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

Lauret, Maria Don DeLillo's Italian American: the early short stories and Underworld. In: Da Cunha Lewin, Katherine and Ward, Kiron (eds.) DonDeLillo:contemporary critical perspectives. Contemporary Critical Perspectives, n.a. (n.a.). Bloomsbury, London, New York, Oxford, New Delhi, Sydney, pp. 95-110. ISBN 978-1-3500-4086-1/4087-8/4088-5

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In recent years Don DeLillo has increasingly identifi ed
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-fi rst-century fi ction. 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
refl ection 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: 29 Jul 2020 12:33
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2020 12:33

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