Tag Archives: travel writing

The book, the photo and the stork

Photos move us. They enable us to travel virtually to wherever the scene is captured. They also move us by provoking emotions unleashed by the picture. Travel photography illustrates this double power especially clearly as Giorgia Alù argues in her just-published Journeys Exposed: Women’s Writing, Photography and Mobility (Routledge, 2018). The writers and photographers analysed (Melania Mazzucco, Ornela Vorpsi, Monika Bulaj, Carla Cerati, Elena Gianini Belotti and Anna Maria Riccardi) are variously related to Italy: Italians, Italophones, migrants or expatriates to Italy, or through hyphenated adjectives of nationality, as Italian-American or Italian-Australian. The book begins with an anecdote recounted by Karen Blixen. During a stormy night a man has to go out to fix a leakage in his pond’s dam. He stumbles around, falls over, and takes wrong paths but next morning he sees that the tracks his boots have left in the mud trace the outline of a stork. The stork provides an unsuspected unity for his apparently random movements but one which only becomes visible a posteriori and from a distance. Such traces expose the form of movements, underlying or unintended, in lives, texts and photographs but, like photographs, the form requires the technical processes of exposure to be seen.

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Topographies of Identity

51dimkclgel-_sx331_bo1204203200_In her contribution to the recent volume edited by Patrizia Sambuco Italian Women Writers 1800-2000: Boundaries, Borders and Transgression (2015) Rita Wilson explores topographies of identity along frontiers (borders mark clear divisions; frontiers, the unstable meeting-place of differences). She considers the novels (I cristalli di Vienna (1978), Caffè specchi (1983), Angelo a Berlino (1987)) by Giuliana Morandini, in particular how and why her protagonists feel themselves to be outsiders present in but distanced from the Central European capitals where they live. She pursues the theme of partly alienated observers, disenchanted flâneuses in their city’s streets, in the novel Amiche per la pelle (2007) by Laila Waida, born in India but living in Trieste.  In the same volume Patrizia Sambuco examines how in Nel paese di Gesù. Ricordi di un viaggio in Palestina (1899) and Lettere di una viaggiatrice (1908)  Matilde Serao handles two further kinds of boundary-crossings: journeys into unfamiliar societies and the then unconventional role of women as travellers.

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In the TLS of November 6

TLS_Cover_November_1189764mThis week’s Times Literary Supplement (6 November) has several items to interest Italianists. Joe Farrell reviews Tim Parks’ A Literary Tour of Italy, describing it as ‘an invitation to share enjoyment, bringing a narrative brio to the summary of works unlikely to be known to English-language readers’.  David Collard notes a new translation of Sam Dunn è morto (1917) by Bruno Corra (1892-1976), a briefly Futurist author for whom the reviewer borrows the description ‘a figure of major minorness’. For Venetophiles and anyone who has an urge to follow complete strangers wherever they lead, Lucy Scholes signals the appearance of a new edition – ‘a beautiful work of art in itself’ – of Sophie Calle’s Suite Vénitienne, originally published in 1983.

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Egypt, Jerusalem, Libya: Departure and Desire in Italian Women’s Writing

7e691395-4ce5-4204-a0b8-a994f7053800Patrizia Sambuco (Monash) will give a talk in English on ‘Egypt, Jerusalem, Libya: Journey through Italian Women’s Writing, 1890-1930’ at the Italian Cultural Institute, 233 Domain Road, South Yarra on Thursday 14 May at 6.30pm (admission free but reservation essential). The talk will tell the story of two Italian women writers, Matilde Serao and Pina Ballario, and the record of their encounters with people and places in the Middle East. At the beginning of the 1890s Matilde Serao was a solo traveller to Egypt and Jerusalem and published a travel book of her journey, Nel Paese di Gesù, which enjoyed extraordinary popularity. Pina Ballario, during the fascist period, wrote a successful novel, Fortuna sotto vento, set in colonial Libya. Both books represent the spirit of their time (pilgrimage and the Orient for Serao, and fascist ideology for Ballario) but have now almost faded into obscurity. Continue reading

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