Experience of Exile Described by Italian Writers: From Cicero Through Dante and Machiavelli Down to Carlo Levi

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This book identifies the historical and social context of the experience of exile and the degree to which the condition of being exiled influenced literary production of those forced to undergo it.
A fascinating study examining how the legal governmental policy of “exile” can act as a catalyst in the transformation of the person ‘exiled’ from martyr to hero and how the exile process becomes the social –historical instrument that inspires the creative writing of great Italian masterpieces in poetry, rhetoric and philosophy.


“ The multifaceted nature of exile and the polysemic values it assumes in Italian culture have enabled Marsh to paint for us a brightly-colored picture which poses new and intriguing questions for discussion about a diachronically central theme…his long-range view will make the book an unavoidable text for studies on this topic.”
-Prof. Fabrizio Ricciardelli,
Kent State University, Florence Program

“I write as a classicist, and as a classicist I welcome David Marsh’s book for several reasons:
-though a highly accomplished Italianist, Marsh also brings an extensive background in Classics to the job and writes from long experience in reading the Latin authors – Cicero, Ovid, and the younger Seneca – whom he includes in the study;
-Marsh also writes in a very accessible way that will well serve the sort of reader for whom it seems the book is intended: not the professional scholar, but the general reader interested in the culture of Italy and how that culture has intersected with the always-fascinating subject of exile;
The study will bring some fascinating texts to the attention of a new audience: most readers who will be attracted by the subject will probably have heard of Cicero and Ovid and (maybe) Seneca, and will probably even know that Ovid (at least) was exiled. But they are very unlikely to have read any of Caesar’s fascinating correspondence, or Ovid’s poetry from exile (neglected even by specialists until fairly recently), or Seneca’s consolation to his mother;
-moreover, Marsh not only brings these texts center state, but he uses them with a very deft touch, telling the reader enough about them to allow them to make sense but not overburdening the exposition with fussy details. In short, this book will serve both its readers and the men who are its subject well:
I look forward to seeing it between covers.”
-Prof. Robert Kaster,
Princeton University

“This book by Professor David Marsh gives an appropriate and insightful overview of the exile in Italian authors from Cicero to Carlo Levi, a topic that is often neglected and deserves to be better known. Very often, those authors who have been marginalized by exile produced their best work during that time of suffering. For example, Dante wrote his Divine Comedy while in exile. Or the humanist, Filelfo, whose letters to his family are an incredible expression of love and devotion. In addition to these two examples, the rich diversity of the chosen authors would yield productive discussions and would be useful both for scholars and students.

The introduction also provides a useful historical background, from the classic antiquity to the 20th century, giving the reader a beneficial overview to the topic of exile. Professor Marsh also shows an extraordinary knowledge of the material presented, and remarkable experience with important texts of the various periods of human culture. The reactions of thinkers and the important issues of the various periods are divided among the sections of the book. This work is an interdisciplinary exploration that focuses on the religious, political, and even scientific (e.g. Galileo) motivations for and consequences of exile. The publication of this book would certainly be a great contribution to the literature on exile.”
-Pietro Frassica,
Professor of Italian, Princeton University

Table of Contents

Exiled Writers of Italy
Aims of the Present Study
Chapter 1: Antiquity
The Jews: Exile in the Old Testament
Exile in the Prophetic Books
Jeremiah and Lamentations
The Greeks and Romans
Chapter 2: Cicero
Forms of Roman Exile
Cicero’s Letters from Exile
Cicero’s Return
Cicero’s Posthumous Reputation
Chapter 3: Ovid
The Emperor’s Wrath
Echoes of Ovid’s Exile
Chapter 4: Seneca
Seneca’s Posthumous Reputation
Chapter 5: Dante
Exile in Dante’s Minor Works
Exile in the Comedy
Chapter 6: Leon Battista Alberti
On the Family
Chapter 7: Francesco Filelfo
The Strozzi Exiles
Filelfo’s Exile
Filelfo and Classical Consolation
Chapter 8: Machiavelli
Exile in Machiavelli’s Writings
Chapter 9: Ugo Foscolo
Foscolo the Exile
Foscolo’s Posthumous Reputation
Chapter 10: Carlo Levi
Exile under Fascism
Levi and the Supernatural
Exile and Italian History

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