“CERTE VOLTE, IO MI VERGOGNO DI ESSERE SICILIANO”: SPUNTI PER UNA (RI)LETTURA POSTCOLONIALE DE IL BENEFATTORE DI LUIGI CAPUANA
Luigi Capuana’s short novel Il benefattore (1901) can be considered as a semi-forgotten work by the prolific Sicilian writer, who for over half a century has been canonized as a ‘minor’ verista by critics, but is now being re-discovered from new methodological perspectives and new areas of his creative production. This essay posits itself within a new and constantly increasing line of Capuana criticism, and it does so by applying postcolonial theory, which is a comparatively recent methodology within Italian Studies and an original approach within Capuana Studies. Through the prism of postcolonial theory, the essay analyses Il benefattore, which can still be regarded as a comparatively ‘new’ text from a critical perspective, despite having been published in 1901. After contextualising Il benefattore, the article develops in two sections. The first section is methodological and works as a theoretical framework, in which the impact on, and the benefits of, a postcolonial theory-driven methodology in Capuana Studies are discussed. The second section, through close-reading of the text, sheds light on key thematic and narratological patterns which can be interpreted through concepts belonging to postcolonial theory, such as the notion of ‘in-betweenness’ and that of ‘mimicry/antimimicry’. The analysis of Il benefattore shows how Capuana’s characterisation, in his fictional works representing Sicily, is constructed not only through representing gender and/or class dynamics (as maintained by historical-philological criticism of (Neo)Marxist leanings) but more specifically through postcolonial dynamics that reflect the hybrid ethno-geo-socio-cultural location of his texts.
(c) API and University of the Witwatersrand