WESSWEB - Western European Specialists Section Newsletter

Vol. 18, No. 1 (Fall, 1994)
New Haven, Connecticut
Page 1

Emerging European Writing: Visions and Voices of the New Europe
1994 WESS Program in Miami

Frank Di Trolio (FU)
Miami Program Chair

The program, titled "Emerging European Writing: Visions and Voices of the New Europe," addressed the impact of the recent socio-political changes in Western Europe on its culture and writing.

Giuliana Menozzi, of the University of Florida, spoke on the political and literary implications of current Italian publishing. The control by such giants as Mondadori, whose owner is the present prime minister, has had a detrimental effect on the publication of serious fiction in a country where only 50 percent of the population reads one book per year. Translations and pulp fiction make up 90 percent of all the titles published, a factor which also affects women authors, who may be writing the best Italian fiction at the moment, according to Menozzi.

Aida Bamia, a professor of Arabic at the University of Florida, spoke on the literature of second-generation French Arabs, the so-called Beur. In her presentation, "The Impossible Dialogue," she described the acute generational and cultural tensions in these autobiographical novels. Depicting an antagonism toward the older generation and not sharing the same cultural and religious attachments, the Beur writers also do not feel fully integrated into French society. One of the best examples of this literature is, as the title indicates, Leila Houari's Zeida de nulle part.

The somewhat neglected but imaginatively rich contemporary Portuguese literature was next surveyed by Richard Preto-Rodas of the University of South Florida. He showed how older literary forces such as Pessoa still exert an influence with his "extraordinary insights into alienation, radical irony, and the disintegration of the self." An influence which has helped in the renewal of Portuguese fiction has been the Latin American magic realism, best exemplified in Jose Saramago's novels.

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Finally, Siegfried Mews of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill spoke on "European Germany or German Europe? Reflections on the Literary Unification Debate." His presentation dealt as much with political issues as with literary ones, since the contemporary writer now had to deal with the double-faced problem of Germany's role within Europe and with its united self. Although the concept of a Germany within a unified Europe had been alive since 1946, the post-wall debate shifted towards a more philosophical enquiry of the significance of a united Germany and the role it should play within a new, redefined Europe.

Copies of speakers' bibliographies are available from the author at 904-392-4919 or frandit@nervm.nerdc.ufl.edu.

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