Rosa Cappiello’s 'Paese Fortunato' and the Poetics of Alienation
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The paper characterises Rosa Cappiello’s art in Paese fortunato as the poetics of alienation. The narratorprotagonist’s portrayal of the first two years she spent in Sydney took little account of the emerging politics of Australian multiculturalism. Rather, her unselfconscious use of labels that categorise according to ethnicity (‘the Greek girls’/‘those lousy Greek cows’, ‘the Turk’s child’, ‘the pretty Lebanese poofter’, ‘the Yugoslavs’, ‘the French and Danish women’) portrays a deeply divided vision of Australian society. Her isolation is completed by her sense of disconnection from the Italian Australian community, which she detests for what she sees as its crass materialism and its reduction of life to ‘the feverish race for gain’. This suggests that her alienation may not have been the result only of the migration and settlement experience but that it had its roots in her personal pre-migrant life and in deep-seated notions of national identity. With regards to her negative depictions of ethnic characters, we have hypothesised that her sense of alienation was intensified by her critical and literary background. In the second half of the paper, we focus on the author’s experimentation with syntactic categories in order to create effects of fragmentation. Pivotal to the discussion is the tension between physical survival and the genesis of her art, with the discussion then widening to show how Cappiello’s poetics reflect the experiential contours of separation, marginalisation and exile, not only from the perspective of the migrant, but within other sectors of society.