Murder And Media In The New Rome: The Fadda Affair

Hardcover | January 19, 2011

byT. Simpson

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This book explores a sensational crime and trial that took place in Rome in the late 1870s, when the bloody killing of a war hero triggered a national spectacle. A young southern wife’s murder of her impotent soldier husband exploded into the first great “media circus” in the new nation of Italy. The trial of the widow and her acrobat lover shocked the young nation not only with its gruesome details, but also because masses of women flocked to the court, took sides and heatedly reacted to testimony, as a new generation of newspapers exploited the scandal to enchant an untapped readership. Largely ignored by historians, the Fadda Affair, as it was called, crucially shaped the young nation’s self-image, but it still resists reduction to historiographical formula, even as its raucous messiness presages the postmodern centrality of performance and the displacement of substance by sensation.

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This book explores a sensational crime and trial that took place in Rome in the late 1870s, when the bloody killing of a war hero triggered a national spectacle. A young southern wife’s murder of her impotent soldier husband exploded into the first great “media circus” in the new nation of Italy. The trial of the widow and her acrobat ...

Tom Simpson is Distinguished Senior Lecturer in Italian at Northwestern University.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:278 pages, 8.5 × 5.51 × 0.03 inPublished:January 19, 2011Publisher:Palgrave Macmillan USLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230108369

ISBN - 13:9780230108363

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Table of Contents

The Crime and its Coverage * Journalism in Rome after National Unification * Chronology of a Circus Trial * The Killer, the People, and the Weeping Widow * "In Corte d'Assise" * King and Quartermaster: The Battles of San Martino * "…to liberate Italy from the Italians…" * Poor Giovanni Fadda * Circus * Characters 

Editorial Reviews

“In this imaginatively yet scrupulously researched study, Simpson turns an ephemeral scandal of adultery and murder into a tool with which to reconstruct the intersecting, evolving realms of a national public life which collided in early post-Risorgimento Italy. The so-called ‘Fadda Affair’ becomes a prism through which are reflected (among other things) trial by jury all’italiana, the emergence of popular scandal-mongering journalism, the myths and social realities of the Italian military, the role--or lack thereof--of women in the public sphere, the rise of the circus as popular entertainment, and the violent clash of North and South. Simpson tells his tale brilliantly and wisely, and in the process gives us a unique new window onto the disconcerting spectacle of Italy, and Italians, in the making.”--Albert Russell Ascoli, Terrill Distinguished Professor, University of California, Berkeley  “Supported by meticulous research and insightful analysis of varied contemporary sources, Murder and Media in the New Rome is an informed study of ‘the first great media circus’ in the new Italian state. Simpson examines the Fadda trial as the stage where participants and audience enacted wider social, cultural, and gender conflicts. This book offers a fascinating study of how numerous interpreters such as painters, novelists, poets, lawyers, and especially the new media protagonists--the newspaper reporters--depicted these conflicts in varying and meaningful ways. Written in an eminently readable prose-style that captures vividly the drama of murder and its aftermath, this book provides an original discussion of a now-forgotten event that gathered mass attention in late nineteenth-century Italy. In doing so, it furnishes a glimpse of a whole period of Italian history that is generally overlooked in the English-speaking world.”--Cristina Della Coletta, Professor of Italian, University of Virginia