Deconstructing Fascism: Ernest Hemingway's Italian Sites and WWI

This paper explores how Ernest Hemingway challenged the ideological construction of Fascist identity through a series of short stories written between the 1920s and 1930s.

This paper analyses how Hemingway realized how Fascist appropriated History to create a new ethnic identity that challenged the very core of the Democratic self. This work tries to reconstruct how. from the mid-Twenties onwards, with the Fascist regime’s rise to power, Italians apparently began to look back at their most immediate history from a different perspective endowing it with a halo of myth. For, the Fascists appropriated history to the point of constructing its own ideology upon the myth of the First World War, the war as the symbol of a united nation and of a new Risorgimento.  Thus, Mussolini and his followers considered the military victories after Caporetto as the beginning of a new era, an era of moral regeneration due to the heroic sacrifice undertaken by a new generation of patriots energetically reacting against the Austrian. Fascists insisted that they embodied the “real Italy,” an aristocracy of “new men,” a trenchocracy, who had beaten Austria at the battle of Vittorio Veneto and were ready to regenerate the nation.

In this paper, I will focus on two short stories “In Another Country” (1927) and “A Way You’ll Never Be” (1933). In those stories, intimately linked to his Italian experience during the First World War, Hemingway cast doubt on the Fascist myth of the celebration of war for its own sake and the optimistic nationalistic revival which helped to expel the Austrian army from Italy.

I would like to show how Hemingway’s pieces were, on the contrary, dark accounts of the high price of victory and the painful destruction of a liberal civilization. I want to stress that Hemingway presented the apparently heroic period of Italy’s history, a period of national regeneration, as a social and political nightmare. These short pieces showed how the First World War, instead of being an instrument for national rebirth, the beginning of a “sacred history” in Fascist terms, symbolized chaos, fear, and social regression.

Palabras clave

Fascismo Futurismo Identidad Nacional Violencia Política

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Alberto Lena

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      Alberto Lena

      Comentó el 19/05/2021 a las 20:17:55

      Thank you for your kind answer. I am happy you have enjoyed the presentation.
      I think that the study can fit into a high school History program in terms of recurring an interdisciplinary approach by tracking autobiographic narratives of Italian soldiers and during and after WWI and reading some of Hemingway’s short stories. Then, it will be very fascinating to show how these individuals face mutilation and death while Fascist political discourse celebrated the beauty of war and violence playing the function of a vehicle for inner regeneration and political renewal.
      There is also a literary and linguistic application of the research by tracking the linguistic expressions of Hemingway’s short stories that the reader with images of suffering, displacement and alienation through semantic fields and lexical sets. These devices will help the student understand the segmentation of memory and experience forged by war trauma.


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      Pamela Giorgi

      Comentó el 19/05/2021 a las 13:07:54

      Hello, congratulations for your research. Do you think that your study can be adapted for a didactic use in high school? Have you hypothesized a possible application in the field of linguistic, literary and historical didactics? Thanks


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