Pietro di Donato Criticism - Essay

Philip Deasy (review date 19 August 1960)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Deasy, Philip. “To the Nadir.” Commonweal 72 (19 August 1960): 429-30.

[In the following review, Deasy dismisses Three Circles of Light as “a cliché-ridden, overdone piece of hokum.”]

Twenty-one years ago Pietro Di Donato wrote a best-seller, largely autobiographical, about a West Hoboken Italian bricklayer and his family, entitled Christ in Concrete. In Three Circles of Light, he returns to the same scene and the same family, but to a time period about ten years earlier than that of the first novel, to the years, that is, immediately before and immediately after World War I. Paolino di Alba, the youngster protagonist of the...

(The entire section is 589 words.)

Philip Burnham (review date 10 February 1961)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Burnham, Philip. “American Saint.” Commonweal 73 (10 February 1961): 512-14.

[In the following review, Burnham sketches the character of Mother Cabrini presented in Immigrant Saint, concluding that “the book is bravely done.”]

Saint Francesca Xavier Cabrini is the saint most immediate to contemporary Americans. She died in Chicago only in 1917, was beatified in 1938, and canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1946. In [Immigrant Saint,] a fairly brief and rather strained chronicle, Pietro DiDonato gives the rush of day-to-day movement and interest and accomplishment which Mother Cabrini so recently created here in our own headlong society.


(The entire section is 1020 words.)

Thomas P. McDonnell (review date 13 July 1962)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: McDonnell, Thomas P. “Postcard Sanctity.” Commonweal 76 (13 July 1962): 406-07.

[In the following review, McDonnell finds the focus of The Penitent misplaced, preferring instead to consider the implications of Alessandro Sereneli's murder of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.]

The problem of sanctity is so special a bafflement to the modern writer, to say nothing of our general estrangement from its seemingly ineffable milieu, that the attempt to record it, if made at all, usually ends in disaster. At least, that is to say, in literary disaster. It is much like the movies you see which attempt to portray lives of genius in the creative arts. The result is...

(The entire section is 521 words.)

Michael D. Esposito (essay date spring-summer 1980)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Esposito, Michael D. “Pietro di Donato Reevaluated.” Italian Americana 6, no. 2 (spring-summer 1980): 179-92.

[In the following essay, Esposito discusses di Donato's works within the context of Italian American life and experience, reassessing the significance of his works to immigrant Americana.]

Although Pietro di Donato's Christ in Concrete (1939) was one of the earliest novels treating the life of America's Italian immigrants, both it and the rest of di Donato's fiction have attracted little critical attention by scholars and critics whose interest lies outside the sphere of ethnic and immigrant literature. Before discussing his neglect, I feel...

(The entire section is 4627 words.)

Michael D. Esposito (essay date summer 1980)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Esposito, Michael D. “The Travail of Pietro di Donato.” MELUS 7, no. 2 (summer 1980): 47-60.

[In the following essay, Esposito discusses the success of Christ in Concrete and how di Donato merits recognition as a pioneer among Italian American writers whose works stirred the American public to fully recognize the condition of the country's Italian immigrants.]

As a twenty-six-year-old bricklayer living on relief in Northport, Long Island, in 1936, Pietro di Donato wrote a short story based on his father's death in a construction accident twelve years earlier. Entitled “Christ in Concrete,” the story appeared in Esquire in March 1937, and...

(The entire section is 6117 words.)

Nicholas Coles (essay date autumn-winter 1987)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Coles, Nicholas. “Mantraps: Men at Work in Pietro di Donato's Christ in Concrete and Thomas Bell's Out of This Furnace.MELUS 14, nos. 3-4 (autumn-winter 1987): 23-32.

[In the following essay, Coles discusses the representation of immigrant life in all its contradictions in Pietro di Donato's Christ in Concrete and Thomas Bell's Out of This Furnace.]

Whether we want it there or not, for most of us work squats at the center of life. It consumes our time and energy and to a large extent determines our experience in every other activity of living. When we are out of work, the lack of it and the search for it takes its place as the...

(The entire section is 4552 words.)

Dorothee von Huene-Greenberg and Pietro di Donato (interview date autumn-winter 1987)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Von Huene-Greenberg, Dorothee. “A MELUS Interview: Pietro di Donato.” MELUS 14, nos. 3-4 (autumn-winter 1987): 33-52.

[In the following interview, di Donato discusses with Huene-Greenberg his major works and his influences.]

Pietro Di Donato was twelve years old when his Italian immigrant father was killed in a construction accident on Good Friday in 1923. As the oldest boy, Di Donato took his father's trowel and began supporting his seven brothers and sisters. Not until he became unemployed and went on relief did he have the leisure to study, read, and write about his experiences. The resulting Christ in Concrete, published in 1939, became an...

(The entire section is 9350 words.)

Franco Mulas (essay date 1991)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Mulas, Franco. “The Ethnic Language of Pietro Di Donato's Christ in Concrete.” In From the Margin: Writings in Italian Americana, edited by Anthony Julian Tamburri, Paolo A. Giordano, and Fred L. Gardaphé, pp. 307-15. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1991.

[In the following essay, Mulas evaluates both the linguistic achievements and limitations of di Donato's prose style in Christ in Concrete, highlighting the use of Italian expressions in American literature.]

Pietro Di Donato's Christ in Concrete (1939) stands as one of the best and most powerful accounts of the Italian immigrant experience in the New World. It is the...

(The entire section is 4650 words.)

Petra Fachinger (review date summer 1995)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Fachinger, Petra. Review of Christ in Concrete, by Pietro di Donato. Canadian Literature, no. 145 (summer 1995): 150-52.

[In the following assessment, Fachinger contrasts the themes, style, and narrative techniques of Christ in Concrete with those of Caterina Edwards' The Lion's Mouth.]

Although both Christ in Concrete and The Lion's Mouth describe the experience of Italian immigration to the New World and draw on autobiographical material, they could not be more different in subject matter, style and narrative technique. Published in the same year as John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, Christ in Concrete was hailed...

(The entire section is 1060 words.)

Matthew Diomede (essay date 1995)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Diomede, Matthew. “The Love of Annunziata” and “Christ in Concrete.” In Pietro DiDonato, the Master Builder, pp. 47-55; 71-88. London: Associated University Presses, 1995.

[In the following essays, Diomede explores the relationship between religious and cultural “mysteries” in The Love of Annunziata, and examines the socioeconomic or political protest dimension of Christ in Concrete.]

In chapter 2 in this study, the author commented that Pietro DiDonato told him that no matter what we do, it takes in mystery, containing elements of love and sacredness that have the power to overcome death (DIOM, 105). The Love of...

(The entire section is 13575 words.)