‘Half Sign, Half Ad’: Literary and Commercial Functions of Paratextual and In-Text Titles in the Novels of Pietro Chiari
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionItalian Studies. 2017, 72 (1), 58-79. 10.1080/00751634.2017.1287255
This article builds on studies by Claude Duchet and Franco Moretti on the function of novel titles as literary and commercial signifiers, but argues that the scope needs to be extended further, to what we may call paratextual and in-text titles: book titles that appear in prefaces and within novel texts. The article examines a set of novels written by Pietro Chiari (1712-1785) that makes use of such title references. In the early stages of his novel production, Chiari mobilised French and British novel titles in an appropriation of these novelistic traditions. The Brescian writer then gradually abandoned the project of appropriation and began to reference only his own titles. Thus, the use of paratextual and in-text titles primarily took on an advertisement function. The article argues that these title references are embedded into a marketing strategy based on establishing a serial aspect to Chiari’s novels.