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In this article, I analyze the short story “Libertà” by Giovanni Verga and the film Bronte: Cronaca di un massacro che i libri di storia non hanno mai raccontato by Florestano Vancini. I also bring into my discussion Benedetto Radice’s essay Nino Bixio a Bronte to weave a critique of general Nino Bixio’s bloody repression of the Bronte peasants’ revolt. Contemporary scholars, like Leonardo Sciascia and Salvatore Lupo, criticized Verga’s story because of its omissions of historical facts, accusing him of not taking a political stance. In contrast, I contend that Verga’s omissions are due to his subaltern position, as a Sicilian writer working for northern readers and publishers. Then, I turn to Vancini’s film that foregrounds Garibaldi’s broken promise and the Risorgimento’s shortcomings. Vancini’s film addresses also the North and South’s cultural divide, and the ensuing deep incomprehension between the two political and geographical regions. This cultural divide has been the site of a race discourse, which is still active in Italy today, and, at the same time, the locus of an agrarian elite that was able to manipulate a weak central government for its own gains to the detriment of the rural masses.


Accepted version. Forum Italicum : A Journal of Italian Studies, Vol. 53, No. 1 (May 1, 2019): 53-68. DOI. © 2019 SAGE Publications. Used with permission.

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