The writer’s provincial muse: Piero chiara in the coffeehouse

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Piero Chiara's coffeehouses are a refuge for political dissidents, spies, and drifters. His anti-heroes' vicissitudes constitute a web of references throughout his work that depicts an ideal autobiography and extols, in the Italian literature, the role of coffeehouses. Historians describe four types of coffeehouses in twentieth-century Italy: caf-chantant, literary caf, luxury caf, and popular coffeehouse. Each character's oratorical verve, even if limited to the provincial world Chiara describes, reflects the qualities of the perfect homo facetus, great storyteller and companion of the Italian courts. Chiara completes his project of social fiction with an exploration of the function of play in coffeehouses. Johann Huizinga considers play a free activity experienced as 'make-believe' in a space outside of everyday life. His ablest coffeehouse orators promote a social critique that challenges also the political regime. In Chiara's works, writing becomes the act to save both freedom of expression and the identity mask any author wears to survive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Thinking Space
Subtitle of host publicationThe Cafe as a Cultural Institution in Paris, Italy and Vienna
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Pages205-220
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781317014140
ISBN (Print)9781409438793
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

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