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Setting aside the somewhat forced metaphor, I do agree that the shared imagery and the tendency to identify with past models are outstanding features of prison discourse and, as such, substantiate its designation as genre while investing it with something of an eternal quality. This said, it should not be forgotten that prison writing is also influenced by the literary currents, trends, and values of the historical moment from which it emerges.

Klopp has successfully integrated this notion into his discussion and thus illumined certain aspects of the Aldo Moro writings, for example, and those of Andrea Costa and the Communists.

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His book certainly whets the appetite for more of this type of analysis, which must obviously be minimized in a wide-ranging survey. Indeed, the strength of Sentences lies in its broad coverage of materials not easily accessed, but, nonetheless, brought forth with mastery. The reader's understanding and appreciation of the more peculiar or distinctive tropes of prison narrative are advanced by Klopp's acute observations of the ordinary and extraordinary experiences of imprisonment.

One such elucidation highlights the potentially paradoxical state of forced confinement in which bodily constraints may actually dispose the mind to a certain broadening, a heightened receptiveness, or even freedom. Klopp also points out that the reverse is possible, in that victims of confinement may be so traumatized, demoralized, or otherwise unable to adapt to captivity that they simply lose the powers of concentration or memory.

In this same spirit of mental and physical interplay, Klopp presents an interesting discussion of the "textualization of the body and the accompanying corporalization of the text" As he demonstrates with numerous examples, the suffering body itself can become a medium of expression "able to authenticate or subvert an accompanying or competing text" Whether it be writing in blood or on soiled bandages, the visible scars of torture or illness, or in the "dialectic of substitution and replacement" , the pathology of the prisoner is a graphic fixture of prison discourse.

Klopp's elaborations on this theme are extremely important not only to the study of these particular texts, but in furthering, from a socio-cultural perspective, our understanding of the role of captivity in human society.

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Any interpreter of highly subjective material must be faithful to the content of the text, that is, to the words each author has chosen to convey his or her thoughts. Klopp tells us, though, that he and the reader must also see what is not stated in the text. He explains that prison writing consists of an ostensible text beneath which lies a "clandestine" or "unarticulated, secret" text which, in his view, is "more authentic" 10, than that which the author has in fact composed.

Although I admire his line of reasoning and am equally intrigued by these authors' allusions to hidden or lost texts, suppressed emotions or ideas, censored fragments, and ineffable experiences, I do not agree that the unspoken text is somehow more authentic than the text which functions as its referent. If indeed a covert, though undefined, text is somehow implied within the overt text, the allusion itself must be seen as meaningful. In a sense, the author has, consciously or subconsciously, invited the reader to speculation.

In the altogether different case of writings in symbolic language, cryptic alphabets, acrostics, or even invisible ink, which are intended for a specific recipient, the question is not one of authenticity but of simply recognizing the symbiotic function of a foil text or, literally, a pretext and the coded message it harbors. He repeatedly refers to "inexpressible passion," "ineffable suffering" , "unexpressed affection" , "inexpressible texts of suffering and desire" 10 as if these experiences, common to all people, surpass the limits of human expression.

If that were the case, the world would have very few works of art, musical compositions, or books. Is it not in the act of writing, singing, painting, dancing, or remembering, whilst body and mind are engaged in the struggle to express, that the experience lives?


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Artistic expression is never finalized nor perfected, yet in that imperfection, it accurately reflects the human condition. Countless Holocaust scholars invariably refer to the unutterable nature of that horrific event, yet there, within the testimonies of each survivor, a voice speaks the unspeakable. The nightmare, according to Primo Levi, himself a Holocaust witness, was not the "gruesome privilege of writing," but the fear that the world would not listen, or in his own ironic turn of phrase, that his would be an "unlistened-to story. In conclusion, I cannot neglect to mention what I perceive as a persistent source of distraction throughout Charles Klopp's otherwise masterful work.

The very title of his book, Sentences: The Memoirs and Letters of Italian Political Prisoners from Benvenuto Cellini to Aldo Moro, presents a troublesome issue in that neither Cellini nor Moro was a political prisoner by any definition of the term as it is understood today or, for that matter, in its prototypical sense. Since there exist slightly variant definitions of the term "political prisoner" presently vying for universal recognition, it seems all the more imperative that Klopp clarify his own interpretation in a way that remains consistent throughout his discussion.

The elasticity with which he treats this key term has spilled over onto other closely associated terms, such as the word "prison" itself. A convent or a ritiro as Mondragone was called in Caracciolo's case is not a prison, nor is a hospital for the mentally ill Tasso's case , although I am well aware not only of their historical associations with carceral institutions, but also of the many similar experiences that forced confinement in such places might produce.

However, some defining parameters must be drawn, or we could easily expand the discussion to include house arrests or any number of institutions from orphanages, schools, factories, retirement homes, military barracks, rehabilitation centers, and so on. For all of their Foucaultian similarities, these institutions are symbols of quite different social mechanisms, operating on distinct principles and generating their own logic and purpose, some with the aim of protecting society from the dangerous transgressor, others to protect, for example, the chaste nun or wayward juvenile from society and its contaminating evils.

Is the nun Enrichetta Caracciolo's erotic interest a "prison doctor" or a "convent doctor"?

Klopp uses the words as if they were interchangeable , The reader is further baffled by the inclusion of a purely fictitious work the Pignata story , the letters of Red Brigades' hostage, Aldo Moro who committed no crime at all , and the cases of Cellini, Tasso, Casanova, and Caracciolo, whose offenses do not appear to be politically motivated. Klopp's introductory remarks on Cellini, Tasso, and Casanova, in which he states that "these men were transgressive enough in their behavior for irritated ecclesiastical or civil authorities to decide they should go to jail" 12 , and are thus "precursors" to later political prisoners, do not, in my mind, serve the reader adequately nor bear the burden of expectation that his weighty title creates.

My concern with this matter is as practical as it is theoretical in that the autobiographical writings of prisoners are, with few exceptions, acutely focused upon the particular physical and psychological conditions of their prison environment, on the circumstances of their trials and interrogations, and on the nature of their actual or purported crimes. Their respective self-portraits and portrayals of captivity, while intimately linked to the constricted world on the "inside," are also shaped by the "outside," that is, by the perceived moral judgments of family, friends, society in general, and even their oppressors.

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My argument is not with Klopp's treating the various aforementioned authors. In truth, these segments of his book are among the more interesting, for here we find much of the shared imagery that connects all portraits of confinement. Nonetheless, I maintain that the writings of a political dissident reflect a very different perspective and overall experience from those of a mentally disturbed poet or a wanton libertine, and the attempt to represent all such writers as political prisoners is simply misleading, and conveys a false sense of continuity where, in fact, stands an historical discontinuity.

Beyond the culturally specific considerations which so richly inform this book, and regardless of country or language, Charles Klopp's Sentences represents one of the most thought-provoking and vital contributions to the study of prison literature in recent scholarship. Detroit: Wayne State UP, Giambattista Basile's Pentamerone, a collection of forty-nine fairy tales framed by a fiftieth tale that opens and closes the collection, which was published posthumously in , is described by Marina Warner as "the foundation stone of the modern literary fairy tale" From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers Critical attention to this work, however, especially in English, has been sparse and uneven.

Nineteenth- and twentieth-century folklorists tended to see Basile as an anomalous figure in early seventeenth-century Italian letters. Like Rabelais, Basile uses carnival and grotesque themes and techniques to fuse seemingly antithetical traditions. Basile drew his materials from the more realistic novelle of Boccaccio's "groundbreaking model of the Decameron in the mid-fourteenth century" 54 which, mutatis mutandi, Matteo Bandello and Giovan Francesco Straparola kept in circulation, and from the Neapolitan dialect tradition of writers like Giulio Cesare Cortese and Felippe de Scafata Sgruttendio, who were already carnivalizing themes and motifs from classical, chivalric, epic, and folk literature Chapter 3.

Theoreticians of dialect literature view the tradition either as engaging in a critical polemic with the literary traditions and institutions of the time, or as aiming to valorize the local culture and integrate these resources into a unified literary tradition. Canepa uses both theories in her analyses of the tales which she organizes around the fairy-tale characters rather than around a day-by-day analysis of the stories Chapters Although there are some similarities between the tales told each day, it is through the diverse representations of fairy tale's stock characters that we see Basile's "critique of social reality and the power hierarchies of his time [.

Portraits of corrupt and inept kings and courtiers Chapter 4 mask Basile's autobiographical reflections on the vicissitudes of his life as a working bourgeois intellectual and not as a populist as some critics would have it in a court consumed by conspicuous and prestige consumerism. Basile's kings are of a "diminished authority and distracted nature"; rather than being "the guarantors of the well-being of a system, they are the most blatant symptom of its malaise" In Chapter 6, "The Key to Success: Enterprising Heroes and Heroines," the artifices of trickery, solidarity, and ingenuo, usually on the part of the female characters, provide caustic commentary on what life has become in Spanish-dominated Naples.

Chapter 7 demonstrates how the portraits of ogres, fools, and forests that proliferate throughout the tales can be interpreted as comic caricatures of Basile's historical self, or as alternative figures of transgression and positive difference. Canepa's readings of the historical and cultural contexts of the tales are scholarly and well-informed although, at times, by dint of their seriousness, show the limitations of these theories when dealing with the burlesque. Although Basile participates in the formation of a literary genre, which fifty years later Madame d'Aulnoy and others would use to represent a "transformed world in which justice, equality and love would reign" 19 , this was far from the case in the majority of Basile's tales where Fortune and chance, semi-humanized ogres and fairies helped less than ideal protagonists stumble through stock ordeals that ended well most of the time despite their misguided efforts.

For example, in the most famous tale of the Pentamerone, "Lo cuento dell'uerco" "The Tale of the Ogre" , where an ogre and a lazy fool are the principal protagonists, Canepa sees the moral initiation of Antuono a stock name for a fool and happy ending as part of the reward for Antuono's learning to use language effectively, something a nice ogre was trying to teach him.

This reward also figures into Basile's project of bringing the low tradition into the mainstream. However, as Canepa states, Basile has a preference for the "low-mimetic mode" Northrop Frye's term although no mention is made of Frye which indeed functions to make the burlesque and its characters seem more based in everyday reality Hence are we to sympathize with or just laugh at this half-human, pragmatic ogre type who gives the fool a jewel-defecating donkey to take home to a mother already frustrated with her son's denseness?

Antuono loses the donkey on the way home to a tavern keeper, and brings home a donkey who does his business on the linens saved for his sisters' dowry, and gets thrown out again. Canepa quotes Jameson's theory that "Genres are essentially literary institutions, or social contracts between a writer and a specific public, whose function is to specify the proper use of a specific cultural artifact" Indeed it is difficult to interpret a "contract" in a text where all genres are being burlesqued including that of the common sense proverb at the end of so many of Basile's tales which misses rather than clarifies the point of the story.

Basile destabilizes all meaning except perhaps in the eclogues which, as Canepa points out, attack directly one form, the pastoral, and thus make Basile's criticism of the court clear.

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However, as Canepa states early on, her main goal is not to read the tales as cynical reactions on Basile's part, or as a historical or sociological tract in which Basile is pleading for a more just and noble world for himself and fellow members of the "Oziosi," the literary academy founded in whose name showed the members' irreverent awareness of the precarious status of the literary tradition in which they wrote.

For Canepa, Basile's greatest achievement was his creation of a model of "literary interaction" Basile was working with materials from the long illustrious Greek and Roman romance tradition, whose plots and characters can be found in the fourteenth-century Gesta Romanorum, a text long believed to be the principal storehouse of Italian novelists writing realistic, horror, tragic, or comic stories. Basile even wrote his own version of Heliodorus's romance Aethiopica.

But it is precisely his brilliant use of dialect which makes Basile even more difficult now for us to understand.

Canepa's theory of the workings of metaphor in Basile, which she works into every chapter and then fully and brilliantly develops in the final two chapters, elucidate how Basile parodies Classical, Renaissance, and finally the folk tradition itself in ways that exemplify and clarify the rhetorical creativity and exuberance of the Baroque. Therefore, thanks to Canepa and this well-written, well-researched, and most interesting and amusing critical work, it will be hard from now on to ignore Basile and his place in the Western literary tradition. Virginia Cox.

Chicago: U of Chicago P, Among Italian women writers of the Renaissance who have most impacted on teaching and research recently, Moderata Fonte seems to occupy the number one position. Writing a few years ago an entry for a European encyclopedia on women, I was undecided whether I should catalogue this writer under her family name, Modesta Pozzo, or her penname, Moderata Fonte. At that time few people seemed to have heard of her. What a difference a few years make! Today Fonte has graciously taken her place among canonized Italian Renaissance writers, and the recent beautiful translation in English by Virginia Cox of her work, The Worth of Women Il merito delle donne , goes a long way toward making her name known within a larger pool of critics and students.