American writers in Italy; 2
And I will tell you these unique Maliana. Present American writers in Italy. A series of programs especially produced in Rome for this radio station. Program to. The thank you to fulfill. Nothing your horse owns appointment as an American consul at Liverpool in 1853 gave him the opportunity to travel in Europe for the first time. He was 50 years old and three years previously he had published the scarlet letter even before he left America to take up his post in England.
He decided that on his way back home he would start off in Italy for a year. Although the country did not interest him as much as it did his wife who dabbled in art. Thus when horse on wound up his consular duty as he came to Italy where he spent 17 months from January to June of eighteen fifty eight. He lived in Rome from June to October in Florence and from October of eighteen fifty eight till May of 1859. Once again in Rome. Literary historians say this was at once the most serene and the most stimulating period in the life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. His first impression of Rome however was unfavorable. Rome was a most interesting place of residence but a very gloomy one. And I have suffered more in Rome from low spirits than almost anywhere else. These words Hold on wrote to Franklin p.s. i short time later
to editor James T fields he wrote even more vehemently I bitterly detest Rome and shall rejoice to bid it farewell for ever. And I fully acquiesce in all the mischief and ruin that has happened to it from Nero's conflagration downward. In fact I wish the very sight had been obliterated before I ever saw. Hawthorne's bitterness stemmed from his 15 year old daughter's near fatal illness with malaria at the time he wrote this letter. Other factors contributed to he didn't like the climate. He froze in
winter and in the summer he felt suffocated by the hot south wind. The sheer rock. Even his introduction to Rome was in auspicious. He arrived with his wife three children and a young governess. Late at night after a terrifying trip from Civitavecchia in a WildStorm during which his memory of the tales of Washington Irving about Italian bandits terrified him even more. Nevertheless Rome eventually fascinated him more perhaps than any other city except his native Salem. He seems to have had the same ambiguous feelings for Rome that he had for Salem itself. Also one became aware of this when he left Rome to move temporarily to Florence in May of 1850 8 and recorded it in his diary. I have a strange affection for Rome. It is very singular the sad embrace with which Rome takes possession of the soul the intellect finds
a home there more than in any other spot in the world. And when is the heart to stay with it in spite of a great many things strewn about to discuss Tous les summer he spend in Tuscany between two Roman Winters was a most pleasant interval. The climate was temperate and he enjoyed his brisk and lively relations with the people he found there. And he wrote about it. They inspired me a sort of alacrity and influence of ideas. There was probably no other place in the world where life is more delicious for its own simple sake. It gives me the chance to ask to Asian modify myself a little after that and congenial the life of the consulate. Then before going back to my own hard and dusty New England during the months of August and September the Hawthorns rented a villa on the Hill of bellows quieted down the night before he left. He stood for some time in the tower of the villa looking at the sky and the lights of the city in the distance.
I listen to the sweet bells of Florence. Loath to come down into the lower world. I knew that I would never again look heavenward from an old tower top in such a soft calm evening as this. When he returned home he put a towel on his own house in Salem to use as a study. By then however only five years of life were left to him. We must however examine the cultural roots of Hawthorne's ambivalent attitude and of his complex encounter with your hope.
In this we may be helped by one of Italy's most respected author orators on Anglo-Saxon matters matter your prats American writers in Italy at least during the 19th century says Mariel brats were faced with a dilemma from which they could not escape. A general observation is necessary in order to explain and excuse the impressions of Italy gathered by these 19th century Americans which may simply irritate an Italian living today. The Americans began to know us during a period in which our sun was obscured or just beginning to appear from behind the clouds. Furthermore a Puritan tradition weighed heavily on their judgments. And whatever advantages that tradition may confer on its heirs is certainly one of them is not the capacity to understand foreigners. The usual American visitor during the 19th century. If you were a Protestant I could hardly look at St. Peter's without inveighing against the Whore of Babylon. If you were a Catholic on the other hand
he thought of us as fortunate if only because we had the honor to be hosts to the pope. He was horrified by the idea that we should want to exist as a nation. For the first we were perverse because we were decadent for the second because we wanted to see a united Italy Protestant or Catholic. It came to the same thing this idea of Mattie or pouts serves at least in part to help us understand Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper and the other writers who came before us on such as Henry Green No and nothing on your private Willis Henry t talk a man and see a door as fate it may even help to explain the attitudes of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Herman Melville and perhaps we should consider these two writers for a moment before continuing with hearthstone. It.
Was the. Harriet Beecher Stowe who came to Italy a number of times from 1853 onward. After she had already written and published Uncle Tom's Cabin recorded some of her Talon impressions in a novel called Agnes of Sorrento. These were largely enthusiastic Romas a world Romas in astonishment. Papal Rome as in an chant meant old as she is she is like Nino don't glow. The young fall in love with her. Venice is all romance from beginning to end and never ceases to be strange and picturesque southern Italy is a glory a rose a nightingale all in short that one ever dreams. But Mrs. Stowe spoke with a different tone of the institutions she encountered. So I know it she wrote was a mere dreamland a visionary
region. A fairy land. But the religious atmosphere which one breathed there was particularly heavy. The. They are as a hundred thousand. In the group we are in the time of seven let alone are the only Italian who pressed for a profound modification of the church's conduct in vain. Equally in vain are the attempts of the mysterious Knight. I will steal suddenly persecuted by the board of Jeff family and related to the pope to come to the aid of the poor but beautiful Agnes of whose noble origins the
knight if not the reader is unaware. Someone I don't know will be burned at the stake. And with him hopes for a renewal of the Italian church. Mrs. Stowe doesn't hide her sympathies for the Florentine reformer and in fact draws a parallel between him and the Puritans of New England. Actually calling someone at all and his followers the only Puritans of Italy she writes that what the Puritans wrought out with severest earnestness in their reasonings. These Italian counterparts embodied in poetry sculpture and painting the works of the Florentine painters are compared to the sermons of Jonathan Edwards which might not have flattered either side but the rest. The structure of the novel follows that of the typical romantic fable of the mysterious Knight and the girl whose noble origin is unrecognized. This lends a mystical atmosphere to the landscape of soaring though which is compared to
Arcadia to the Garden of the his parodies to the Isles of the blessid and to paradise. Thank. God. God. Herman Melville's impressions of the trip to Italy from October 1856 to May 1857 had only recently been deciphered and published by Raymond Weaver under the title Journal of the straits for the most part they are brief Ban notes which Melville wrote in telegraphic style. That's obvious red and yellow bellowing bellows flare of flame when into a crater frozen licorice but Filippo. Such a profusion and intricacy of grotto
Grove gorge Rome fell flat on me. Oh press of leaflet and roam Oh so Herman Melville gave a famous lecture titled statuary in Rome in which he compared the Laocoon grope to a locomotive as symbols of two civilizations the antique and the modern. In a certain sense the theory of Maddy or perhaps on the dilemma of Americans in Italy applies to enough an you'll hold on as well. He too was torn between the alternatives of admiration and disapproval Butin aroused in him both enchantment and Puritan diffidence. This construction of contradictory impressions I see owned for him the proportions of a gothic cathedral Parthenon dwelled upon this
contradiction in a frequently quoted section of the model for. When we have once known and left her where she lies like a long decaying corpse retaining a trace of the noble shape it was but with accumulated dust and the fungus growth overspreading all its more admirable features left her in utter weariness. No doubt of the narrow crooked intricate streets so uncomfortable and paved with little squares of lava that to tread over them is a penitential pilgrimage. So indescribably ugly. Moreover so cold so alley like dew which the sun never falls and where the chill wind forces its deadly breath into our lungs. Left
are tired of the sight of those. And then seven the story of yellow washed hobbles or call them palaces were all that is dreary and domestic life seems magnified and multiplied and weary of climbing the staircases which ascend from a ground floor of cook shops cobbler stalls stables and regiments of cavalry to a middle region of princes cardinals and ambassadors and an upper tier of artists just beneath the unattainable sky left are worn out with shivering at the cheerless and smoky fireside by day and feasting with our own substance the ravenous little populace of a Roman bed at night. Left her sick in the heart of Italian trickery which is up rooted whatever faith in man's integrity had endured till now. And sick in stomach of sour bread sour wine rancid butter and bad
cookery. Needlessly bestowed on evil meats left are disgusted with the pretense of holiness and the reality of nastiness equally omnipresent laughter half lifeless from the languid atmosphere the vital principle of which has been used up long ago or corrupted by myriads of slaughters left to crush down in spirit with the desolation of her ruin and the hopelessness of her future. Left her in short hating her with all our might and adding our individual curse to the infinite anathema which our old crimes have unmistakably brought down. When we left Rome in such mood as this we were astonished by the discovery by and by. That our heartstrings have mysteriously attached themselves to the Eternal City. And the drawing us there the word as if it were more familiar more intimately
our home. Than even the spot where we were born. It was in this atmosphere that the four central characters of the model for one published in 1860 moved loved and above all suffered the form were three Americans. Marian Hilda and Kenyon all of whom were in at least some sense artists and an Italian who was neither an artist nor intellectual nor cultured named Don Othello. He was presented as a half wild
primitive creature. He has a head like the foreman of pranks Italy's a copy of which is conveniently found in the capital in museum. It is even implied more or less as a joke but rather less than more that Donna Tello has Fornes ears. The three Americans are of course full of admiration for such a simple creature one so instinctively endowed with a healthy and moral principles one so close to nature but oddly the character in whom the American consciousness of Italy is expressed is not Miriam nor Hilda nor even Kenyon But Donna tella himself with all his innocence and spontaneity and candor. The others are too imbued with taste with culture and with art not to be emotionally linked to the old world. As the old world for instance Miriam whom Donna tella loves is oppressed by her past. She is intimidated and present he noted by history which rises before her in
accordance with the literary predilections of the period like episodes of a gothic novel One Day Somewhat predictably. The four friends go to visit the catacombs. There they become interested in the legend of a monk who is said still to live there. Through him they try to make contact with the souls of those buried here long ago. Then Miriam gets lost and when she reappears a short time later she is to put it mildly. Seriously disturbed. Woman. Miriam came forward. But not with an eagerness and tremulous joy of a fearful girl just rescued from a labyrinth of
mystery. She looked pale as well she might. And held her torch with a nervous grasp. The tremor of which was seen in the irregular twinkling of the flame. Dearest dearest Miriam when you've been straying from us blesses a Providence which has rescued you out of that miserable darkness hushed him Hilda. Are you quite sure that it was Heaven's guidance which brought me back. If so it was by an old messenger as you will confess see. There he stands startled at Miriam's words and manner. Hilda gazed into the dusk in this weather she pointed and there beheld a figure standing just in the dark the limit of obscurity at the threshold of the small illuminated chapel. Can you discern them at the same instant and drew nearer with his touch. Although the guide attempted to dissuade him I think that was beyond the consecrated precincts of the chapel. The operation would have power to tear him limb from limb and it struck the sculptor However when he afterwards recurred to the circumstances that the God
manifested no such apprehension on his own account as he professed on behalf of others for he kept pace with Kenyon as a letter approached the figure though endeavoring to restrain him. In feet away they both drew near enough to get as good a view of the specter as the smoky light of that torches struggling with a massive gloom and good supply. This ghostly figure was not in fact a ghost but a man out of Miriam's mysterious past. A person who played an equally mysterious part in it as we learned
at the close of the book and who has come to persecute her Donna Tello grows increasingly jealous of him. The four characters wander around Rome as this Inn Express tension grows between them even while they visit churches and art galleries. Meanwhile the shadow of the mysterious figure from Miriam's past appears and reappears between the foreign Apprentice Italy's and the Dying Gladiator between the Apollo a Belvedere and the Laocoon grope. Above all. Between the two pictures of Guido Rainey whose bad reach HMG and sent Michael overcoming Satan reveal disturbing likenesses to the man in the catacombs. Finally one evening after a moonlight stroll through the ruins of Rome which is one of the finest descriptions of the ruined city ever written. The four find themselves at the Tarpeian rock from which the ancient Romans once threw traitors. Here the mysterious specter reappears Donatello sees a tacit consent in Miriam's
eyes and pushes the unwelcome stranger off the rock. From this moment Donna Tello has lost his innocence. He tries to cleanse himself by returning to his home in the country a place modeled after Hawthorn's Florentine Villa Donna Dello desperately tries to bind together the sundered ties between nature and innocence. But he is not the only one affected. The others have been torn also by his act of violence. The somewhat emphatically angelic Hilda explains why while there is a single guilty person in the universe each innocent one must feel his innocence tortured by that guilt. Your deed Miriam has darkened the whole sky. Every crime destroys more Eden's than our own. The unfortunate murder seems to affect even the animals who at one time felt a sort of mythical reverence for Donna Adele and Donna Delo is aware of it. They know it. They shunned me. All nature shrinks from me in the
shadows at me. I live in the midst of a curse that has me round with a circle of fire no innocent thing can come near me. Canyon makes a somewhat solemn reply. We all of us as we grow older lose somewhat of our proximity to nature. It is the price we pay for experience. For Donna Tello the prize was particularly high. He is nature or he was until sin and violence came along. Innocence therefore has its inconveniences for Hawthorn at least it dampens other qualities such as intelligence and discernment which are
also human. The process of Donna Telos evolution at his home in the country is described as an enrichment of his humanity. The paradoxical point and it is deliberately paradoxical is that this intellectual maturity and enrichment in human terms can be reached only through an infraction of God's law. In one sense Hawthorne is presenting a new version of the parable of earthly paradise and the fall also in the historical context in which he writes. He is saying something which has to do with the time in which he lived. He implies that a relationship with the old world of culture of cathedrals of art cannot be looked upon as a symbol of the cation. It is for the wise writer and for the sensitive tourist something of a clash. His story collides with the innocence of the American in Italy setting in motion a process of rapid maturation. Nothing you'll Hawthorne's
account of his experience of the confrontation between Europe and America between Italy and America is in this sense one of the most mature and understanding which has been written. This has concluded the second in our series of programs on American authors and their relationship to Italy. Programs especially produced in Rome for this radio station. The second programme was titled Nathaniel Hawthorne's. The music in this program included excerpts from the works of don't it's empty vanity. They don't come out a little. And a better deal us.
- American writers in Italy
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Identifier: 69-34-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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- APA: American writers in Italy; 2. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-z892dg64