From Fact into Fiction: The Short Stories of Renato Fucini

Denis Reidy

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract “From fact into fiction: The short stories of Renato Fucini”

The Tuscan regional writer Renato Fucini (Monterotondo, [Grosseto], 1843-1921 Empoli), an almost exact contemporary of Giovanni Verga (Catania, 1840-1922 Catania), is principally remembered for his two collections of short stories Le Veglie di Neri (Florence: Barbèra, 1882) and All’Aria Aperta (Florence: Bemporad, 1897) which are set in Tuscany, in the Appennino Pistoiese and the Padule di Fucecchio. When interviewed by the literary critic Pietro Pancrazi, Fucini was asked why his stories were so popular? Fucini replied – “Forse è perchè sono vere” – (“perhaps because they are real”). Since Fucini was writing when the naturalism of Zola had been ‘translated’ into “verismo” (realism) by Verga and Capuana, this thesis explores whether Fucini’s statement could be interpreted literally and whether some of the characters and events described in his stories could have actually existed in real life or really did take place. Apart from other formative influences on Fucini, his official school-inspector’s notebooks are examined for extra ‘unofficial’ jottings which formed the ‘DNA’ of some of his stories and an attempt is made to trace and identify some of the real-life characters on whom the stories were based. Fucini’s close and fruitful relationship with the Tuscan proto-impressionists, the Macchiaioli school of artists including Giovanni Fattori, Telemaco Signorini and Francesco Gioli, who produced the first illustrated edition of Le Veglie, (1890) is also examined. Fucini’s major themes, attitude to his characters, their social classes and their interaction and his social engagement are also assessed. To show how accurate and faithful Fucini’s portrayal of life in nineteenth-century Tuscany is in his novelle, his use of language is also analyzed. The thesis is accompanied by illustrations and a Glossary to provide further evidence of the fidelity of Fucini’s Toscanità, and of placing him more prominently within the birth and development of the Italian realist school.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Pieri, Giuliana, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Dec 2015
Publication statusIn preparation - 2016


  • Realism, Giovanni Verga, Renato Fucini, Verismo, Impressionism, Macchiaioli School of artists; Risorgimento, Unification of Italy; Florence the second capital of Italy

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