International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

The Doctor as Poet – The Poet as Doctor Trauma, Therapeutic Autobiography and the Power of Literature
Dagmar Reichardt

This paper deals with literature as therapy within the context of the new migrant literary scene in Italy and the legacy of Giuseppe Bonaviri (1924-2009), a doctor, health officer and cardiologist who was also a prolific poet and author of novels. After examining Italy’s hybrid origins and the trauma of migration from a literary point of view, I will give a brief overview of italophone migrant literature and common pathologies of migration in artistic terms. Using his professional skills as a physician in literature, the Sicilian writer Bonaviri identified himself as a migrant in order to better diagnose this character on the one hand, while on the other he tried to identify cultural and literary therapies for the illnesses of migration and, thus, of an individual –i.e. psychological– as well as social –i.e. collective– tedium of life. Bonaviri’s transcultural humanitas, the importance of cultural roots and his suggestion of autobiographical writing as therapy will be read in contrast to his fellow countryman Luigi Pirandello, also a continental migrant from Sicily, with the intention of showing not only the cathartic effect of Bonaviri’s texts, but also the significance of literature and writing for overcoming sociocultural conflicts and personal crises.

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