Procession as a Literary Motif: The Intersection of Religious and National Symbolism in Italian Narrative (Nineteenth–Twentieth Centuries)

in Journal of Religion in Europe
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National imagery developed as a secular substitute for religion, and in modern society, there has been a ‘transfer’ of sacredness from religion to politics. This paper focuses on Italy, where, despite the legal separation of church and state, the ‘sacral’ national apparatus still owes a considerable debt to religion. After a short exposition of some of the main theories of civil religion in Italy, this work will analyze a corpus of Italian novels set during the Risorgimento, a period that functions in Italian culture as an atypical founding myth. It will show in particular how civil and religious symbols and rituals intersect in the literary representation of processions. Indeed, the procession is a recurring motif in Italian narrative and presents peculiar aesthetic features. The analysis of this literary motif will take advantage of socio-anthropological theories and will trace a distinction between ordered and disordered, or enthusiastic, processions.

Procession as a Literary Motif: The Intersection of Religious and National Symbolism in Italian Narrative (Nineteenth–Twentieth Centuries)

in Journal of Religion in Europe

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6

Robert. N. Bellah“Civil Religion in America,” Dædalus 96/1 (1967) 1–21. http://www.robertbellah.com/articles_5.htm (accessed 1 December 2015).

8

In the 1990sthe judicial inquiry Mani Pulite showed the corruption of the political class and brought on the fall of the so-called “first republic.” See e.g. Sondra Z. Koff & Stephen P. Koff Italy: From the First to the Second Republic (London: Routledge 2000).

12

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16

Bellah“The Five” 56.

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Massimo Leone“Processioni—Il percorso circolare che trasforma,” Golem Indispensabile1 August 2002. http://www.golemindispensabile.it; https://www.academia.edu/176893/2002_Processioni_-_Il_percorso_circolare_che_trasforma (accessed 2 November 2015).

25

Michel de Certeau“L’histoire, science et fiction,” Le genre humain 7–8 (1983) 151–152.

32

Andrea CamilleriLa bolla di componenda (Palermo: Sellerio1993); Carlo Alianello L’eredità della priora (Venosa: Osanna 2011b [1963]).

34

Giuseppe Tomasi di LampedusaIl Gattopardo (Milano: Feltrinelli1958).

35

Adrea CamilleriLo stivale di Garibaldi (Catania: Stilos2010).

43

 See e.g. Riane EislerThe Chalice and The Blade: Our History Our Future (San Francisco: Harper Collins1987).

45

 See in particular TadiniLe armi188–190.

55

Rossella Merlino“Sicilian Mafia, Patron Saints, and Religious Processions: The Consistent Face of an Ever-Changing Criminal Organization,” Californian Italian Studies 5/1 (2014) 109–129. Merlino also reflects on the prominent role of the mafiosi in the organization and performance of the ritual and on the value of this participation for the affirmation of the mafia’s power.

59

Erving GoffmanThe Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (New York: Doubleday1959) 18.

62

Roger CailloisLes jeux et les hommes: Le masque et le vertige (Paris: Gallimard1958).

66

D’Annunzio“The Idolaters” 131. Original: “E la falange armata di falci di ronche di scuri di zappe di schioppi si riunì sulla piazza dinanzi alla chiesa. E gli idolatri gridavano: San Pantaleone! […] Quando l’idolo portato su le spalle da quattro ercoli si mostrò alfine tra i pilastri del vestibolo e s’irraggiò alla luce aurorale un lungo anelito di passione corse il popolo aspettante un fremito come d’un vento di gioia volò sopra tutte le fronti. E la colonna si mosse. E la testa enorme del Santo oscillava in alto guardando innanzi a sé dalle sue orbite vuote.” D’Annunzio “Gli idolatri” 185.

73

Marin“Notes” 224.

74

Massimo Leone“Transcendence and Transgression in Religious Processions,” Signs and Society 2/2 (2014) 314–349 at 321. See also Kathleen Ashley & Pamela Sheingorn “Sainte Foy on the Loose Or The Possibilities of Procession” in: Kathleen Ashley & Wim Hüsken (eds.) Moving Subjects: Processional Performance in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (Amsterdam & Atlanta: Rodopi 2001) 53–67.

81

TurnerThe Ritual128.

82

René GirardLe bouc émissaire (Paris: Grasset1982).

83

 See Greimas & CourtèsSémiotique179–180.

84

 For the quote see Flanigan“The Moving” 39. For the notion of ‘effervescence’ see Émile Durkheim Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse: Le système totémique en Australie (Paris: puf 1968 [1912]).

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