Giuseppe Mazzotta, Yale Professor of Italian Wins Award

On December 1, 2001, the “Ignazio Silone International Prize” was awarded to Giuseppe Mazzotta, the Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of Italian and Chairman of the Department.

A native of southern Italy, Mazzotta grew up in Toronto and received his Ph.D. from Cornell. He joined the Yale faculty in 1983.

Mazzotta has written about every century of Italian literary history, but he is particularly associated with the literature of the Italian Renaissance and the 18th-century Neapolitan thinker Giambattista Vico.

In fact, his two most recent books are dedicated to the Italian Renaissance (“Cosmopoiesis: The Renaissance Experiment,” University of Toronto Press, 2001) and to the poetic philosophy of Vico (“The New Map of the World: The Poetic Philosophy of Giambattista Vico,” Princeton University Press, 1999).

“The New Map of the World” is being translated into several European languages.

Other books by Mazzotta include “The Worlds of Petrarch”; “Dante’s Vision and the Circle of Knowledge,” which was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 1993; and “Dante, Poet of the Desert: History and Allegory in the Divine Comedy.”

According to Mazzotta’s writing, a new world model is emerging. That model is represented and developed by the literary, artistic, philosophical and spiritual traditions of Italian culture. “It is a culture shaped by the heritage of Rome, Dante, the Renaissance, and, more recently by the work of Giambattista Vico,” Mazzotta says.

The Ignazio Silone prize is in its tenth year. It is traditionally assigned to men and women of letters, novelist, essayists, poets and scholars whose work tackles the moral issues of our time in the spirit of Ignazio Silone’s writing. Silone (1900-1978) was an internationally known novelist, short story writer and journalist, most widely recognized for his two novels “Fontamara” and “Bread and Wine.”

“Silone’s own work sought to draw the contours of a new world in terms of a dream of the universality of human freedom,” Mazzotta said. “I am proud to have received this prize. I am also aware, however, that it goes beyond the question of personal achievement. The prize is important, above all, because it acknowledges the value of our way of thinking about literature and the vital role it will increasingly play in our culture.”

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