Rimanelli, Giose 1925–
Rimanelli, Giose 1925–
PERSONAL: Born November 28, 1925, in Casacalenda, Italy; immigrated to North America, 1960; naturalized U.S. citizen; son of Vincenzo (a surveyor) and Concettina Rimanelli; married Liliana Chiurazzi, August 6, 1956 (divorced, 1962); married Bettina Quatran (divorced, February, 1976); married Sheryl Lynn Postman (a professor of Spanish and Italian), June 11, 1988; children: (first marriage) Marco, Michele; (second marriage) David. Ethnicity: "Italian." Education: Attended Roman Catholic seminary, Ascoli Satriano, Italy.
ADDRESSES: Home—Lowell, MA; and Pompano Beach, FL. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer. Teacher of Italian and comparative literature at Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, Yale University, University of British Columbia, University of California, Los Angeles, beginning 1968; State University of New York at Albany, Albany, professor of Italian and comparative literature until 1990; retired, 1990. Earlier positions included work as a correspondent for Radio Televisione Italiana (Italian radio network) and as editor of Il cittadino canadese, an Italian-language newspaper published in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Military service: Forcibly enlisted in Legione Tagliamento; imprisoned spring, 1945; escaped during a prisoner transfer.
MEMBER: American Association for Italian Studies (honorary president).
AWARDS, HONORS: American Book Award, 1994, for Benedetta in Guysterland: A Liquid Novel; awarded Universitá degli Studi del Molise.
Tiro al piccione (novel), Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1953, published with introduction by Sebastiano Martelli, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1991, translation by Ben Johnson, Jr., published as The Day of the Lion: A Novel, Random House (New York, NY), 1954.
Peccato originale (novel), Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1954,translation by Ben Johnson, Jr., published as Original Sin, Random House (New York, NY), 1957.
Suor Letizia (screenplay), Columbia Pictures, 1956.
(With Giuseppe Berto) Viaggio nel Sud (television miniseries), Radio Televisione Italiana, 1957.
Biglietto di terza (novel), Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1958, published with introduction by the author, Soleil Publications (Lewiston, NY), 1998.
Una posizione sociale (novel), Vallecchi (Florence, Italy), 1959, published as La stanza grande, Avagliano Editore (Cava dei Tirrein, Italy), 1996.
Il mestiere del furbo: Panorama della narrativa italiana contemporanea (collected columns; originally published under pseudonym A.G. Solari), Sugar (Milan, Italy), 1959.
Tè in casa Picasso (stage script), Il Dramma (Turin, Italy), 1961.
Il corno francese (stage script), Il Dramma (Turin, Italy), 1962.
Lares (stage script), Il Dramma (Turin, Italy), 1962.
(Editor, with Roberto Ruberto) Modern Canadian Stories, Ryerson (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1966.
(Editor and contributor of poem) Roberto Ruta (critical essays), translated by Ben Johnson, Jr., De Luca (Rome, Italy), 1967.
Carmina blabla: Versi e disegni, 1959–1967 (poetry), Rebellato (Padua, Italy), 1967.
Monaci d'amore medievali (poetry), illustrated by Amerigo Tot, Trevi Editore (Rome, Italy), 1967.
Tragica America (essays), Immordino (Genoa, Italy), 1968.
La terra dei bravi (prose), La Tribuna (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1972.
(With Paul Pimsleur) Poems Make Pictures; Pictures Make Poems (poems for children), illustrated by Ronny Solbert, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 1972.
Graffiti (prose), edited by Titina Sardelli, Marinelli (Isernia, Italy), 1977.
Molise Molise (prose), Marinelli (Isernia, Italy), 1979.
Antologia delle opere narrative di Giose Rimanelli, edited by Giambattista Faralli, Marinelli (Isernia, Italy), 1982.
Capsule di letteratura italiana: Dalle origini ai nostri giorni (critical essays), State University of New York at Albany (Albany, NY), 1982.
From Syntax to Literature (critical essays), State University of New York at Albany (Albany, NY), 1985.
Il tempo nascosto fra le righe (short stories), Marinelli (Isernia, Italy), 1986.
Foundation and Development of the Italian Renaissance: Notes and Texts, two volumes, State University of New York at Albany (Albany, NY), 1986.
Arcano (1970–1988) (poetry), Edisud (Salerno, Italy), 1989.
(With Benito Faraone) Moliseide: Ballate e canzoni in dialetto molisano, translated by Luigi Bonaffini, music by Benito Faraone, Enne (Campobasso, Italy), 1990, Peter Lang (New York, NY), 1992, translation published as Moliseide and Other Poems, Legas (Brooklyn, NY), 1998.
Benedetta in Guysterland: A Liquid Novel, preface by Fred L. Gardaphé, Guernica Editions (New York, NY), 1993.
Alien cantica: An American Journey (1964–1993) (poetry), edited and translated by Luigi Bonaffini, Peter Lang (New York, NY), 1995.
Dirige me Domine, Deus meus: Il defunto e noi, dal pianto rituale al lamento jazz (essays; bilingual edition), Enne (Campobasso, Italy), 1996.
I Rascenije (poetry), Mobydick (Faenza, Italy), 1996.
(With Luigi Fortanella) From G. to G.: 101 Sonnets (poetry), Peter Lang (New York, NY), 1996.
Detroit Blues, Soleil Publications (Lewiston, NY), 1996.
Accademia (novel), Guernica Editions, (New York, NY), 1997.
Sonetti per Joseph (poetry), Caramanica Editore (Marina di Minturno, Italy), 1999.
(With Achille Serrao) Viamerica/Eyes (poetry), preface by Rebecca West, Guernica Editions (Buffalo, NY), 1999.
(With M. Castelli and T.S. Di Tella) In nome del padre: Quaderni sull'Emigrazione (prose), edited by Norberto Lombardi, Cosmo Iannone Editore (Isernia, Italy), 1999.
Jazzymood (poetry), edited and translated by Luigi Bonaffini, Gradiva Publications (Stony Brook, NY), 2000.
Familia: Memoria dell'Emigrazione (prose), Cosmo Iannone Editore (Isernia, Italy), 2000.
La Rosa e una Rosa, Edizioni Enne (Campobasso, Italy), 2000.
(With Enrico Cestari) Discorso con l'altro: La guerra civile e l'Italia del dopoguerra (prose), Mursia Editore (Milan, Italy), 2000.
The Lof Cabin (prose), 2002.
Gioco d'amore/Amore del gioco: Poesia provenzale e moderna in dialetto molisano e lingua (poetry), Cosmo Iannone Editore (Isernia, Italy), 2002.
Il viaggio—Un paese chiamato Molise (novel), Cosmo Iannone Editore (Isernia, Italy), 2003.
Versi persi per S. (poetry), Edizione ENNE (Ferrazzano, Italy), 2004.
Terzine estorte dal silenzio (poetry), Edizioni ENNE (Ferrazzano, Italy), 2004.
Fratianni e la follia—Cervantes—Defoe—Campana (critical essays), Palladino Editore (Campobasso, Italy), 2004.
Sexy Saffo (poetry), Edizioni ENNE (Ferrazzano, Italy), 2005.
Other writings include Bèllate da Lascèrte. Translator into Italian of works originally published in English, including material by Jack Kerouac; translator of selected Italian works into English. Contributor to many books, including conclusion to Con gli occhi chiussi, Garland Publishing (New York, NY), 1990; and introductions, Vocabolario ragionato del dialetto di Casacalenda, by Antonio Vincelli, Edizioni Enne (Campobasso, Italy), 1991; Counterpoints/Contrappunti, a prose work by Giovanni Cecchetti, Peter Lang (New York, NY), 1997; Hot Dog, a novel by Luigi Fontanella, Soleil Publications (Lewiston, NY), 1999; and Il lunario dell'Osteria, a memoir by Enzo Nocera, Edizioni Enne, 1999. Columnist for the weekly Lo Specchio, under pseudonym A.G. Solari, beginning 1958. Contributor to periodicals, including Rivista di studi italiani, Forum Italicum, World Literature Today, and Nuovo oggi Molise. Translator of Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," Library of Congress, 1972.
Rimanelli's manuscripts, including many unpublished works, were donated to the Fischer Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto in 1976. They were transferred to the State Archive in Campobasso, Molise Province, Italy, in 1998.
ADAPTATIONS: Tiro al piccione was made into a motion picture in 1961, directed by Giuliano Montaldo. "The Progress of Realism in the Italian novel," is a sound recording of a lecture that Rimanelli gave in 1961 at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
SIDELIGHTS: Giose Rimanelli, a self-proclaimed "misfit," incorporates his nomadic background into his writing, making each of his novels unique in style and content. One of the uniting themes throughout many of his works is the constant struggle of his characters between wanting to belong to a community and at the same time being suffocated by those same communal confines. This sense of wanderlust is something that has been part of Rimanelli for most of his life and has resulted in his ability to make his novels part autobiographical, part perennial outsider. Sante Matteo wrote in the Dictionary of Literary Biography that Rimanelli "has never belonged to a literary movement or adhered to a political party or ideology. It was this artistic and political independence, along with his refusal to seek patronage and allies in literary circles, that led to his ostracism and eventual exile."
Rimanelli was born in Casacalenda, a small hilltop community in the Molise region of southern Italy. The town would play a role in Rimanelli's later works. Juxtaposed against the small, self-contained community with its deep-rooted sense of values and tradition was the Rimanelli family, filled with immigrants and wanderers.
Rimanelli's paternal grandfather, Seppe Rimanelli, had worked in America as a sewer worker; Tony "Dominick" Minicucci, Rimanelli's maternal grandfather, had been born in New Orleans in 1863. Dominick moved his family to Montreal in 1910 after witnessing the lynching of eleven innocent Italian immigrants in New Orleans in 1891 and later moved the family to Casacalenda.
It was here that Rimanelli's own struggle with the safety and strength of his community began to play at odds with his sense of wanderlust. Rimanelli's own first attempt to leave Casacalenda occurred in 1935 when he entered a Catholic seminary at Ascoli Satriano. There, he made plans to become a missionary, a position that would give him the opportunity to travel to remote parts of the world. Rimanelli studied Greek and Latin, patristic and medieval philosophy, and literature and musicology while at the seminary. In addition, he also studied French and Hebrew. But in his fifth year he left the seminary and returned to his home, ashamed of his failure to break his ties with Casacalenda. Rimanelli's second attempt to leave his home would be not only a disaster but the inspiration for his first novel.
In 1943, after the Allies invaded Italy during World War II, the Germans and Italian Fascists retreated northward, many of them passing through Rimanelli's hometown. A fellow former seminarian asked Rimanelli to join a group of partisans who planned to go north and fight the Fascists and the Germans. While he had no interest in politics, Rimanelli agreed to follow his friend. They were separated in Padua; Rimanelli was arrested by the Fascists in Venice and sent to a German labor camp near Verona, from which he escaped, risking execution as a deserter by the Nazis. In Milan he was then captured and was given the choice to be executed as a deserter or enlist in the Brigate Nere (Black Brigades). The Brigate Nere were the Fascist troops deployed after Benito Mussolini established the Fascist Social Republic of Northern Italy. Finally, he was sent to Vercelli and enrolled with the Legion Tagliamento. Rimanelli ended up fighting against the partisans he had left Casacalenda to aid. When the war ended in the spring of 1945, Rimanelli was imprisoned in the Allied concentration camp of Coltano where Ezra Pound was also kept, and later escaped from a train transporting war prisoners to Africa. After making his way back to his hometown, in two months he had completed his first two novels, the first partially based on his wartime experiences: Tiro al piccione and Peccato originale, the story of one family's attempts to immigrate to Canada.
Throughout his works, Rimanelli's younger characters see their hometowns change from safe communities with strong traditions to oppressive societies that drive the young characters to escape. This is particularly true with Marco Laudato, the narrator of Tiro al piccione. A teenage boy who lives in the fictional town of Calenda in the Molise province, Marco desperately wants to leave; he gets his chance by jumping on the back of one of the German trucks that drive through the town, fleeing from the Allied troops. For Marco, it is his own retreat away from a town that is close-minded and repressed in its laws and rituals. Standing on the Bridge of Sighs that connects the Doge's Palace to the Piombi prisons, Marco is a man with no home on a bridge between two lands, the water beneath him representing far-off places and travels. Marco serves with the Brigate Nere and, at the end of the war, he escapes imprisonment and makes his way back to Calenda. Now more than ever, Marco feels he is a lost misfit in his own hometown. He must reconcile his experiences in the war to his life at home. According to Matteo, this characteristic threads itself throughout Rimanelli's novels. "The exiled and displaced characters in his novels are forced to their knowledge and beliefs and to adjust their perception of reality within different linguistic, sociopolitical, and cultural frames of references…. With the vantage of distance they also gain a more accurate perception of the homelands they left behind and a better understanding of how community shapes character, sensibility, beliefs and behavior."
Rimanelli left home again in 1946 and traveled alone and penniless throughout Italy and Europe. In 1949, Cesare Pavese, an editor at Einaudi publishing house, read the manuscript for Tiro al piccione. He accepted the novel for publication, but committed suicide after the proofs had been printed. The novel was eventually published in 1953 in the Mondadori "Medusa" series, after being shelved after Pavese's suicide. Tiro al piccione was an immediate success, both in Italy and abroad. "Its poetic and impressionistic opening section is reminiscent of Celine and Stendahl," reviewed Taliaferro Boatwright in the New York Herald Tribune in 1954. "The subsequent descriptions of skirmishes are frighteningly raw and vivid and the end is moving. If Marco's convalescence and love affair are less interesting, they do not detract greatly from a remarkable book."
Random House published an English translation of the book titled The Day of the Lion: A Novel. Giuliano Montaldo, in his directorial debut, made the novel into a movie in 1961, which Rimanelli rejected as a falsification of his book.
Rimanelli's second novel, Peccato originale, was not as successful as his first. While his previous novel was told through the eyes of Marco, Peccato originale is told in third person by various members of the Vietri family who are trying to immigrate to America. Nicola Vietri is the family patriarch, desperate to arrange for his family to emigrate, while his wife, Ada, is reluctant to leave, but allows herself to be persuaded by Nicola's tales of a country that has economic opportunity and indoor plumbing. The third perspective comes from their sixteen-year-old daughter, Michela.
One night Michela is sexually assaulted, and according to the town's honor, Nicola is expected to seek vengeance against the rapists. Nicola painfully decides to live with the crime rather than seek vengeance and stand trial. His choice is made irrelevant, as he is later killed while attempting to evacuate farmers from land where a new water line is being built, ironically sacrificing his life for the device that will bring technology to the town he wanted to leave. Ada decides to continue with her husband's dream, but before they do, the town takes revenge on the rapists. At the close of the novel, Ada and Michela leave for America, but not before the women of the town castrate one of the rapists, restoring order to the town as abdicated by the rules of the community. "The writing is strikingly effective, filled with the melancholy fatalism that characterizes the neorealistic school of Italian writers," said J.A. Burns in a Library Journal review. But while Burns's review was positive, many in the Italian community believed the explicit brutality of the novel far overshadowed any worthwhile message the novel had.
During 1949 and 1953 Rimanelli traveled to Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, Greece, and Israel. Following his parents and brothers who immigrated to Canada in 1949, where he worked as the editor of Il cittadino canadese in Montreal. His third book, Biglietto di terza is a retelling of his time in Canada. The book is a mixture of a travel diary, adventure story—complete with photographs of the Canadian wilderness—and realistic narrative fiction. Still, Rimanelli cannot reconcile the struggle between home and adventure. Biglietto di terza describes the Canadian towns as similar to those of his Italian home: they too are oppressive, and it is only in the Canadian wilderness that peace can be found. At the end of the book, the narrator prepares to return to Italy because he is not ready to leave behind his past to live in this vast land.
Rimanelli's fourth novel, Una posizione sociale is similar to his previous works, a mixture of autobiographical works and fiction, taking place all in one night, January 15, 1937. The narrator is a sensitive ten-year-old boy named Massimo. The boy spends most of the night searching for someone to help his mother give birth. Because Rimanelli wrote the novel after spending years away from his home of Casacalenda, perhaps, this novel has a less critical view of life in the small town. This is another trait that runs through Rimanelli's characters. While his younger characters long for adventure, his older characters would be driven by the opposite desire—a desire to return to their homelands after having left them to travel the world.
Rimanelli had been writing a collection of columns under the pseudonym A.G. Solari since 1958 for Lo Specchio, a Roman weekly. Publishing them in book form through Sugar, a minor Milan publishing house, he attacked his fellow writers of compromising their art due to their politics. Anti-Fascism in the post-World War II era became prison for artists in Italy, said Solari, who called the writings of the time "gli isterici," or hysterical art. Solari said that hysterical art is reflected or filled from artificial sources, while real art comes from the artist's own personality. Throughout his columns, Solari criticized fellow writers like Tommaso Landolfi and Alberto Moravia. Before the publication of Il mestiere del furbo: Panorama della narrativa italiana contemporanea in 1959, Rimanelli decided to reveal his identity with disastrous results. He was instantly shunned by writers and publishers and forced to leave Italy for North America. "One wonders how Rimanelli's career might have been different had he presented Solari's ideas in the form of Platonic dialogues, as he did in two theatrical pieces he was writing at the time: Te in casa Picasso and Il corno francese," commented Matteo. "In any case his marginalization in Italy served to lead Rimanelli in new and, in many ways, more fruitful directions as he started to live and write in two languages and in two cultures."
Rimanelli continued to write, traveling back to Italy and publishing a series of books with Marinelli, a publishing house there. His works during this time include Graffiti, an experimental piece that incorporates lyric poetry, stream of consciousness and dramatic dialogue. Molise Molise includes poems and memoirs and displays the longing that Rimanelli felt for abandoning Italy and the rediscovery of the land. Il tempo nascosto fra le righe is a collection of fourteen short stories. Carmina blabla: Versi e disegni, 1959–1967, Monaci d'amore medievali, Arcano, Moliseide: Ballate e canzoni in dialetto molisano, Alien Cantina: An American Journey (1964–1993) are all poetry collections.
The 1990s saw a resurgence in the popularity of Rimanelli's early work. In 1991 Einaudi republished Tiro al piccione, introducing the novel to a new generation of readers. Sebastiano Martelli, in his introduction to the new edition, likens Rimanelli's style in the novel to such writers as Ernest Hemingway, Erich Maria Remarque, and Stephen Crane. Not only did Rimanelli see his popularity rise again in Italy, but he became an important American writer as well. His first English-language novel, Benedetta in Guysterland: A Liquid Novel, won the American Book Award in 1994. The novel tells the story of Benedetta, an Appalachian woman, and Mafioso Joe Adonis.
Rimanelli's works often show the struggle of a "misfit" who, trapped in the confines of a small town, longs for the expansive possibilities of the outside world. Acting on that wanderlust, his characters find pain and violence. Upon returning to their homes they see the small community with a new light. Rimanelli's own life parallels these journeys, building a literary bridge that links both of his worlds.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 177: Italian Novelists since World War II, 1945–1965, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1997.
Gardophé, Fred L., Italian Signs, American Streets, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 1996.
Martelli, Sebastiano, editor, Rimanelliana: Studies on Giose Rimanelli, Forum Italicum (Stony Brook, NY), 2000.
Postman, Sheryl Lynn, Crossing the Acheron: A Study on Nine Novels by Giose Rimanelli, Legas (New York, NY), 2000.
Library Journal, June 15, 1957, J.A. Burns, review of Peccato originals.
New York Herald Tribune, November 24, 1954, Taliaferro Boatwright, review of Tiro al piccione.