Autobiography and Narrative Resilience

Autobiography through Anecdotes in Joe Pieri’s Isle Of The Displaced




anecdotes, fictionalisation techniques, Italo-Glaswegian identity, World War Two


Associated with such life writing genres as (auto)biographies and memoirs, anecdotes are described as stories which “illustrate particular ideas, concepts, and views of the way a life is lived, making considerable editorial commentary on the nature of a particular ideological moment and the effect of that moment on individual lives.”(Encyclopedia of Life Writing) Anecdotes thus focus on, and highlight, episodes of a person’s life by transforming them into tales and stories using fictional narrative techniques and suspenseful plot twists.

Having emigrated from Italy to Scotland at the beginning of the twentieth century and established his fish and chip shop in Glasgow, Joe Pieri was then interned and turned into an “enemy alien” on the day Italy declared war on Britain in 1940. In Isle of the Displaced, his book about this traumatic event, Pieri turns the most marking aspects of his journey to, and life in “Camp S” in Canada into a series of witty and comic anecdotes. This paper focuses on the definitions and history of anecdotal theory in order to analyse Pieri’s fictionalisation strategies and the way these stories function as a psychological dam in times of crisis, in addition to re-inscribing these important events in British and Italian histories. The main contention of this article is that the appeal of fiction increases during life’s most difficult times mainly thanks to the imaginative and tragic-comic powers of literariness.

Author Biography

Souhir Zekri Masson, University of Tunis

Souhir Zekri Masson holds a PhD in English Studies from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow (Scotland) and is currently Assistant Professor at the Higher Institute of Applied Humanities of Tunis. Her main research areas include life writing theory, postcolonial theory, women’s postmodern fiction, gender studies and spatial theory. In addition to articles published on these topics both in Tunisia and abroad, her PhD has been published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing as a book titled Mapping Metabiographical Heartlands in Marina Warner’s Fiction in July 2019.





Autobiography and Narrative Resilience