Unspeakable Women: Selected Short Stories Written by Italian Women During Fascism

Overview


   Despite the misogynist ideology of Italian Fascism, and contrary to the picture drawn in the most post-war literary histories and anthologies, the 1920s and 1930s were a time of wide publication and both popular and critical recognition for female authors in Italy. Focusing on the cultural pages of three major daily newspapers of the period, Robin Pickering-Iazzi discovered a wealth of contributions by famous and less-known woman that have been unavailable to readers in Italy as well as the ...
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Overview


   Despite the misogynist ideology of Italian Fascism, and contrary to the picture drawn in the most post-war literary histories and anthologies, the 1920s and 1930s were a time of wide publication and both popular and critical recognition for female authors in Italy. Focusing on the cultural pages of three major daily newspapers of the period, Robin Pickering-Iazzi discovered a wealth of contributions by famous and less-known woman that have been unavailable to readers in Italy as well as the United States for over 60 years. Expertly translated, these 16 stories are evidence not only of the high literary quality of this body of work but also of resistance to the self-sacrificing ideal of the "New Woman" of Fascism. The memorable female characters in Unspeakable Women adopt a varying strategies to create their own identities and agency regarding writing, sexuality, marriage, and family-all in opposition to the repressive norms of the culture. The stories are by Grazia Deledda, who won the Noble Prize for Literature in 1926, Maria Luisa Astaldi, Gianna Manzini, Ada Negri, Carola Prosperi, Pia Rimini, and Clarice Tartufari.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although these fictional works admirably show women's experiences of an oppressive regime from the inside, the subversiveness that Pickering-Iazzi (co-author of In Terza Pagina ) claims for them is not always apparent. A cogent introduction explains how women used what little power they had to protest Fascism (one woman claimed to have given birth to fewer children ``to spite Mussolini''). But some of the stories themselves have the unfinished quality of sketches, and most appear to address less the discomfort of being a female under Fascism than that of being a woman at all. Ada Negri's narrator watches as a spirited five-year-old with a commanding manner changes into a dull, blank-faced young woman. Carola Prosperi's Leila is shaken when her soon-to-be husband pushes her to demand money from her parents, then exhilarated when she finds the strength to refuse. Gianna Manzini's Fiore deals with a son who has returned home after two years at university, but who never speaks to her. An afterword examines how the artistic and political stances of women, who wrote prolifically during the Fascist period, led them to be ignored by ``the postwar critical establishment.'' (Nov.)
Library Journal
This selection of short stories, translated from Italian for the first time, represents the work of ten women who were writing in the 1920s and 1930s during the Fascist period in Italy. The most famous of the group is Nobel Prize winner Grazia Deledda. The authors, who differ in age, class, and origin, offer an array of political views. The thread that unites them is their opposition to the Fascists' ideal of women as national figures of traditional motherhood. They instead delineate new possibilities for Italian women as independent and autonomous. When these stories appeared on the cultural pages of leading Italian newspapers at the time, they elicited great sympathy among the female readership. Although ignored in postwar literary criticism, these pioneering women have found a renewed voice in this slim yet important work. Recommended for academic libraries and women's studies collections.-- Mary Ellen Beck, Troy P.L., N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558610637
  • Publisher: Feminist Press at CUNY, The
  • Publication date: 11/1/1993
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 140
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Table of Contents

Chronological Listing of Short Stories
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Grace 23
The Captain 28
Man and Death 32
Sensitivity 38
Baptisms 42
Beyond the Labyrinth 47
Fog 53
The Movies 58
A Boy 63
Portrait of a Country Woman 68
The Pomegranate 74
A White Cloud 79
A Drama in Silence 82
Discordance 87
Woman with a Little Girl 91
A Life Story? 95
Afterword 101
Works Cited 115
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