Don DeLillo's Italian American: the early short stories and Underworld

Lauret, Maria (2018) Don DeLillo's Italian American: the early short stories and Underworld. In: Da Cunha Lewin, Katherine and Ward, Kiron (eds.) Don DeLillo:contemporary critical perspectives. Contemporary Critical Perspectives . Bloomsbury, London, New York, Oxford, New Delhi, Sydney, pp. 95-110. ISBN 9781350040878

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In recent years Don DeLillo has increasingly identified himself in interview as Italian American, but his work is rarely read in this light. Focusing on DeLillo’s language, this chapter examines his use of Italian and Italian American in two early short stories and in Underworld ( 1997 ), as well as a broader bilingual sensibility evident in his twenty-first-century fiction. Drawing on linguistic and psychoanalytic theories of bilingualism, it demonstrates the formative nature of DeLillo’s early short stories, and shows how strategies for representation of linguistic and cultural difference used there inform the later work. Close analysis of Italian and Italian American lexis in Underworld then reveals how these ‘foreign’ elements enable ideology-critique and invoke subliminal intertextuality. This analysis shows how DeLillo’s language is the subject as well as the medium of his art and concludes that metalinguistic reflection in Point Omega ( 2010 ), Falling Man ( 2007 ), The Body Artist ( 2001 ) and Zero K ( 2016 ) is ultimately rooted in DeLillo’s Italian American.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: DeLillo; Italian American; Zero K; early short stories; bilingualism; metalinguistic reflection
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex Centre for American Studies
Depositing User: Maria Lauret
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2019 07:52
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2019 07:52

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