Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy - Luzzi, Joseph - Yale University Press

Literary Studies

Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy

  • Joseph Luzzi
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Winner of the 2009 Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies sponsored by the Modern Language Association.

Chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2009 by Choice Magazine

In this groundbreaking study, unique in English, Joseph Luzzi considers Italian Romanticism and the modern myth of Italy. Ranging across European and international borders, he examines the metaphors, facts, and fictions about Italy that were born in the Romantic age and continue to haunt the global literary imagination.


The themes of the book include the emergence of Italy as the “world’s university” (Goethe) and “mother of arts” (Byron), the influence of Dante’s Commedia on Romantic autobiography, and the representation of the Italian body politic as a woman at home and abroad. Luzzi also provides a critical reevaluation of the three crowns of Italian Romantic letters—Ugo Foscolo, Giacomo Leopardi, and Alessandro Manzoni—profoundly influential writers largely undiscovered in Anglo-American criticism. Reaching out to academic and general readers alike, the book offers fresh insights into the influence of Italian literary, cultural, and intellectual traditions on the foreign imagination from the Romantic age to the present.

Joseph Luzzi is associate professor of Italian and director of the Italian Studies program, Bard College. His articles have appeared in Comparative Literature, Dante Studies, Italica, Modern Language Notes, Modern Language Quarterly, and Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century. He lives in Tivoli, NY.