the vehement response, Discorso sopra lo stato presente del costurai degl'Italiani (1824), written by an incensed Giacomo Leopardi.

Leopardi berates foreign writers, like de Stael, who look on Italy as an "oggetto di curiosita," and who claim an intimate knowledge of a country with which they have become infatuated after only a few weeks of travel. He writes,
 Nei quali libri pero gli scrittori
 [stranieri] incorrono senza loro colpa e
 per natura del soggetto in due
 inconvenienti, l'uno che spesso errano,
 essendo impossibile a uno straniero il
 conoscere perfettamente un'altra
 nazione, massime dopo non lunga
 dimora, l'altro che dicendo o il falso,
 anche il vero, che sia alcun poco
 sfavorevole a quelli di cui parlano,
 benche il dicano senz'animosita veruna
 [...] si concitano l'odio della
 nazione di cui scrivono. (47-48) (5)


Leopardi specifically confronts de Stael's Corinne, noting that none of her writing about Italian customs had a particular utility, "non ci sono di veruna utilita" (48). Yet Leopardi admits that Italians, with the possible exception of himself, did not write or even think about character or customs: "Gl'Italiani stessi non iscrivono ne pensano sui loro costumi, come sopra niun'altra cosa che importi e giovi ad essi o agli altri" (48-49). It was only after Leopardi's groundbreaking work that attention was paid by "Italians" to the idea of Italian character, or in the parlance of the era, il carattere italiano.

It is important to note that from Leopardi onward, the notion of carattere continued to change. For example, in Vincenzo Gioberti's great opus, del primato morale e civile degli italiani (1843), il carattere italiano is charged with an historical valence. By knitting the glory of Italy's past into its present citizens, Gioberti could claim a certain primacy of Italians that would insure the place of Italy in the circle of great nations. (6)

While Gioberti ostensibly posited the existence of a carattere nazionale, it wasn't until the Risorgimento that the idea of il carattere italiano became conflated with national character, as demonstrated in the writings of D'Azeglio (1867) and Mazzoleni (1873), to name but a few. (7) For example, Mazzoleni writes in his chapter entitled "il carattere italiano" that, "il carattere dell'uomo e l'ordito indispensabile su cui si tessono le virtu del cittadino; si facciano degli uomini onesti e l'Italia avra gli Italiani che le abbisognano" (204). Here, the rhetoric of nationalism is evoked insofar as "character" is expressly linked to the "citizens" of Italy. Or, as Silvana Patriarca put it, "the making of Italians 'of character' was what the authors of this literature thought necessary to ensure the common good of the country" (309). By the end of the nineteenth century, "character" had become firmly ensconced in the paradigm of making the Italian nation-state--il carattere italiano was now synonymous with il carattere nazionale. (8)

In the twentieth century, the debates on Italian national character have been translated into the vocabularies of national identity, especially during the late 1980s and 1990s, in the wake of Benedict Anderson's watershed book, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (1983). While there is much scholarship on the development of italianita through the twentieth century (especially during the fascist period), much of that scholarship casts Italianness in terms of constructed identities, that is, in the very vocabulary set forth by Anderson. (9) Moreover, the literature on Italian identities exploded in the early 1990s, as "Italy" responded with an inward self-questioning to a series of domestic events (the mafia assassinations of Paolo Borsellino and Giovanni Falcone; the ensuing Tangentopoli scandals; the fall of the Christian Democratic Party coupled by the rise of new political parties such as the Lega Nord) and external shocks (the fall of the Berlin wall; war in neighboring Yugoslavia; the increasing tempo of European integration; the rapid rise of immigrants and refugees from North Africa and the Balkans). As political, economic and social structures crumbled around it, Italy, too, was viewed as being on the verge of disintegration. As Patriarca has correctly noted, the scholarship certainly reflects those anxieties, with publications such as Aurelio Lepre's Italia, addio? Unita e disunita dal 1860 ad oggi (1994), Gian Enrico Rusconi's Se cessiamo di essere una nazione: tra etnodemocrazie regionali e cittadinanza europea (1993), or Piero Ottone's Il tramonto della nostra civilta (1994). (10) In spite of their pessimism, all of the publications on Italian identity in the 1990s seem to recognize the inherent constructedness of the term.

In fact, ten years prior to Anderson's theorization of the nation as an imagined community, publishing executive Giulio Bollati penned his foundational essay, L'italiano: il carattere nazionale come storia e come invenzione (1972), which proposes that national character is something imagined, or, "invented." (11) He notes that:
 Gli italiani sono senza carattere, e il grido
 di scrittori e politici tra Sette
 e Ottocento. Carattere, cioe qui,
 con significativa opzione semantica,
 tempra, fibra morale [...] Questo e lo
 schema che finira col prevalere, ma
 di cui bisognera sempre controllare il
 significato, o i significati, retrostanti.
 I contenuti della pedagogia
 risorgimentale possono risultare
 discordi, disponendosi in un repertorio
 che va dall'estetismo eroicizzante
 del Foscolo alle tisane di "buon
 senso e buon cuore" offerte da
 Cesare Cantu con vocina di lupo
 travestito da nonna. La concordia e
 nella pedagogia stessa, che fa del
 Risorgimento un'aula immane. La letteratura
 e in prima linea nell'attivita docente. (59; emphasis mine)


In addition to acknowledging the different valences accorded to "il carattere" (from Foscolo's heroicizing aethesticism to Cantu's quasimedicinal compound of 'good sense and good heart'), Bollati suggests that literature is the ideal venue to observe these semantic metamorphoses. (12) Yet in his analysis of carattere and nazione in several literary works of the Ottocento, Bollati, and the scholars who followed him, overlook two critical terms intrinsic to the debate at the time: patria and indole.

Taking Bollati's suggestion that the literature of the Risorgimento is the consummate example through which to learn about Italian national character, Nievo's Confessioni d'un Italiano (1867) reveals a heretofore unexplored symbiotic relationship between patria and indole, which is accordingly connected to both carattere and nazione. In the Confessioni, all of these terms are decidedly ambiguous. For example, patria may at times refer to a homeland in Italy, or Venice, or even the castello di Fratta in the Friulian countryside. Indole is expressly used to describe the constitution of a person, that is, one's temperament. Yet in the Confessioni, patria is often anthropomorphized, taking on precisely the characteristics constitutive of one's indole, and indole comes to express the very qualities that shape the Italian nation-state.

To further complicate these already ambiguous concepts, there is an especially pronounced conflation of patria and indole in the character of la Pisana. While numerous scholars have written about Pisana, their analyses often only go so far as to describe her strange, complex, sensuous, impetuous nature, or to set her up in a binary opposition with Clara. (13) Indeed, some of the more recent studies have been so preoccupied with Nievo's political and territorial circumstances that la Pisana is hardly mentioned at all. (14)

There are a few exceptions in the scholarship, such as Giuliana Sanguinetti Katz's psychoanalytic reading of la Pisana (1981) and more importantly, Francesco Olivari's insightful consideration of "l'idea di indole" (1993) and Ezio Raimondi's meditation on the relationship between the Confessioni and "un'Italia futura" (1998). (15) For Olivari, contradiction (and thus ambiguity) is built into the notion of indole, which is best embodied by la Pisana:
 Per questo l'indole e, nelle
 Confessioni, una verita inconfutabile,
 un'idea non contraddicibile: perche ha
 in se stessa la possibilita della
 propria contraddizione. Le contraddizioni
 fanno parte dell'idea che
 definisce l'indole, cosi come e per
 quella esemplare rappresentata dalla
 Pisana e in misura minore da Carlino. (226)


Yet although Olivari establishes the hegemony of la Pisana with regard to indole, he overlooks her clear association with the idea of patria. (16)

Raimondi comes the closest to linking la Pisana with the discourses of nationalism in that he acknowledges the Confessioni are: "una microstoria interna a quel movimento storico generale che portera alla nazione italiana" (132), implying that the interlacement between the storia nazionale of Italy and the storia personale of Carlino and la Pisana is integral to the messy process of transforming Italy into a nation. Yet Raimondi takes the Confessioni as a romanzo di formazione, and likewise, concentrates on interrogating the text through the vocabularies of time and memory, especially in regard to the loss of giovinezza. In doing so, he also overlooks the unquestionable bond between patria and la Pisana, even though he hints at it throughout his chapter. (17)

In contrast, the central claim of this essay is that indole and patria coexist in a sort of pastiche embodied by the character of la Pisana in Nievo's Confessioni. In turn, this conflation can be read as an alternative discourse to the "artificial" vocabularies of nationalism--the constructedness of il carattere nazionale--that emerged in the literature of the Risorgimento Italy. (18) As a figure for patria, la Pisana taps into a rich genealogy of gendered (female) representations that, in the Italian context, dates back to Virgil, Dante and Petrarch. In her symbolic recall to a textual past, to a literary genealogy, la Pisana, then, represents the culmination of a "natural" evolution--the female embodiment of patria. Given this context, it then makes perfect sense for Nievo to open his Confessioni in the name of patria and close them in the name of la Pisana.

At the same time, however, la Pisana's embodiment of patria is perverted by the artificial discourses of nationalism that arise during the Risorgimento. She is forced to manage such novel ideas as the carattere nazionale, which exist uneasily alongside her more "traditional" incarnation of patria. In the end, la Pisana (and subsequently, Nievo himself) fails to completely resist the new discourses of nationalism, but at the same time, she does not entirely acquiesce to them. The result is a complex, delirious, bizarre and unreal creature with a tumultuous and mercurial indole; a perverse and incomplete transformation of a woman (and an author) caught between patria and nation-state.

Patria Personified

In spite of the slippages in its signification (as Italia, Venice, or the castello di Fratta),patria is consistently personified throughout the Confessioni. The narrative opens with a description of the legal morass governing the relations between two neighboring provinces, Friuli and Venice. At one point, the narrator Carlino remarks, "Ai signori sindaci parve con quel decreto aver sufficientemente operato per l'immediata utilita della fedelissima Patria, laonde tornarono a partorir proclami" (23). From the outset, patria is imbued with a human characteristic, insofar as it can demonstrate extreme faithfulness ("fedelissima patria").

Just as patria can be faithful, it can also be beautiful--
 Quanto sei bella, quanto sei grande, o
 patria mia, in ogni tua parte! ... A
 cercarti cogli occhi, materia inanimata,
 sulle spiaggie portuose dei mari,
 nel verde interminabile delle pianure,
 nell'ondeggiare fresco e boscoso
 dei colli, tra le creste azzurrine
 degli Appennini ele candidissime
 dell'Alpi, sei dappertutto un sorriso,
 una fatalita, un incanto! A cercarti,
 spirito e gloria, nelle eterne pagine
 della storia, nell'eloquente grandezza
 dei monumenti, nella viva gratitudine
 dei popoli, sempre apparisci
 sublime, sapiente, regina! (605-06)


The patria referenced in this passage is Italy (compared to the aforementioned "fedelissima patria" of Friuli). It is accorded anthropomorphic characteristics such as beauty and grandeur ("quanto sei bella, quanto sei grande"), and it is also firmly placed in a discourse of embodiment. No longer does patria simply assume human qualities, it makes a preposterous leap from imitation to incarnation. Patria is not merely like a beautiful woman, instead, patria becomes 'human'--she is a smile; she is a queen.

At the same time, however, patria is more than human, insofar as it is the condition for glory, fortune, justice and honor, and it can never die. As Carlino's father, a Venetian who has effectively "turned Turk" after spending decades in the Orient, bequeaths him an allowance of 7,000 ducats, he cautions:
 Guarda il tuo fatto; e pensa sempre
 a Venezia; non lasciarti abbagliare
 ne da fortuna ne da ricchezze ne da
 gloria. La gloria c'e quando si ha
 una patria; stima la fortuna e le
 ricchezze quando siano assicurate dalla
 liberta e dalla giustizia. (503)


This admonition to "always think of Venice" ("pensa sempre a Venezia") implies that patria is a necessary precondition for liberty and justice, which will lead Carlino to "true" glory, fortune, and riches. Moreover, patria can never die. As Carlino reflects on the death of his friend Leopardo, the narrator remarks, "Cosi pensa il giovane sul sepolcro dell'amico; Cosi si conforta la vecchiaia nel baldanzoso aspetto dei giovani. La giustizia, l'onore, la patria vivono nel mio cuore, e non morranno mai" (508). In this moment, the narrative breaks from the firstperson voice of Carlino, and describes him in the third person. He is "il giovane sul sepolcro dell'amico." If this is the case, and the notions of justice, honor and patria live on "nel mio cuore," the question becomes: whose heart? It is likely the heart of Nievo himself. In this glimmer of the authorial voice, he becomes implicated in the discourses of justice, honor and especially, patria.

Two more examples of the personification of patria are figured in the city of Venice. In one case, Venice is represented as a family, "Venezia era una famiglia cosifatta. Uaristocrazia dominante decrepita; il popolo snervato nell'ozio ma che pur ringiovaniva nella coscienza da se al soffio creativo della filosofia" (224). The representation of Venice as a family echoes Anne McClintock's suggestion that the principal trope of the nation (a form of patria) is the family, insofar as "the cult of domesticity was a crucial, if concealed dimension of male as well as female identities--shifting and unstable as these were" (5); identities (especially female ones) became, according to McClintock, indispensable elements in the construction of nations as well as empires. (19)

Ina similar vein, patria again makes the leap from imitation to embodiment as Venice becomes figured as female--this time incamated as an evanescent mother:
 O Venezia, o madre antica di sapienza e
 di liberta! Ben lo spirito tuo era
 allora pih sparuto e pih nebbioso
 dell'aspetto! Egli svaniva oggimai in
 quella cieca oscurita del passato che
 distrugge perfino le orme della vita;
 restano le memorie, ma altro non sono
 che fantasmi; resta la speranza, il
 lungo sogno dei dormenti. T'aveva io
 amato moribonda e decrepita? ...
 Non so, non voglio dirlo.--Ma quando
 ti vidi ravvolta nel sudario del
 sepolcro, quando ti ammirai bella
 e maestosa fra le braccia della morte,
 quando sentii freddo il tuo cuore e spento
 sulle labbra l'ultimo alito, allora
 una tempesta di dolore di disperazione
 di rimorso mi sollevo le profonde
 passioni deli'anima! Allora provai la
 rabbia dei proscritto, la desolazione
 dell'orfano, il tormento del parricidio!
 ... Parricidio, parricidio! Gridano
 ancora echi luttosi del Palazzo Ducale. (552; emphasis mine)


Here, Venice is no longer just anthropomorphic but instead the figure of an ancient mother ("madre antica") who, in the eyes of Carlino, is beautiful and majestic even in arms of death ("bella e maestosa fra le braccia della morte"). Patria is so human that it has a literal body that beats and breathes through heart and lips ("quando sentii freddo il tuo cuore e spento sulle labbra l'ultimo alito"). At first, the personification and eventual incarnation of patria in the Confessioni seems striking. When contextualized in Italy's literary heritage, however, Nievo's anthropomorphic figuration of patria, especially as a female figure, is certainly preceded and likely informed by a rich genealogy of personified patrie that date back to Virgil, Dante, and Petrarch.

Personified Patrie Past

In the Italian tradition, that is, the textual genealogy that Nievo appropriates for la Pisana, patria is almost always figured as a woman, from Virgil's Lavinia in the Aeneid, to Petrarch's Rome in his Familiares, up to Nievo's own representation of Venice. It is interesting precisely because at the root of patria is the father. Etymologically, the Latin word patria, meaning 'one's native land, city, etc.; place of origin' (from which the current Italian usage is derived), stems from the word patrius, meaning 'of or belonging to the father; paternal.' (20) In turn, patrius derives directly from pater, meaning 'father, sire, founder, or head.' As patria is etymologically and thus inherently male, the father becomes the figure of foundation, or better yet, the figure of origin. Moreover, the insistent (re)presentation of patria as female might be seen as a compensatory gesture, rearing up against the illogicality of a father as the primary source of reproduction. In fact, at precisely

the moment that Nievo is writing his Confessioni, madrepatria enters the rhetoric of the Risorgimento and the discourse of il carattere nazionale. (21) By linking the mother (madre) to the father inherent in patria, perhaps this neologism is an (unconscious?) attempt to balance the gendered asymmetries intrinsic to the etymology and representation of patria, respectively. In any case, patria is undoubtedly a locus that holds in tension the "shifting and unstable dimensions" of maleness as well as femaleness.

In his Confessioni, Nievo unsurprisingly, then, taps into a long genealogy of personified patrie, a genealogy that for all intents and purposes begins with Lavinia of Virgil'sAeneid. In the poem, Lavinia is figured as the land of Aeneas' destiny. The epic opens:
 Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris
 Italiam fato profugus laviniaque venit
 Litor, multum ille et terris iactatus et alto
 Vi superum saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram,
 Multa quoque et bello passus, dum conderet urben
 Inferretque deos Latio, genus unde Latinum
 Albanique patres atue altae moenia Romae.
 [I sing of warfare and a man at war. /
 From the sea-coast of Troy in early
 days / He came to Italy by destiny, /
 To our Lavinian western shore, /
 A fugitive, this captain, buffeted
 / Cruelly on land as on the sea / By
 blows from powers of the air--behind
 them / Baleful Juno in her sleepless
 rage. / And cruel losses were bis lot
 in war, / Till he could found a
 city and bring home / His gods to
 Latium, land of the Latin race, / The
 Alban lords, and the high walls of Rome.] (I.1-12)


As the daughter of King Latinus and his wife Amata, rulers of the Latin people, Lavinia is destined to marry Aeneas, and together, their progeny would create the "Italian race." In this passage, Lavinia is not a person, instead she embodies the land; she is the western shore of Italy. Fourteen centuries later, Dante, also reading Virgil, personifies multiple patrie, most prolifically in Canto VI of Purgatorio. He begins in his famous Apostrofe all'Italia, by characterizing Italy as a servant and a whore: "Ahi serva Italia, di dolore ostello, / nave senza nocchiere in gran tempesta, / non donna di provincie, ma bordello!" (Purg. VI.76-78). Continuing in this vein, Rome gets figured as a lonely, weeping widow, "Vieni a veder la tua Roma che piange / vedova e sola, e di e notte chiama: / 'Cesare mio, perche non m'accompagne?'" (Purg. VI.112-14). At the end of the canto, now it is Florence that is incarnated as a sickly woman ("quella inferma"): "E se ben ti ricordi e vedi lume, / vedrai te somigliante a quella inferma / che non puo trovar posa in su le piume, / ma con dar volta suo dolore scherma" (Purg. VI.148-51). In all of these representations, various patrie--Italy, Rome, Florence--are personified as women; women who weep, cry out, get sick, and implicitly sleep around ("ma di bordello!'). According to Natalia Costa-Zalessow, the textual precedent for Dante's personifications was probably biblical--the image of Jerusalem in Jeremiah's Lamentations (I, 1-9) "as a weeping widow, turned tributary, deserted by her lovers, reduced to captivity, deprived of all her beauty, afflicted and in misery, with no one to help her or even comfort her" (317). (22) With antecedents in the bible and the Aeneid, there is already a genealogy of personification in place that allows Dante to make the same preposterous leap from imitation to incarnation that Nievo later makes in his Confessioni.

Petrarch is perhaps the most obvious predecessor for Nievo's personification. In his collection of lyric poetry, Rerum vulgarium fragmenta, and his epistolary collection, Familiarum rerum libri, Petrarch transforms various patrie--Italy and Rome--into such figures as an old, lazy sleeping hag to be awakened with a pull of her hair, or a venerated queen, or a bride awaiting her bridegroom, or an unhappy mother with a beautiful but wounded body, lacerated by her own kin. For example, in Canzoniere LIII, Italy is figured as the slumbering slattern: "Italia, che suoi guai non par che senta: / vecchia, oziosa e lenta, / dormira sempre, e non fia chi la svegli? / Le man l'avess'io avolto entro' capegli!" In the Familiares, another patria, Rome, is at once (re)produced as patria, mother and queen:
 Comunis patrie et parentis publice
 salus in ambiguo vertitur; non est
 filis quem pie matris non tangit
 injuria [...] Quamobrem et si nichil
 aliud esset Roma quam nomen, esset
 tamen regine olim nomen urbis, ut
 arbitror, quadam cum veneratione
 tractandum; illius, inquam, urbis
 quam Deus omnipotens tot tantisque
 prerogative temporalis ac spiritualis
 insignibus adornasset, penes quam et
 vere fidei basim et Ecclesie
 fundamenta et supremum totius
 orbis imperium statuisset. [In grave
 pericolo e la salute della patria e
 della madre a tutti commune; e non v'e
 figlio che non senta l'ingiuria fatta
 a questa pia madre [...] E se anche
 Roma non fosse ormai altro che un
 nome, sarebbe sempre un nome di
 una regina, da nominare, io credo,
 con venerazione; di una regina, che
 Iddio onnipotente adorno di tante
 spirituali e temporali prerogative,
 stabilendo in essa il fondamento della
 vera fede e della Chiesa e l'impero
 di tutto il mondo.] (XI.16, 1-5)


Here, Rome is a common patria and mother to all. Her name alone evokes regality, and she is to be venerated as a queen. Furthermore, in the Canzoniere, Rome awaits her bridegroom: "Consolate lei dunque, ch'anchor bada, / e Roma che del suo sposo si lagna; / e per Iesu cingete omai la spada" (XXVII.12-14). Petrarch evokes a similar image in the Familiares: "Roma sponsum, sospitatorem suum vocat Italia et tuis pedibus tangi cupit [Roma invoca il suo sposo, l'Italia il suo liberatore e anela d'esser calcata dal tuo piede]" (X.1, 27). Yet the final example of Petrarch's personification of patria is also a striking recall to Nievo's Venice, whose cold heart no longer beats and whose lips have expelled their last breath. For Nievo, this Venice is a victim of parricide ("Parricidio, parricidio! Gridano ancora echi luttosi dei Palazzo Ducale?). For Petrarch, Italy is figured as a woman, a mother, and also a victim of parricide:
 Quanto autem cum dolore, nequid omnino
 tici subtraham, audivisse me
 putas recens vobis cum Aragonie
 rege fedus initum? Ergo ne ab Italis ad
 Italos evertendos barbarorum regum
 poscuntur auxilia? Unde infelix
 open speret Italia, si parum est
 quod certatim a filiis mater colenda discerpitur,
 nisi ad publisum insuper parricidium
 alienigene concitenur? [E
 per dirti tutto, con quanto
 dolore non ho io risaputo della vostra recente
 alleanza col re d'Aragona! si va dunque
 in cerca dell'aiuto di re barbari
 perche gli Italiani siano distrutti
 dagli Italiani? da chi l'infelice Italia
 sperera salvezza, se questa madre, che
 i figli dovrebbero venerare, non
 solo e da essi a gara straziata,
 ma contro di essa con pubblico parricidio
 si aizzano gli stranieri?] (XI.8, 28-29; emphasis mine)


It is clear from this example, as well as the others from Dante and Virgil, that a vocabulary of patria has long been in circulation. Furthermore, there is an established tradition of personifying patrie traceable through the Commedia, the Aeneid as well as the bible. It is within this tradition that Nievo operates; however, his attempts at personification--specifically via la Pisana--are complicated, and arguably thwarted, by the new vocabularies of nationalism evolving in the nineteenth century.

La Pisana as Patria

As one of the main, and certainly the most intriguing, characters in Nievo's Confessioni, la Pisana is the female figure who comes to embody patria. This figuration is made explicit at the execution of the Italian freedom fighter, Ettore Carafa, in Naples. As he walks to the platform where he will meet his end, Carafa looks at Carlino, Lucilio and finally, la Pisana. The narrator Carlino remarks, "Egli volle esser decapitato supino per guardar il filo della mannaia, e forse il cielo, e forse quell'unica donna ch'egli aveva amato infelicemente come la patria" (64849). That "unica donna" was, of course, la Pisana. Here she is equated with "la patria," as an equal object of Carafa's affection.

Similarly, Pisana has also been the foremost object of Carlino's affection. Since they were children, she has been the force that both rouses and conditions his thoughts and actions. Her influence is so pervasive that she can command Carlino to pull out a lock of her hair (119) and even dictate him to marry Aquilina (731-32). In other words, la Pisana haunts every moment and every movement of Carlino's life.

Strangely enough, in one of the few instances in which Carlino demonstrates his own agency, when he leaves Venice with Aglaura (soon to be revealed as his sister), he is obviously thinking about the repercussions of his actions on his relationship with Pisana:
 L'Aglaura mi restava sulle braccia, e
 dovea partire senza saper nulla
 della Pisana e di mio padre. Se il
 sentimento dell'onore, l'amore della
 patria e della liberta non fossero
 stati in me molto potenti, certo avrei
 fatto qualche grosso sproposito. (592-93)


He claims that la Pisana was not what prevented him from making an indecent proposal to Aglaura (" qualche grosso sproposito"), it was instead his sentiment of honor, and his love of patria and liberty ("l'amore della patria e della liberta"). Yet if Pisana is interchangeable with patria, as Carafa hints, then, she is in fact what stymies a romance between Carlino and Aglaura.

In her tirade against the French invasion of Italy, la Pisana clearly aligns herself with patria (Italy). By expressly linking herself to the aforementioned genealogy of personifications, her subjective voice reinforces her prior representations as object:
 Oh l'ha veduta ora! e son proprio
 contenta che quest'italiano bastardo
 abbia imparato a conoscere una vera
 italiana [...] Mi invitava ad abbandonare
 Sua Eccellenza Navagero ed a partire
 con lui quando la guarnigione
 francese si sarebbe ritirata da
 Venezia! 'Si!' gli risposi 'io verro con
 voi quando voi avrete proclamata in
 piazza la liberta della mia patria,
 quando guiderete i vostri commilitoni
 a sorprendere a vincere a sgominare
 coloro che si credettero
 d'impadronirsene senza colpo ferire! ...
 Allora saro con voi sposa amante serva,
 quello che vorrete!...' (528; emphasis
 mine)


In this passage, she declares herself "'una vera italiana," that is, one who "truly" belongs to the patria of Italy ("mia patria"). Not only does she belong to the patria, she indirectly becomes the patria insofar as her promise to be "sposa amante serva, quello che vorrete" recalls the personifications formulated by Dante and Petrarch. By opening herself to these varying representations of sposa, amante, and serva, la Pisana is fixed into a particular genealogy, which suggests her potential to incarnate patria.

The most poignant example of la Pisana as patria personified comes, like Dante's sickly Florence or Petrarch's lacerated Italy, as she is on the verge of death. The prolonged descriptions of Pisana on her deathbed echo the previous depiction of a dying pai-ria, Venice:
 E mi sfuggi d'infra le braccia, e non
 ebbi la forza di trattenerla; e piansi
 piansi com'ella veramente fosse morta,
 come quell'addio fosse stato la
 sua ultima parola. E per vagar che
 facesse il mio pensiero non vedeva
 altro intorno a se che buio e deserto.
 Quell'anima cosi grande e sublime
 risplendeva tanto, che fuggendo ella
 mi parevano larve tutti gli altri
 splendori di quaggiu, e ogni affetto
 perdeva forza e calore raffrontandosi
 al suo. (800-01)


Here, Carlino believes that la Pisana slips from his arms into the arms of death. He watches her just as he did Venice ("ti ammirai bella e maestosa fra le braccia della morte"). Furthermore, the thought of Pisana's death also sends Carlino into a desperate fury, lamenting to Lucilio as he wishes for his own death (790-93), just as the thought of a dying Venice elicited in him "una tempesta di dolore di disperazione di rimorso [che] mi sollevo le profonde passioni deli'anima!" (552). In her dying moments, Pisana's last concerns are for patria, chiding Carlino, "Se penserai ali'Aquilina cheio ti ho confidato, ai figliuoli che tu generasti e ai quali ti stringono sacri e inviolabili doveri, alla tua patria, alla mia patria, Carlo, per la quale ha sempre battuto questo mio piccolo cuore, per la quale dovunque mi porti la volonta di Dio io non cessero di pregare, e di sperare!" (798). Again, if Pisana is a figure for patria, then her last concerns can also be read as concerns for herself. Moreover, in her pre-mortem delirium, Pisana often calls out to Italia, "Il delirio deli'agonia fu per lei un sogno di visioni incantevoli [...] Molte volte nomino l'Italia, molte volte stringendomi la mano mormorava parole di coraggio e di fede" (802). Insofar as she is "una vera italiana" and personifies Italy in multiple ways (as sposa, amante, serva), la Pisana's call to Italy is also a last reminder to Carlino of herself without betraying the mask of humility (798).
 After her death, Carlino remains in a state of shock,

 Per molti giorni rimasi che non sapeva
 d'essere ne morto ne vivo: ma era
 sospensione di vita e non disperazione,
 per cui a poco a poco il pensiero
 si sciolse da quel letargo, e riebbi
 finalmente la conscienza di me e la
 memoria di quanto era stato, per riaver
 insieme la fortezza che mi abbisognava
 onde ubbidire agli ultimi desiderii
 della Pisana. (805; emphasis
 mine)


Interestingly, the return to his patria, Venice, shortly thereafter is described in very similar terms:
 Intanto io tomava a Venezia che quel
 torpore d'inerzia e di vergogna era
 al suo colmo. Non commercio, non
 ricchezza fondiaria, non arti, non
 scienze, non gloria, ne attivita di
 sorta alcuna: pareva morte, e certo era
 sospensione di vita. (810; emphasis mine)


It is as if Venice died with Pisana, insofar as it is void of commerce, art, glory, etc. Without Pisana, the city has become for Carlino an empty patria. (23)

Problems of indole, a.k.a. "carattere"

Alongside la Pisana's embodiment of patria, her character is persistently haunted by the notion of indole. Her thoughts and actions are seemingly always spurred by "un indole bizzarra e tumultuosa" (802). It is this indole that forms her, imbuing her with paradoxical qualities, "volubile, civettuola e crudele si mostrasse la Pisana fin dai tenerissimi anni, ella non manco mai d'una certa generosita" (45). Furthermore, her indole is not something that la Pisana can control, as Carlino describes, "Ma il merito non fu mio; come non fu colpa della Pisana se la caparbieta, l'arroganza, e l'ignara malizia infantile fomentarono la sua indole impetuosa, varia, irrequieta, e gli istinti procaci, veementi, infedeli" (55). The harm inflicted on others by la Pisana is also diminished with the excuse of indole: "Dopo il cattivo pronostico della Frumier cominciai a discerner meglio e a temere ch'egli non fosse la prima vittima dell'indole bollente e sfrenata della fanciulla" (365). In other words, the overwrought connection between indole and la Pisana throughout the Confessioni is a gesture that ultimately functions to constitute her. Moreover, if Pisana also embodies various patrie, indole must in some way work to determine patria as well.

Indeed, the notion of indole engages with and becomes valorized by nationalist rhetoric of the Risorgimento, that is, the aforementioned discourses of il carattere italiano and il carattere nazionale. Similar to carattere, indole entered into frequent use in the Italian language at the beginning of the nineteenth century, just as the discourse on il carattere italiano (recall de Stael and Leopardi) was taking shape. (24) In Nievo's Confessioni, there are moments when indole is expressly linked to the project of "making Italy." While discussing the government of the Comune of the castello di Fratta and the pending invasion of Napoleon, Carlino remarks,
 Non sempre a torto fummo tacciati noi
 Italiani di dissimulazione, d'adulazione,
 E d'eccesivo rispetto alle opinioni
 e alle forze individuali. Gli
 ordinamenti pubblici di cui accenno,
 fomentarono cotali piaghe dell'indole
 nazionale. (138; emphasis mine)


With the reference to "we Italians" ("noi Italiani"), the indole nazionale in this passage is couched in the rhetoric of Unification, insofar as the adjecrival valence ascribed to "nazionale" is that of a nation-state, Italy. Since the indole nazionale is tied to loftier nationalist discourses of making Italy, this indole might also be viewed as a translation of carattere nazionale.

Later in the Confessioni, the indole nazionale metamorphoses into an indole italiana. Ina vehement assault on the Napoleonic occupation of Italy, Carlino lashes out, "La superba indole italiana si rilevo subitamente quest'ultima proposta [acquiescence to the Repubblica Cisalpina]. Deboli, discordi, creduli, ciarlieri, inetti si; venali non mai!" (488). The listing of "Italian" qualities (deboli, discordi, creduli, cialieri, inetti) certainly echoes the nineteenth-century cataloging of the peculiarities of il carattere italiano. The second instance of an indole italiana comes again in reference to Napoleon and the Repubblica Cisalpina,
 Sara forse un pregio dell'indole
 italiana tralignato in difetto per le condizioni
 mutate dei tempi [...] Io pure vi diro
 che ci spero non poco, massime
 se non ci aduleremo a vicenda; e del
 resto mi appiglio pih volentieri
 alla boria permalosa deli'Italiano,
 che alla genuflessa obbedienza
 dello Slavo ubbriaco. (576)


Again, the indole is a national one, and again, it is couched in the rhetoric of il carattere nazionale ("la boria permalosa dell'Italiano").

If this is the case, the question becomes what relationship exists between the indole of la Pisana and this indole italiana. Or, to complicate the question, what is the relationship between patria as embodied by la Pisana, her personal indole, and the indole of nationalist discourse (a.k.a, il carattere italiano or il carattere nazionale)? In the end, the text does not, or better yet, cannot answer these questions. It can only hint at an answer that suggests the transformations and linkages of indole and patria cannot yet be articulated:
 Insomma le vi parranno le solite
 ragazzate; ma bisogna ch'io ve le racconti
 per dimostrare il continuo sospetto in
 che io vissi deli'animo della
 Pisana inverso di me, ed anche perche
 la sua indolefu cosi straordinaria
 che merita una storia apposita. (678; emphasis mine)


Hers is an indole straordinaria precisely because it holds in tension the old discourse of patria embodied in a female figure, the metamorphosis of patria into a nation-state, as well as the evolving discourses of nationalism and national character. The answer as to exactly how this constellation of discourses is articulated vis-a-vis the indole of la Pisana lies in that storia apposita, which Nievo incidentally does not provide. He does not provide it because he does not know himself, insofar as he was still grappling with the significations of these dangerously ambiguous and constantly changing terms--patria, indole, carattere, and nazione.

To that end, la Pisana comes to figure them all, in all of their sliding significations. In doing so, she becomes caught at the intersection and in the interstices of the discourses, and consequently gets (re)produced as a bizarre, perverse and superhuman figure, "una creatura sovrumana'" (787). For all of her strangeness, the text cannot do without la Pisana (and has to reproduce her in the form of baby Pisana almost immediately after her death) precisely because she is the uneasy creature who filters and manages these competing discourses. It is her perversity that makes this function palatable.

Conclusions

In its consideration of Nievo's Confessioni d'un Italiano, this essay recasts nineteenth-century rhetorical discourses in much more malleable terms as they relate to the formation of the Italian nation-state. Notions such as "nation" and "character"--whose meanings are often interpreted as hard and fast--are instead in their formative states. More importantly, they interact with an older discourse of patria, which has over time developed some peculiarities of its own. In particular, patria is commonly personified as female, making a preposterous leap from imitation to incarnation in myriad texts, dating as far back as Virgil's Aeneid or Jeremiah's Lamentations in the bible.

As evident in la Pisana of the Confessioni, who is the locus of this discursive articulation, patria and nation-state make strange bedfellows. Furthermore, they also produce bizarre, strange--perverse--characters. With these competing discourses in mind, various Ottocento texts (especially those with "perverse" female characters) merit a re-reading to determine if the same rhetorical confusion is at play. A few of the possibilities might include Tarchetti's Fosca, Boito's Senso, and Fogazzaro's Malombra. In addition to fictional texts, it would be particularly interesting to explore how the relationship between patria and nation-state gets figured in the anthropological literature of the fin-de-siecle. The extreme biologization of the body in these texts will certainly have some impact on the incarnation of patria.

Finally, with its rethinking of the vocabulary, and consequently, the rhetorical discourse involved in the Risorgimento nationalism of the nineteenth century, this essay implicitly questions the rhetoric employed in the contemporary scholarship on "making Italy." For example, what discourses contribute to such notions as Italian identity or national subjectivity? What discursive problematics are implicit in the idea of "constructing" or "imagining" a nation? What hereditary traces remain from the nineteenth century? Systematically questioning the very terms with which we work will help us as scholars to avoid Nievo's rhetorical dilemma so that we can eventually provide that "storia apposita" about "Italy" as both patria and nation-state.

Notes

* The author would like to thank Barbara Spackman and Mia Fuller for their insighfful comments and indefatigable encouragement.

(1) In the Confessioni, the first-person narrative voice of Carlino (in keeping with the structure of confession) is always-already doubled; there is the "I" in the narrative present and the "I" of the narrative past. Carlino's narrative is further complicated by a third "I," which is that of Nievo the author. This essay is cognizant of the implicit tripling of the "I" in the text, and recognizes that it is both Carlino and Nievo who "close" the Confessioni in the name of la Pisana.

(2) This and all quotations from the Confessioni in this essay are cited from: Ippolito Nievo, Confessioni d'un Italiano (Milano: Garzanti, 2001). The first edition of the Confessioni was published in 1867 six years after Nievo's untimely death in a shipwreck.

(3) Consistent with the contemporary rhetoric surrounding the "construction of Italian identity," this process is often referred to as a "project," such as the "project of making Italy." This terminology is predicated on sociologist Zygmunt Bauman's supposition that "identity has the ontological status of a project and a postulate [...] neither is there nor can there be any other identity but a postulated one. Identity is a criticai projection of what is demanded and/or sought upon what is...." See Zygmunt Bauman, "From Pilgrim to Tourist--or a Short History of Identity," Questions of Cultural Identity, eds. Stuart Hall and Paul du Gay (London: Sage, 1996) 18-36.

(4) Madame De Stael, Corinne, ou l'Italie (New York: D. Appleton et Cie LibrairesEditeurs, 1881). Madame de Stael's observations on "Italian character and customs" also echo Montaigne's observations of "Italians" in his travel journal and his essay, "De la vanite." Insofar as de Stael did not (initially) speak or read Italian, and her observations fall in line with those of Montaigne, the case could be made that "Italian character and customs" is an externally constructed entity with a literary genealogy that dates back to at least the sixteenth century.

(5) Giacomo Leopardi, Dircorso sopra lo slato presente dei costurai degl'Italiani (Milano: Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, 1998).

(6) Vincenzo Gioberti, Del primato morale e civile degli Italiani (Napoli: Battelli, 1848). For more on Italian character, see Silvana Patriarca, "National Identity or National Character? New Vocabularies and Old Paradigms," Making and Remaking Italy: The Cultivation of National Identity around the Risorgimento, eds. Albert Ascoli and Krystyna von Henneberg (Oxford: Berg, 2001) 299-319; and Stuart Joseph Woolf, A History of Italy 1700-1860: The Social Constraints of Political Change (London: Routledge, 1991).

(7) See Massimo D'Azeglio, I miei ricordi (Torino: Paravia, 1919)--originally published posthumously in 1867--and Angelo Mazzoleni, Il popolo italiano: studi politici (Milano: Dottor Francesco Vallardi, Tip-Editore, 1873).

(8) It should be noted that at the fin de siecle, there was a certain "biologization" of carattere, as exemplified in the works of Cesare Lombroso, Il delitto politico e le rivo--luzioni in rapporto al diritto, all'antropologia criminale ed alia scienza di governo (Torino: Fratelli Bocca, 1890); Alfredo Niceforo, I Germani. Storia di un 'idea e di una "razza" (Roma: Societa Editrici Periodici, 1917), and bis Il gergo nei normali, nei degenerati e nei criminali (Torino: Fratelli Bocca, 1897); and Giuseppe Sergi, Italia: le origini (Torino: Fratelli Bocca, 1919), and L'eugenica e la decadenza delle nazioni (Roma: Societa Italiana per il Progresso delle Scienze, 1916). Many of these scholars were particularty interested in the biological "character" of a nation, which in turn evolved into debates about race (stirpe or razza).

(9) See Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983); Mabel Berezin, Making the Fascist Self: The Political Culture of Interwar Italy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1997); David Forgacs, "Nostra patria: Revisions of the Risorgimento in the Cinema, 1925-52," Making and Remaking Italy: The Cultivation of National Identity around the Risorgimento, eds. Albert Ascoli and Krystyna von Henneberg (Oxford: Berg, 2001) 257-76; and Mario Isnenghi, ed., I luoghi della memoria: personaggi e date dell'Italia unita (Roma: Laterza, 1997).

(10) See Aurelio Lepre, Italia, addio? Unita e disunita dal 1860 a oggi (Milano: Mondadori, 1994); Gian Enrico Rusconi, Se cessiamo di essere una nazione: tra etnodemo--crazie regionali e cittadinanza europea (Bologna: il Mulino, 1993); and Piero Ottone, Il tramonto della nostra civilta (Milano: Mondadori, 1994). Other well-known publications on "Italian identity" that emerged in the 1990s include: Franco Cassano, Paeninsula: l'Italia da ritrovare (Roma: Laterza, 1998); Ernesto Galli della Loggia, L'ide-ntita italiana (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1998); Mario Isnenghi, L'Italia in piazza: i luoghi della vita pubblica dal 1848 ai giorni nostri (Milano: Mondadori, 1994); Umberto Levra, Fare gli Italiani: memoria e celebrazione del Risorgimento (Torino: Comitato di Torino dell'Istituto per la Storia del Risorgimento Italiano, 1992); Ilaria Porciani, "Stato e nazione: l'immagine debole dell'Italia," Fare gli Italiani: scuola e cultura nell'Italia contemporanea, 1, eds. Simonetta Soldani and Gabriele Turi (Bologna: il Mulino, 1993); Sergio Romano, Le ltalie parallele: perche I'ltalia non riesce a diventare un paese moderno (Milano: Longanesi, 1996); Aldo Schiavone, Italiani senza Italia: storia e identita (Torino: Einaudi, 1998); Giovanni Spadolini, ed., Nazione e nazionalita in ltalia: dall'alba del secolo ai nostri giorni (Roma: Laterza, 1994); and Bruno Tobia, L'altare della patria (Bologna: il Mulino, 1998).

(11) Giulio Bollati, L'ltaliano: il carattere nazionale come storia e come invenzione (Torino: Einaudi, 1996). The first version of Bollati's essay was published in 1972 by Einaudi in Storia d'Italia. It debuted in its current form in the same year, 1983, that Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities was published. The hypotheses of both Bollati and Anderson have together laid much of the groundwork for the current scholarship on Italian identities.

(12) In fact, BoUati's analysis in L'ltaliano examines in detail the textual production of Vincenzo Cuoco, Cario Cattaneo, Alessandro Manzoni, and various Romantic authors.

(13) The scholarship on la Pisana's impetuous nature includes: Bruno Falcetto, L'esemplarita imperfetta: le "Confessioni" di lppolito Nievo (Venezia: Marsilio, 1998); Dino Mantovani, li poeta soldato : Ippolito Nievo, 1831-1861 (Milano: Fratelli Treves, 1900); and Mario Marcazzan, Ippolito Nievo e "Le Confessioni" (Milano: Casa Edifice Giuseppe Principato, 1942). On la Pisana as a binary opposition to Clara, see Ugo Olivieri, Narrare avanti il reale : "Le Confessioni d'un Italiano" e la forma-romanzo nell'Ottocento (Milano: Franco Angeli, 1990).

(14) For example, Gabriele Grimaldi, ed., lppolito Nievo e il Mantovano: Atti dei Convegno nazionale (Venezia: Marsilio, 2001); "Ippolito Nievo nella cultura e nella storia dei territorio: dall'llluminismo al Romanticismo," Conference Proceedings, Universita degli Studi Udine 1-3 Dec. 1988; and Giovanni Maffei, lppolito Nievo e il romanzo di transizione (Napoli: Liguori, 1990).

(15) See Giuliana Sanguinetti Katz, The Uses of Mvth in lppolito Nievo (Ravenna: Longo Editore, 1981); Francesco Olivari, Ippolito Nievo lettere e confessioni: studio sulla complessita letteraria (Torino: Genesi, 1993); and Ezio Raimondi, "Un'Italia futura: lppolito Nievo, "Le Confessioni d'un italiano," Letteratura e identita nazionale (Milano: Mondadori, 1998).

(16) The few analyses ofpatria in Nievo's Confessioni fail to problematize the notion of patria itself, such as Maurizio Bertolotti, "Nievo, la religione e la patria," lppolito Nievo e il Mantovano: Atti dei Convegno nazionale, ed. Gabriele Grimaldi (Venezia: Marsilio, 2001), and S. Cassini, "Le patrie di Nievo: Venezia e l'Italia nel dibattito storiografico e nelle Confessioni," Ippolito Nievo e il Mantovano: Atti dei Convegno nazionale, ed. Gabriele Grimaldi (Venezia: Marsilio, 2001). Bertolotti considers patria as a physical geography, while the closest that Casini comes to problematizing the concept is to acknowledge that there is a shift from one patria (Venice or Mantova) to one that does not yet exist (i.e., that of nation-state).

(17) Raimondi argues that la Pisana is, for Nievo--vitality: "Nievo conclude rievocando i grandi momenti del suo passato, attraverso una sorta di aspettazione, di incontro, alla pienezza della vita: la Pisana" (146). It is interesting to note that in this passage Raimondi collapses the distinction between the narrator, Carlino, and Nievo, the author. He suggests that the moments of his past, "i momenti dei suo passato" evoked by la Pisana are not those of Carlino, but rather of Nievo himself. In any case, it is only after the "romanzo di formazione" has run its course that the now mature Nievo/Carlino can come to this realization about la Pisana. Maturity, according to Raimondi, also creates a "crisi di rapporto umani." Yet upon close reading of the passage that he reads as "crisis," what Nievo describes instead is the death of patria: "Della patria eran rimaste le membra vecchie, divelte, contaminate; lo spirito era fuggito, e chi sentiva in cuore la divozione delle cose sublimi ed eterne, cercava altri simulacri cui dedicare la speranza e la fede deli'anima" (142). It is only after the deaths of both patria and la Pisana--deaths that are presumably expedited by the maturation of Carlino/Nievo--that the text is emptied of life, of humanity. Raimondi writes: "Non ci sono piu personaggi straordinari e stravaganti: i personaggi sono diventati piu comuni, piu borghesi. Essi pero ci daranno una storia [...]" (146). Paradoxically, that storia of the rather dull bourgeoisie is, according to Raimondi, the epic of "una coscienza laica, che sente la religione dell'umanita" (147).

(18) On the artificiality of nationalist discourse, Patriarca once again refers to Bollati, "In his approach, Bollati anticipates [...] the emphasis on the artificial or constructed nature of nations which has become the centerpiece of innovative thinking about nationalism in the 1980s. While maintaining that national character has an objective basis in history, Bollati looks at it as an ideological construction [...] But noticing the role of intellectuals in the making of this self-representation and the importance of this debate in the period in which the nation-state was made, he focuses the bulk of the essay on the ideological construction of italianita in the nineteenth century" (301-02).

(19) Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Conquest (London: Routledge, 1995).

(20) Oxford Latin Dictionary, ed. P.G.W. Glare (Oxford: Clarendon, 1982) 1310.

(21) In fact, the first references to madrepatria come from such Risorgimento writers as Cattaneo and Gioberti. Grande Dizionario della Lingua Italiana, ed. Salvatore Battaglia (Torino: Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 1968) 399.

(22) Natalia Costa-Zalessow, "The Personification of Italy from Dante through the Trecento," Italica 68.3 (1991): 316--31.

(23) Because Venice is the fundamental landscape--the literal and figurative home--of the Confessioni, the text has to reproduce la Pisana after her death in the form of Carlino's daughter Pisana, because without her, patria ironically would have no home (Venice).

(24) Grande Dizionario della Lingua Italiana 835.

STEPHANIE HOM CARY

University of California, Berkeley
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Title Annotation:Space, Politics, and Identity from the Ottocento to Postmodernism
Author:Cary, Stephanie Hom
Publication:Italica
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2007
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