Tuesday 04th of August 2020

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“A Little Embroidery of His Own”: Giuseppe Baretti as Cultural Mediator in Eighteenth-Century Europe

Paolo Bugliani, Università di Pisa pdf_icon_30x30

 

paolo.bugliani(at)fileli.unipi.it

 

Abstract: Although a well-travelled research path, Anglo-Italian studies can, in our contemporary critical environment, be significantly enhanced through a close dialogue with cultural studies vis-à-vis the transnational status of its mediating figures. My aim here is to examine Giuseppe Baretti, one of the most notable of the early modern “literary migrants” between Italy and England, in this light. This paper tackles two relevant examples of Baretti’s work: first, his attempt, after his return to northern Italy in the 1760s following an extended period living in England and traveling through the Iberian Peninsula and France, to establish a literary magazine, La frusta letteraria (1764-5), according to English models; the second, his polemic against cultural stereotyping in his Account of the Manners and Customs of Italy (1768). Through direct (and sometimes harsh) criticism of several “perverse” cultural go-betweens – Samuel Sharp, Voltaire, and Carlo Denina, for example – Baretti sought to correct a widespread and strongly biased image of Italy, employing the advantage of his unique knowledge of both English and Italian cultures against both countries’ detractors.

 

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