Noble or disgraceful? Passions in the Italian Risorgimento, through
biographical writings, literary canon, later representations
This essay offers a comparison between biographical writings by militants of the Risorgimento and the canon of patriotic literature. Especially in the democratic area, biographies reveal a change in gender identities and relations in the framework of a widespread aspiration to personal freedom among young generations. Nevertheless Italian patriotic literature was reluctant to represent women’s rebellion against patriarchal rules, insisting rather on the icons of women’s chastity and sacrifice. Finally the essay analyses the topic of the unbridled passion of a woman towards an enemy of her Country through Senso, a novel by Camillo Boito, and the film that Visconti based on it, developing the theme, nevertheless, in a deeply different perspective.