Volume 52, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1876-9071
  • E-ISSN: 2214-5729


Silvio Pellico’s prison memoirs, (1832), and his moral lessons for the youth, (1834), are mainly remembered for their implicit political influence as an inspiration for the Italian Risorgimento and for the intimate description of the most difficult years in Pellico’s life. However, the religious dimension of both books and the description of the rediscovery of the Catholic faith were considered more important by Pellico himself. This article puts this religious aspect centre stage. It analyses the reception of the Dutch translations of these works within the cultural and religious debates that took place in the confessionally divided Netherlands of the nineteenth-century. A national-liberal interpretation can be identified alongside more Orthodox-Protestant and Catholic ones, each emphasising aspects in Pellico’s work that could fit their specific cultural agendas. This polemic confirms that nineteenth-century literary debates in the Netherlands were more influenced by ideology than aesthetics. The debate around and faded away around 1840 without a clear conclusion in favour of a specific interpretation. Two new translations of followed in 1896 and 1906 but they did not provoke much discussion, not even in Catholic periodicals, although they were the work of Catholic translators. After 1906, Pellico – and certainly his religious message – mostly disappeared from the cultural horizon of the general public. By then, he had already been included in a Dutch Catholic canon.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Catholicism; Italy; reception; Silvio Pellico; translation
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