Niccolò Amelii (University G. D’Annunzio of Chieti-Pescara)


Niccolò Amelii is a PhD candidate in “Languages, Literatures and Cultures in Contact” at the University ‘G. D’Annunzio’ of Chieti-Pescara, now visiting scholar at the CRIX-Etudes Romanes of the University of Paris Nanterre. His research project focuses on narrative representations of the metropolis in twentieth-century Italian literature. He also deals with non-fiction, modernism and neomodernism, relations between writing and image. He participated in numerous conferences and seminars. His essays have appeared in Diacritica, Scenari, Arabeschi, Fillide, SigMa, Kepos, Enthymema, Studi pasoliniani, Critica letteraria and in several collective volumes. He is a member of ALUS (Association for Literary Urban Studies) and Fringe Urban Narratives.

Workers and Builders: Tre operai by Bernari and Quartiere Vittoria by Dèttore Between Modernist Realism and Expressionism

The anti-romance sentiment prevailing in Italy in the first twenty years of the twentieth century begins to fade at the beginning of the thirties, when a new generation of writers –Vittorini, Pavese, Moravia, Pratolini, Bilenchi–appears on the horizon, questioning the “novel to do”, rediscovering local models remained until then in the shadows –Verga, Tozzi, Svevo– and finding others outside the national borders –Proust,Anglo-American literature. The diegetic structures of romance begin to open up to the surrounding society, incorporating in themselves the icons and the images of incipient modernity. At the base of this proposal there is the attempt to reread Tre operai by Bernani (1934) and Quartiere Vittoria by Dèttore (1936), two novels in which are represented the processes of urbanization and industrialization,in which two of the fundamental categories of that historical period –proletariat and building contractors– rise to the rank of main characters and in which are highlighted some of the critical issues and problems detected even a few years earlier from the most sensible urban sociology– massification, growth of suburbs, phenomena of identity indifferentiation. The exegetical commitment aimed at examining these works, both at a thematic and formal level, allows, in the wake of the works of Van den Bergh (2015) and Biagi (2022), to resemantize and question a category with vague and nuanced contours such as that of”neorealism”, making it interact with more recent critical-theoretical concepts, such as that of “modernistrealism” (Castellana), here examined together with the expressionist component that permeates the two novels through the decisive influence of the “Neue Sachlichkeit”, with the aim of removing certain limiting critical mortgages and reopening an interpretative discourse aimed at deepening the interactions between realistic models and modernist modules in the Italian literature of the thirties.