The paper examines the fiction by Giovanni/“John” Ruffini (1807-1881), a republican patriot and exile that later became the successful author of seven novels, all written in English but composed in Paris and set in various European countries – Italy, France, Switzerland and England. Following the publication of his first two books, Lorenzo Benoni (1853) and Doctor Antonio (1855), in the middle years of the nineteenth century Ruffini ranked among the most acclaimed Victorian novelists, known and praised by Dickens, Gladstone and Carlyle among others. However, after having enjoyed a period of popularity also in Italy, his name almost completely disappeared from both the English and the Italian literary canons. This was probably due to the supposed “spurious” nature of his works, constantly hovering between different cultures, different languages and different genres. Only recently has Ruffini’s production begun to regain critical attention, thanks to the works of scholars such as Allan Conrad Christensen and Martino Marazzi. The paper aims to contribute to this process of critical reassessment, shedding light to some neglected cultural facets that inform Ruffini’s fiction well beyond the recurring motiv of “love and patriotism”. Although Attilio Momigliano famously defined Doctor Antonio as “the symbol of a by-gone age”, Ruffini’s novels, especially non-political narratives such as The Paragreens (1856), A Quiet Nook in the Jura (1867) and Carlino and Other Stories (1872), seem to transcend local and national patriotism in favour of a broader European vision, thus anticipating several issues discussed in the modern political agenda. By focusing on the lives and interchange of characters of diverse nationalities, including Germans, Polish and Russians, Ruffini’s stories dramatize the very sense of uprootedness and alienation from nationally defined cultural roots that remain familiar in our own times. In particular, my paper will discuss the narrative techniques employed by Ruffini in order to manage the cultural diversity in an impartial way and without hurting his readers’ feelings. Literally organized around the principle of dialogue and cultural alterity, Ruffini’s novels fashion one of the first examples of a truly “European” literature, hence articulating discourses and concerns germane to modern readers.

“Cosmopolitanism and Cultural Confrontation in Giovanni Ruffini’s ‘minor’ Fiction: at the Dawn of Literary Europeanism”

ANTINUCCI, Raffaella
2014

Abstract

The paper examines the fiction by Giovanni/“John” Ruffini (1807-1881), a republican patriot and exile that later became the successful author of seven novels, all written in English but composed in Paris and set in various European countries – Italy, France, Switzerland and England. Following the publication of his first two books, Lorenzo Benoni (1853) and Doctor Antonio (1855), in the middle years of the nineteenth century Ruffini ranked among the most acclaimed Victorian novelists, known and praised by Dickens, Gladstone and Carlyle among others. However, after having enjoyed a period of popularity also in Italy, his name almost completely disappeared from both the English and the Italian literary canons. This was probably due to the supposed “spurious” nature of his works, constantly hovering between different cultures, different languages and different genres. Only recently has Ruffini’s production begun to regain critical attention, thanks to the works of scholars such as Allan Conrad Christensen and Martino Marazzi. The paper aims to contribute to this process of critical reassessment, shedding light to some neglected cultural facets that inform Ruffini’s fiction well beyond the recurring motiv of “love and patriotism”. Although Attilio Momigliano famously defined Doctor Antonio as “the symbol of a by-gone age”, Ruffini’s novels, especially non-political narratives such as The Paragreens (1856), A Quiet Nook in the Jura (1867) and Carlino and Other Stories (1872), seem to transcend local and national patriotism in favour of a broader European vision, thus anticipating several issues discussed in the modern political agenda. By focusing on the lives and interchange of characters of diverse nationalities, including Germans, Polish and Russians, Ruffini’s stories dramatize the very sense of uprootedness and alienation from nationally defined cultural roots that remain familiar in our own times. In particular, my paper will discuss the narrative techniques employed by Ruffini in order to manage the cultural diversity in an impartial way and without hurting his readers’ feelings. Literally organized around the principle of dialogue and cultural alterity, Ruffini’s novels fashion one of the first examples of a truly “European” literature, hence articulating discourses and concerns germane to modern readers.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11367/29479
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