Author: Dario Maestripieri

Interpreting Italo Svevo—When Literary Orthodoxy Misses The Mark

The orthodoxy among literary scholars  In 2019 I attended the annual conference of the Associazione degli Italianisti (ADI, The Association for Scholars of Italian Literature), in Pisa. The conference’s theme was “Literature & Science;” I was invited to participate in a panel, along with some other scientists, and attended as many presentations and debates as possible. Although I was relieved to learn that literature in Italy has not been taken over by social justice activism as has happened in the U.S., Italian literary studies are not immune to rigid orthodoxies. The study of 20th-century Italian literature is strongly “theory-driven,” and dominated by two schools of thought: the Marxist, and the psychoanalytical (or Freudian) school. In the past, there was also a Catholic school in Italian literary studies, but it is no longer prominent. The Marxist school is based on Marx’s axiom that art and literature are the product of socio-economic processes, and therefore that novels must be understood from the perspective of class struggle. The psychoanalytical school is based on the premise that, insofar as …

Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class—A Review

A review of Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class by Charles Murray, Twelve (January 28th, 2020), 528 pages. Charles Murray believes in the values of Enlightenment: science and knowledge, truth and progress. Like the fictional character Lodovico Settembrini—a pro-Enlightenment Italian humanist in Thomas Mann’s 1924 novel The Magic Mountain—Murray believes that science provides the best method available to produce objective knowledge about ourselves and the world; that knowledge about ourselves and the world is important and good; that this knowledge will bring us closer to the truth about who we are and where we come from; and that this knowledge will foster human progress and lead to more prosperous, peaceful, fair, and egalitarian societies as well as greater health and happiness for their inhabitants. If, say, Montesquieu had visited the United States in the mid-late 20th century (as did his French countryman Alexis de Tocqueville in 1831), he might have thought of this country as the closest thing to an embodiment of his Enlightenment ideals. If he journeyed here again in 2020, …