Giovanni Verga Short Fiction Analysis
Giovanni Verga’s first experiments with the short-story form in the 1870’s were quite conventional in theme and offered no originality of form or technique. At best, critics have discerned in this work the struggles of a writer in a period of crisis seeking a new basis for his art. The publication of the group of stories about Sicily, under the title Under the Shadow of Etna, demonstrated that he had found that new basis. For these stories he developed a new literary language and a new style: Description and rhetoric were reduced to the barest minimum possible, and characters and action were portrayed in terse, nervous prose which was more impressionistic notation than precise narrative, and which often reproduced, as direct or indirect discourse, the speech patterns of the characters themselves.
The most renowned of these stories, “Cavalleria rusticana” (“Rustic Chivalry”), exemplifies this new style fully. The opening paragraph informs the reader that the story’s hero, Turiddu Macca, having completed his military service, is trying unsuccessfully to attract the attention of his former beloved, Lola, by peacocklike antics in the public square. When he learns that she has betrothed herself to another during his absence, Turiddu swears that he will destroy his rival, and Verga makes this known to the reader by switching in mid-sentence to implied indirect discourse, in which Turiddu’s own...
(The entire section is 1650 words.)
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