Jovine, Francesco 1902-1950
Italian novelist, short story writer, and dramatist.
Jovine is considered an important neorealist writer in the southern Italian narrative tradition. His primary concerns are the personal and historical changes that have affected rural life in Italy since national unification in the late nineteenth century and that have accompanied the rise of fascism in the ensuing era. Staunchly leftist and antifascist, his novels are each set in his native region of Molise, an area in south-central Italy which Jovine uses to demonstrate the sometimes violent social changes that occurred over the course of his lifetime. Of his three novels, the last, Le terre del Sacramento (1950; The Estate in Abruzzi), is generally regarded as his masterpiece and represents the culmination of Jovine's autobiographical and historical exploration of Italian life while revealing his skeptical but optimistic attitude toward the possibility of social and moral reform in postwar Italy.
Jovine was born in Guardialfiera, Campobasso, in the Molise region of Italy in 1902. Relatively impoverished since birth, he left this provincial area in 1925 and settled in Rome. After obtaining a degree in philosophy he began his career as a teacher, and published his first novel, Un oumo provvisorio, in 1934. The work was generally well-received, but not until the appearance of his Signora ava (Seeds in the Wind) in 1942 did Jovine earn recognition throughout. Italy. After many years as part of the antifascist resistance in Italy during World War II, Jovine contributed to leftist periodicals in the postwar years and officially became a member of the Communist party in 1948. His best-known novel, Le terre del Sacramento, was published shortly after his death in 1950, and earned Jovine the Viareggio Prize.
The title of Jovine's first novel, Un oumo provvisorio, means "A Temporary Man" in English. Set in the 1920s this philosophical and autobiographical work details the uncertainty and emotional isolation of a young man struggling to escape from his provincial roots. In Signora ava Jovine evokes the nascent era of Italian unification in his native region of Molise. Written during the period of fascist hegemony, Signora ava presents Jovine's highly critical attitude toward the results of the nineteenth-century nationalist movement in his home country. The title of Le terre del Sacramento, Jovine's third and final novel, refers to an area of land, again in Molise, seized from the Roman Catholic Church in 1867 and thus regarded with mistrust by the local peasantry. Coaxed by wealthy landowners to work the fields on the estate, the peasants in Jovine's novel encounter resistance from fascist authorities who succeed in killing Luca Marano, their leader and the work's protagonist. Despite Marano's death, Le terre del Sacramento is thought to reflect Jovine's hope for reform in rural Italy and belief that the nation might realize a period of spiritual rebirth after the defeat of fascism. In addition to these works, Jovine also produced several volumes of short fiction which bear thematic similarities to his novels in their depiction of social injustice and provincial life in Italy.
Critics have generally accepted that Jovine reached the height of his literary powers only in the last ten years of his lifetime, and thus suggest that his finest work appeared only in the few years prior to his death at the age of forty-eight. His posthumously published novel Le terre del Sacramento, in particular, has been frequently cited as his greatest fictional achievement. As for stylistic developments in Jovine's writing, many scholars have observed that while his sentiments derive largely from political sources and events, Jovine's works are sustained throughout by the lyrical quality of his prose and by his unique blend of realism, social criticism, autobiography, and ideology.
Il burattinaio metafisico (drama) 1928
Berluè (short stories) 1929
Un uomo provvisorio (novel) 1934
Ragazza sola (short stories) 1936-37
Ladro di galline (short stories) 1940
Signora ava [Seeds in the Wind] (novel) 1942
L'Impero in provincia (short stories) 1945
Il pastore sepolto (short stories) 1945
Giorni che rinasceranno (short stories and drama) 1948
Tutti I miei peccati (short stories) 1948
Le terre del Sacramento [The Estate in Abruzzi] (novel) 1950
Racconti (short stories) 1960
Viaggio nel Molise (short stories) 1967
(The entire section is 68 words.)
SOURCE: "The Novels of Franscesco Jovine," in Italian Studies: An Annual Review, Vol. XXIII, 1968, pp. 138-55.
[In the following essay, Moloney argues against the common critical analysis of Jovine's novels as strictly political works, contending instead that they are works of psychological, sociological, and emotional complexity.]
Of all the so-called 'neo-realists' who flourished in the 1940's, Francesco Jovine (1902-50) is one of the most interesting and, in spite of his comparatively small output, one of the most complex. His first novel, Un uomo provvisorio (1934), is a psychological study, and in his last, Le Terre del Sacramento (1950), he succeeds in welding into a unified whole psychological analysis, description of his native province, and vigorous social protest. If he has not yet received the attention he deserves, it is because his complexity has led to his being interpreted in a variety of ways by critics who seem determined to pin on him descriptive labels which are manifestly inadequate.
The element of social criticism in his writings and his membership of the communist party inevitably made him the darling of the Marxists, and both they and the anticommunists have in common an inability to see anything other than the political aspect of his work. G. Rimanelli, writing under the pseudonym of A. G. Solari, for example, states:
(The entire section is 7430 words.)
SOURCE: "The 'End' of Life: Un uomo provvisorio" in Franscesco Jovine: The Quest for Realism, Peter Lang, 1986, pp. 35-52.
[In the following essay, Procaccini interprets Un uomo provvisorio as a Bildungsroman, in which the central characters attempt to tackle existential dilemmas related to twentieth-century issues of disillusionment and alienation.]
Francesco Jovine's first published novel, Un uomo provvisorio (Guanda: Modena, 1934), relates the dramatic story of a young doctor, Giulio Sabò, who comes from his native town of Restano in Molise to Rome to specialize in neurology, and who eventually returns to his home town to live. The novel is divided into two parts: Giulio's life in Rome, and his return to Restano. While in Rome, he lives a life of indifference and boredom, but upon his return to Restano because of his father's illness, he succeeds in overcoming his apathy and suicidal thoughts by discovering that his actions may be meaningful to others as well as to himself. This discovery is made by Giulio partly through introspection, but mainly through his involvement in saving the life of a child in Restano.
At the core of this novel lies not so much a speculative problem, but rather an existential problem of searching for and questioning certain lost values. Un uomo provvisorio is a Bildungsroman, a work in which Jovine attempts to...
(The entire section is 7440 words.)
SOURCE: "The 'End' of Literature: Le terre del Sacramento," in Franscesco Jovine: The Quest for Realism, Peter Lang, 1986, pp. 159-94.
[In the following essay, Provaccini contends that Le terre del Sacramento, Jovine's last novel, successfully integrates the themes he had dealt with separately in his other works, noting the work's maturity and refinement.]
The novel, Le terre del Sacramento, was to be Jovine's last work. Before he could make any last minute revisions, he was stricken by a fatal heart attack, thus leaving the novel to be proofread by his wife, Dina Bertoni Jovine, and his friend Carlo Muscetta. The work was published by Einaudi in 1950, and in that same year it would be the winner of the Viareggio Award.1
Set in the period 1921-22, the novel takes its title from the name of the ecclesiastical estates expropriated by the newly formed government of united Italy in 1860. These lands were later transferred to the private ownership of the Cannavale family in 1867. When the novel begins Enrico Cannavale, the owner of the estate, is faced not only with historical forces that threaten to ruin him, but also with the problem of what to do with the "contadini" who persist in making use of the lands for their meager existence. The story revolves around the relationship of the land to these two protagonists who struggle to maintain their share of it....
(The entire section is 12789 words.)
SOURCE: "A Reading of Franscesco Jovine's: Un Uomo Provvisorio," in Italian Quarterly, Vol. XXIX, No. 114, Fall, 1988, pp. 55-8.
[In the following essay, Centuori analyzes Jovine 's first novel, Un uomo provvisorio, concluding that the book served as a vehicle of self-discovery and moral development for Jovine,]
Giulio Sabò is the central character of Jovine's first novel, Un uomo provvisorio. He is described as a handsome young man of elegant bearing, well mannered, sensitive and intelligent. "La sua presenza," comments the author, always elicited "quell'istintivo ossequio che suscitano le nature superiori." Sabò's existence unfolds with monotonous ease not unlike "un fiume grigiastro che scorreva nel suo alveo senza piene e senza magre ed anche senza rumore." However, beneath this unruffled surface lies a personality in disarray.
Giulio is an introspective character in constant dialogue with himself: "Faceva fluire i suoi pensieri senza freno, dialogava con se stesso secondo una sua antica abitudine che era divenuta il fondo della sua natura." In his social interaction, he is unable to establish with others "un rapporto veramente intrinseco." Communication, Sabò maintains, is impossible since "le parole non sono che un mezzo estrinseco per avere l'illusione d'intendersi." He confesses to a state of intellectual impotence and psychological aridity; "io per me non penso...
(The entire section is 1628 words.)