Date of Completion

Spring 5-9-2010

Thesis Advisor(s)

Norma Bouchard

Honors Major



Italian Literature


Alessandro Baricco is an Italian author, pianist, journalist and music critic, among a wide range of many other talents. His novels have won great critical acclaim in Italy and France and are popular around the world. While generally considered among the postmodern writers, some critics have accused him of being a forerunner in a 1990s movement dubbed letteratura giovanile, that is juvenile literature that is simplistic, targets a young audience and is created for the sole purpose of making money. This criticism is unwarranted. Baricco is a multitalented author who pays strict attention to the quality of his work and weaves plotlines replete with a diverse set of genres, literary devices and symbolism, often inspired by other great writers and thinkers. However, literary critics have yet to acknowledge one of Baricco's strongest and most important influences: Homer, the ancient Greek bard and author of the epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Taking Baricco's work in a Homeric context can aid in viewing it as valid and important work, worthy of scholarly discussion and interpretation, rather than, as some critics accuse, a one-dimensional story meant only for children. This paper will argue that Baricco's work is Homeric and, in fact, Baricco's implementation of many of Homer's devices, such as his understanding of his audience and use rhythmic language and stereotyped story patterns, has aided Baricco's great success and popularity.