Stereotypical representations of the Mezzogiorno are a persistent feature of Italian culture at all levels. In Darkest Italy, John Dickie analyzes these stereotypes in the post-Unification period, when the Mezzogiorno was widely seen as barbaric, violent or irrational, an "Africa" on the European continent. At the same time, this is the moment when the Mezzogiorno became a metaphor for the state of the country as a whole, the index of Italy's modernity. Dickie argues that these stereotypes, rather than being a symptom of the failings of national identity in Italy, were actually integral to the way Italy's bourgeoisie imagined themselves as Italian. Drawing on recent theories of Otherness and national identity, Dickie brings a new light to an important and well-established area of Italian history - the relationship between the South and the nation as a whole.

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