Buried Caesars, and Other Secrets of Italian American Writing

By Robert Viscusi

Subjects: American Studies
Series: SUNY series in Italian/American Culture
Paperback : 9780791466346, 294 pages, June 2006
Hardcover : 9780791466339, 294 pages, January 2006

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Table of contents


Introduction: Secrets of Italian American Writing

1. English as a Dialect of Italian

2. De vulgari eloquentia: Ordinary Eloquence in Italian America

3. Il caso della casa: Stories of Houses in Italian America

4. Immigrant Ambitions and American Literature

5. The Text in the Dust: Writing Italy across America

6. The Semiology of Semen: Questioning the Father

7. Circles of the Cyclopes: Concentric History

8. A Literature Considering Itself: The Allegory of Italian America

9. The Italian American Sign

10. The Imperial Sopranos


Examines the forces that have shaped Italian American writing, from the novels of John Fante to the musings of Tony Soprano.


Winner of the 2006 Pietro Di Donato and John Fante Literary Award from The Grand Lodge of the Sons of Italy, New York State

Robert Viscusi takes a comprehensive look at Italian American writing by exploring the connections between language and culture in Italian American experience and major literary texts. Italian immigrants, Viscusi argues, considered even their English to be a dialect of Italian, and therefore attempted to create an American English fully reflective of their historical, social, and cultural positions. This approach allows us to see Italian American purposes as profoundly situated in relation not only to American language and culture but also to Italian nationalist narratives in literary history as well as linguistic practice. Viscusi also situates Italian American writing within the "eccentric design" of American literature, and uses a multidisciplinary approach to read not only novels and poems, but also houses, maps, processions, videos, and other artifacts as texts.

Robert Viscusi is Professor of English and Executive Officer at The Ethyle R. Wolfe Institute for the Humanities, Brooklyn College, The City University of New York. He is the author of many books, including Max Beerbohm, or, The Dandy Dante: Rereading with Mirrors and Astoria: A Novel, winner of a 1996 American Book Award.