Lu Malocchio in Ricci’s Lives of the Saints

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The evil eye or malocchio has appeared in the works of a number of Italian-Canadian writers but for most its role has been limited. In Lives of the Saints, however, the first volume of the trilogy of the same name by Nino Ricci, its role is fundamental to the novel’s narrative construction. The central act of the novel, set in a village in southern Italy in the 1960s, is the snakebite received by the protagonist’s mother, Cristina, while she is engaged in adulterous intercourse. She becomes pregnant as a result of this encounter and is ostracised by the villagers who interpret her condition as the consequence of the evil eye, lu malocchiu. The evil eye becomes a symbol of the pain and violence of the behavioural rules and boundaries imposed on women’s flesh. Ricci, the most successful Italian-Canadian author of his generation, uses the concept of malocchio to unmask the implications of traditional patriotic and nostalgic narratives based on women’s sexuality, and eventually to construct a complex narrative of the Italian-Canadian post-migrant experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-60
JournalQuaderni d'Italianistica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012


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