Naples: Life, Death & Miracles  © 2002-2017       contact:     Jeff Matthews  
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Old Neapolitan Newspapers and Journals

I have a dream. Like most people who enjoy browsing in old magazines and newspapers, I am a big fan of the on-going Digitizing of Everything. I love the idea that I can hit a key and read copies of the North American Review from 1820 on my computer screen. It should all be up there—every last word of all the copies of every major newspaper in the world. (I am willing to pay a reasonable subscription fee.)

How close is that to happening? Not very, at least from my recent experience in trying to read, easily, articles from the Giornale del Regno delle Due Sicilie ( GRDS),  the Journal of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the official organ of the government of the kingdom of Naples in its last 40 years of existence before being incorporated into the modern nation state of united Italy. All the copies exist and they are neatly bound, year by year, on the shelves of various libraries in my neck of the woods, most prominently in the National Library of Naples on the premises of the Royal Palace. The paper is large format, good rag quality, paper still white, and still relatively easy to read.

I had a few lines rehearsed:


Where is the digitized version of the GRDS? Can you put in the search term (X) so I can see all the references to it between 1820 and 1860…uh…please? ” At that point, my dream shades over imperceptibly to the nightmare scene from Stanley Kubrick’s great 1968 science-fiction film, 2001, Space Odyssey, where intrepid spaceman David Bowman has been locked out of the ship and is pleading with super computer, HAL 9000, to be let back in. (HAL is perfect in all things except that he is bent on offing the entire crew.)

Open the hatch, HAL.”

I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”


(The photo, above,  shows Bowman using HAL
to digitize old Neapolitan journals. The film was
science fiction.)


More or less, that would be the librarian’s response, but it would be good for a few laughs and they might even let me look at some bound copies. Or I might try, “Say, you don’t know if there is any outlandishly ambitious plan to actually digitize these pages?  I’ll gladly volunteer a few hours week to hunt and peck my way into the Digitizers Hall of Fame.” (It’ll have to be hunt and peck, I think, because OCR—optical character recognition—on those old pages with their irregular fonts and imperfect type impressions is hopeless.) That would be so nauseatingly ingratiating that it might actually work.

Here are a few books about the journals of the Naples of yesteryear:

—Addeo, Girolamo. (1988) La stampa periodica napoletana del decennio francese. Napoli.
—Battaglini, Mario. (1988) Napoli1799: giornali giacobini. Rome: Borzi ed.
—Toma, Peiro Antonio. (1999) Giornali e Giornalisti a Napoli 1799-1999.  Napoli: Grimaldi & C.
—Zazo, Alfredo. (1985) Il Giornalismo a Napoli nella prima meta’ del secolo XIX, 2nd edition. Napoli: Generoso Procaccini ed.

 
And here are the ones I want to be able to read. Yesterday!

 1799—Republican papers (during the brief six months of the Neapolitan Republic):

Monitore Napolitano [spelling, sic], founded by Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel
Corriere di Napoli e Sicilia
—Giornale Patriotica della Reppublica
—Il Vero Repubblicano

—Il Veditore Repubblicano

1808—Under the French:

Monitore Napolitano  (Pimentel’s journal,  version 2)
Corriere di Napoli

These were both suppressed by Murat and consolidated in 1811 as

 Monitore delle due Sicilie (MDS), published between March1806 and Oct 1815.

 
They were supplemented by

Giornale del Vesuvio
La Gazetta Napolitana

as well as by the first paper especially for women: Corriere delle dame and the first paper that ran nothing but advertising, Il Giornale degli Annunzi.

With the return of the Bourbons after the Congress of Vienna, the MDS changed to the Giornale delle Due Sicilie and then to the Giornale del Regno delle Due Sicilie. In the 1820s, with the constitutional reform, that title changed to Giornale Costituzionale del Regno delle Due Sicilie. During 1820s. amidst the fervor for constitutional government, there appeared, as well:

                                     
La Minerva  napolitana— (an advocate of a united Italy)
La voce del secolo
La amica della costituzione

 
In the 1830s: Il Progresso delle lettere, delle scienze e delle arti  (Progress of letters, sciences and arts) one of among 30 such smaller papers dedicated to the arts and sciences.

The first illustrated feature magazine, Il Nazionale, a supporter of the new constitution and an advocate of a united Italy, appeared briefly in 1848.

see also: Women's Journals of the 19th Century


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