GENERAL PLAN OF THE COMPLETE SERIES:Volume I: From the origins to the early 17th century (in preparation)Volume II: From the Restoration to romanticism (in preparation)Volume III: From 1832 to 1870, in two Parts (now available)1. Prose and poetry (ISBN 88 7166 696 8)2. Fiction (ISBN 88 7166 704 2)Volume IV: From 1870 to 1921 (in preparation)Volume V: From 1921 to the present (in preparation)_x000D_
Storia della letteratura inglese by Franco Marucci will probably constitute, when complete in its five volumes, the most comprehensive and analytical, single-handed manual of English literature to date. Apparently traditional in its approach, strictly sequential in its work-by-work treatments introduced by annotated reference sections, it is scholarly yet accessible, richly informative and committedly interpretive. While firmly placing authors in their biographical, historical and intellectual context, Marucci, himself an early structuralist and typologist, provides detailed, sophisticated, insightful and often revisionary textual readings that frankly accept the challenge of pre- and, above all, post-war interpretations of texts – from semiotics and post-structuralism to psychoanalysis, deconstruction, gender, and feminism – though never yielding to the enticement of over-interpretation. Such theoretical premises, the chosen argumentative pace and the range of self-declared objectives explain and justify the scope of this work, which the author, now in his mid fifties, expects to complete within a decade._x000D_
Volume III, from 1832 to 1870, in two Parts, and now available, spans the first forty years of the Victorian Age. Part I – Prose and Poetry – argues the pivotal function of religion, as debated by its far-from-unanimous early Victorian apologists and champions (Dr. Arnold of Rugby, Carlyle, Newman, Ruskin) as well as by its merely tolerant adversaries (Mill, Macaulay), and explores the resulting oscillation between romantic escape, sceptical solipsism and social responsibility in the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett, Tennyson, Browning, Clough and Matthew Arnold. The aegis of religion was only broken by the advent of Pre-Raphaelitism. This trajectory is reflected in a series of well-known enigmatic masterworks on which Marucci expends his ingenuity and interpretive insight. Nonetheless, taking account of the most recent canon re-definitions, he also devotes considerable space to submerged and so far neglected poets such as Patmore and Adelaide Procter; to the seriousness of nonsense poetry and of Lear’s limericks, viewed as a grotesque, masked conflict between the individual and society; to the dialect poet William Barnes and to the Victorian poetesses. He finally rescues from critical oblivion the Spasmodics, and honours a minor prose masterpiece such as Alexander Smith’s Dreamthorp._x000D_
In Part II – Fiction – Marucci reopens the interpretive discourse on one of the largest and most complex sub-canons of Western literature on the assumption that the serial system, though tyrannical, allowed the great Victorian novelists sufficient if not, in fact, enormous liberty to conceal subterranean tracks that still intrigue the modern reader. After acknowledging Disraeli’s pioneering early work and reassessing the case of the polymaths Bulwer-Lytton and Ainsworth, he shows how Dickens, Thackeray and even Trollope – to whom he devotes a patient novel-by-novel examination – were not simply responding with infallible instinct to the literary market but astutely planning highly related symbolic organisms for a future readership. At the same time Marucci subjects women’s fiction to a fresh, unpartisan and provocative readjustment, unearthing the Pauline thread that runs through Charlotte BrontÃ«’s novels and devoting an exceptionally dense, analytical and documented chapter to Wuthering Heights that probes into its nature of bafflingly open text. Along with these major figures, novelists soon forgotten in their time and only now being rediscovered, such as Yonge, Oliphant, Mulock Craik, Wood, Borrow, Blackmore, the muscular Kingsley and his followers, and the sensationalists Wilkie Collins, Reade and Le Fanu, receive their share of attention as writers of high craftsmanship and sophistication. The final, absorbing sections evaluate Meredith’s virtuoso, already modernistic variations on his autobiography, and plumb George Eliot’s formidable Å“uvre, in a close reading resting on the crucial, metafictional relevance of her overlooked tale The Lifted Veil. _x000D_
Franco Marucci (born in 1949) came in the early Seventies, as an undergraduate at the University of Florence, under the influence of linguistics, formalism, structuralism and of the then nascent literary semiotics. Yet he soon felt the need to overcome a strictly intratextual approach, to relate technique to context and to reinstate the author. Professor Marucci has taught English at the Universities of Siena, Florence and, since 1987, Venice Ca’ Foscari. His publications in book form include Il senso interrotto. Autonomia e codificazione nella poesia di Dylan Thomas (Ravenna 1976); Gerard Manley Hopkins. Il silenzio e la parola (Pisa 1977); Il Vittorianesimo (Bologna 1991) and The Fine Delight that Fathers Thought: Rhetoric and Medievalism in Gerard Manley Hopkins (Washington 1994).