Corrado Alvaro Criticism - Essay

Peter Michael Riccio (essay date 1938)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Corrado Alvaro," in Italian Authors of Today, 1938. Reprint by Books for Libraries Press, 1970, pp. 167-69.

[In the following essay, Riccio praises Alvaro's works for their depictions of the human spirit.]

Gente in Aspromonte by Corrado Alvaro had the distinction recently of carrying off the coveted prize of 50,000 lire offered by La Stampa of Turin for the best novel of the year published in Italy. That this book of Corrado Alvaro is worthy of such recognition is not difficult to understand if we pause a moment to consider the work of this young writer who hails from Calabria and spends most of his time in Rome trying to eke out a living by the use of his pen.

Alvaro first caught the public eye by a series of short stories that contained interesting cross-sections of the primitive and rustic life of his native Calabria. In L'Amata a/la Finestra, an earlier work, and in the prize volume Gente in Aspromonte, Alvaro offers a collection of Calabrian scenes colored with the sharp tints of an intense realism and of a deep melancholy which make the reading of them a delightful treat, especially if one compares these writings of Alvaro with those of the vast majority of his literary contemporaries. Furthermore, a perusal of Alvaro's work reveals a literary technique that is devoid of the superfluously decorative flourishes that have been the curse of so many Italian writers. The sharp, barren and rugged coast of Calabria and the hard, primitive and passionate life of the people are depicted in a style that enhances the beauty and charm of the literary pictures. And with what depth and effect does the pen of Alvaro dip into the very heart and...

(The entire section is 716 words.)

Jerome D. Ross (essay date 1948)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Nightmare Life in Death under Police State," in New York Herald Tribune Weekly Book Review, August 29, 1948, p. 3.

[In the following review, Ross faults Man Is Strong for its vague characters and lack of suspense, but commends Alvaro's treatment of modern man's alienation.]

Nightly, in the dream state, the individual compounds his fears, guilts, and insecurity into installments of a shadowy autobiography. Corrado Alvaro makes use of this fact in his story of dictatorship's degradation of the individual. The modern police state thrives by instilling a thousand fears, ten thousand guilts, and the author has selected, as a device by which to present modern...

(The entire section is 1001 words.)

Charles J. Rolo (essay date 1948)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Fear Hath a Hundred Eyes," in The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 182, No. 4, October, 1948, pp. 106-7.

[Rolo was an Egyptian-born American investment broker, editor, and critic who wrote several studies on Aldous Huxley. In the following excerpt, he praises Alvaro's depiction of the fascist state in Man Is Strong for its "anguished climate of nightmare and baleful unreason."]

Joseph Conrad's indictment of the tsarist autocracy—"the ruthless destruction of innumerable minds… of dignity, of truth, of rectitude, of all that is faithful in human nature"—sums up the ravages of modern fascism… Those ravages—that destruction of minds and human ties and the...

(The entire section is 628 words.)

Helene Cantarella (essay date 1962)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Cornered in Calabria," in The New York Times Book Review, June 17, 1962, p. 5.

[In the following review, Cantarella praises Revolt in Aspromonte for its compassionate portrayal of the struggles of Italy's peasants.]

There are two Italys. There is the prosperous, elegant, buoyant Italy of "the Italian miracle" that one hears about so much today in press and films. Then there is the other—the painful, bitter, eternal Italy of the peasants, particularly of the Southern peasants, as different from the first as day is from night. No Italian writer has more succinctly expressed the elemental anguish and frustrations of that second Italy than Corrado Alvaro,...

(The entire section is 577 words.)

Alice Ellen Mayhew (essay date 1962)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Travail of an Indigent Shepherd," in The Saturday Review, New York, Vol. XLV, No. 26, June 30, 1962, p. 25.

[In the following review, Mayhew hails Revolt in Aspromonte for its unsparing, passionate depiction of southern Italian peasant life.]

This short book is a minor classic, written with great economy and understated ferocity. It is a product of the Italian South, which, like our own, has an extraordinarily rich literary heritage. An unusual number of talented writers (three of the four Italian Nobel Literature Prize-winners) have dramatized its social and economic predicament and have vividly portrayed the barren terrain with its decaying manor,...

(The entire section is 711 words.)

Anthony R. Terrizzi (essay date 1973)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Another Look at Corrado Alvaro's L'uomo nel labirinto," in Forum Italicum, Vol. VII, No. 1, March, 1973, pp. 23-9.

[In the following excerpt, Terrizzi offers a reconsideration of L'Uomo nel labirinto in the context ofAlvaro's subsequent work.]

Only after a decade from the death of Corrado Alvaro in 1956 did a first monographic study of his works appear, followed by a number of others in quick succession. Until then the recognition that the author had received from literary critics, although constant and generous, consisted mostly of reviews, commemorations and essays, dealing either with his multifaceted personality, or just one book, or merely...

(The entire section is 2500 words.)

Sergio Pacifici (essay date 1979)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The 'Southern' Novel," in The Modern Italian Novel: From Pea to Moravia, Southern Illinois University Press, 1979, pp. 47-78.

[Pacifici is an American educator, translator, and critic specializing in Italian language and literature. In the following excerpt, he discusses Alvaro's adherence to the tenets of the "verismo" school.]

The bulk of Alvaro's literary production, which ranges all the way from autobiography and poetry to essays and fiction, is often rooted in his native Calabria, particularly his own paese, the village where he grew up and which left such an impression on his sensibility. His more mature work, on the other hand, reveals a shift of...

(The entire section is 2894 words.)

Anthony R. Terrizzi (essay date 1981)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Notes on Alvaro's Gente in Aspromonte," in Romance Notes, Vol. XXII, No. 2, Winter, 1981, pp. 236-41.

[In the following essay, Terrizzi examines the complex interweaving of realistic and mythic themes in Gente in Aspromonte.]

The publication of Gente in Aspromonte in 1930 brought Corrado Alvaro acclaim as a young writer of national significance. The short novel was well-received by the critics and suggested to them a direct derivation from Giovanni Verga's "verismo" and particularly from I Malavoglia. Alvaro had been writing for over a decade, and many critics had already decided that his inspiration was primarily two-fold: the world of...

(The entire section is 2078 words.)