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The Value of Worthless LivesWriting Italian American Immigrant Autobiographies$
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Ilaria Serra

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226788

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823226788.001.0001

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(p.155) Conclusion
The Value of Worthless Lives

Ilaria Serra

Fordham University Press

This book is proof of the reversal of Giuseppe Prezzolini's 1963 conclusions about Italian immigrant autobiography and his claim that the immigrants did not want to remember their past and that they left no written word. This book is full of evidence of how ardently these people wanted their memories preserved. Italian American autobiographical material has existed all along, but its study was hampered by the fact that it did not match the heroic claims of greatness that fit with the mid-twentieth-century view of what was worthy material for an autobiography. This group of some sixty Italian Americans who tell their stories here experienced universal struggles shared by everyone, and suffered immigration traumas comparable to those that many ethnic immigrant groups have faced. In this way one can see many universal truths in these examples. These stories of Italian American lives offer local color and cultural detail that isn't provided by immigration statistics, something even more vivid and illustrative than photographs of immigrants.

Keywords:   Giuseppe Prezzolini, immigrants, autobiography, Italian Americans, memories

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