The first book of Cooper’s European trilogy, The Bravo, directly engages problems of democracy, taking eighteenth century Venice as a setting, and the Venetian government of that time as an instance of tyranny. Although the novel was actually aimed at comparing systems of government by investigating the dangers of oligarchic and mass mediatic power in a republic, it was received in Italy as bearing directly on the Italian situation. The choice of Venice, in particular, was resented as an attack on the memories of the Venetian independent republican rule. On the background of contemporary reception, the essay offers a parallel reading of the Venetian reviews that appeared immediately after the novel’s publication, and of the destructive article that “Cassio” famously devoted to The Bravo in the New York American. In both cases, it is argued, the agenda and political claims of the reviewers interpose themselves—although with diverse motivations and argumentations—in the reading of the novel, focusing too closely on somewhat marginal aspects. As a result, criticism ends up by erasing both the structure of the story and Cooper's declared political intent. The essay concludes by claiming that much of the book's negative criticism exploited the book's indeterminacy in its portrayal of the Venetian setting and characters.

The Reception of Cooper's The Bravo

SCANNAVINI, ANNA
2010-01-01

Abstract

The first book of Cooper’s European trilogy, The Bravo, directly engages problems of democracy, taking eighteenth century Venice as a setting, and the Venetian government of that time as an instance of tyranny. Although the novel was actually aimed at comparing systems of government by investigating the dangers of oligarchic and mass mediatic power in a republic, it was received in Italy as bearing directly on the Italian situation. The choice of Venice, in particular, was resented as an attack on the memories of the Venetian independent republican rule. On the background of contemporary reception, the essay offers a parallel reading of the Venetian reviews that appeared immediately after the novel’s publication, and of the destructive article that “Cassio” famously devoted to The Bravo in the New York American. In both cases, it is argued, the agenda and political claims of the reviewers interpose themselves—although with diverse motivations and argumentations—in the reading of the novel, focusing too closely on somewhat marginal aspects. As a result, criticism ends up by erasing both the structure of the story and Cooper's declared political intent. The essay concludes by claiming that much of the book's negative criticism exploited the book's indeterminacy in its portrayal of the Venetian setting and characters.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11697/21373
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