Elaborare il lutto bellico. Gli opuscoli commemorativi di caduti nel Salento (1915-1923)


This paper examines a source of particular interest for the understanding of the phenomenology of private mourning, progressively developed in Italy (but not in the other warring countries) during and after the First World War: the brochures for the commemoration of the young officers fallen during the conflict. The author, starting from the survey on books dedicated to military natives of the province of Salento (Southern Italy), finds similarities in structure and content in comparison with the contemporary and corresponding national publications. Similar as to editorial setting (anthology of the manuscripts of the fallen soldier, of interventions of condolence, of testimonies, etc.), but different between them for ideological inspiration, each pamphlet gives the narration of a particular model of war heroism: democratic, peculiar to Risorgimento, Catholic, monarchist, family and, later, fascist. Analyzing the content of this type of publications, therefore, means bringing to light these socio-cultural microcosms, identifiable even in the outskirts of Southern Italy. They contribute, as a whole, to the complex reworking of the national identity on renewed bases compared to the tradition of the Italian Risorgimento. According to this interpretative key, the purposes (and recipients, of course) of the brochures move beyond the purely family and friendship sphere of mourning to take a much more public – if not political – physiognomy thus contributing to the spread and consolidation of the national-patriotic canon, during the extremely dramatic years between the wars and the immediate post-war period.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22808949a4n2p459

Keywords: Hero worship; Mourning; National identity; Family memory; Collective memory; Democratic interventionism; Nationalist interventionism; Obituary brochure; Military volunteering

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