Women and violence in Italian literature

The journal Spunti e Ricerche has published Women and Violence in Italian Literature (2018, vol.33), a special issue edited by Gregoria Manzin and Barbara Pezzotti. The nine contributions draw on examples mainly from 20th century novelists (Maraini, Albinati, Patti) but include discussions of a play (Dacia Maraini’s Passi affrettati) and poetry (the works of Margherita Guidacci). Also addressed is the place of gender violence in Federico De Roberto’s novels (I Viceré, L’imperio, Ermanno Raeli)  the portrayal of violence in religious schools in colonial Somalia by postcolonial Italo-Somali authors (Scego, Ali Farah), and  the representation of female characters in the crime fiction series by Scerbanenco, Lucarelli, and Verasani. Although the contributors don’t neglect the socio-political context of the works they analyse, their primary emphasis is mostly on the texts themselves – the narrative strategies employed, the embedding of violence in the relations between male and female protagonists, the ways in which the representations of particular acts – the delitto del Circeo, the bombing of Bologna railway station – depict the general role violence plays in everyday life. Overall, the discussions contain valuable insights into the descriptive and often deceptive powers of Italian fiction; they also push us to understand the implications – and perhaps the consequences – of literary treatments of violence better than we have been able to grasp so far.

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