Grazia Deledda's Dance of Modernity

Grazia Deledda's Dance of Modernity

MARGHERITA HEYER-CAPUT
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 320
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442688179
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    Grazia Deledda's Dance of Modernity
    Book Description:

    Grazia Deledda (1871-1936) was the author of many influential novels and remains one of the most significant Italian women writers of her time. However, critics tend to pigeonhole her works into convenient literary categories and to ignore the uniqueness of her style and voice.Grazia Deledda's Dance of Modernityoffers a timely and thought-provoking interpretation of this Nobel laureate, examining her work in the context of European philosophical and literary modernity.

    Margherita Heyer-Caput takes a philosophical and philological approach in order to provide a reassessment of Deledda's position in the literary canon. At the same time, she raises the larger issue of the status of allegedly 'regional' or 'minor' literatures within the context of Italian modernity. Dealing with four novels representative of Deledda's vast corpus, Heyer-Caput addresses and dismantles elements ofregionalismo,verismo, anddecadentismo, labels with which Deledda's works are regularly associated. This is the first volume to introduce some of Deledda's overlooked texts to an Anglophone audience. It invites readers to overturn established critical categories and to question margin-centre hierarchies both in the broad context of literary modernity and the narrower frame of Deledda's writing.

    Grazia Deledda's Dance of Modernityis a highly original and innovative interpretation of Deledda's narrative in philosophical perspective, which also includes the study of textual variations and considers cultural history in Italy during the early twentieth century. It is a much-needed examination of an important writer and how she managed to construct her own literary and gender identity in the context of modernity.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8817-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)

    In a thank-you letter of 1920 to Sardinian artist Mario Mossa De Murtas, who had presented the already renowned writer with one of his paintings portraying a procession of the different traditional trades of their native island, Grazia Deledda wrote:

    In questa casa tanto lontana dal chiasso e dalla confusione di Roma più che se io non fossi rimasta nella mia lontana casa in Sardegna, vivo tutta dedita alle tanto disprezzate faccende domestiche, curandomi di mio marito e dei miei figli nelle ore non consacrate al lavoro. Perché ho il mio orario di lavoro che osservo. Non mi affido agli...

  5. 1 ‘On the Way’ to Modernity: La via del male
    (pp. 21-94)

    This chapter is devoted to an in-depth-analysis ofLa via del male[The Path of Evil(1896, 1906, 1916)], a novel often defined by critics a ‘spartiacque’ [watershed (Turchi 1994: 9; Dolfi 1984: 10; Capuana 1973 [1898]: 97)] between Deledda’s early writings, imbued with late Romanticism and provincial feuilleton heroes, and the mature productions, acclaimed for the intense folkloric atmosphere and the deeply moral conflicts of their characters. However, a close reading of the text will highlight its significance not as a divide but as a bridge between Romanticism, Verism, and modernity in Deledda’s literary journey.

    The focus of our...

  6. 2 The Transgressive Rewriting of the Novel of Formation: Cenere
    (pp. 95-153)

    In the present chapter I argue that the novelCenere[Ashes(1903, 1904, 1910)] represents a transgressive rewriting of the novel of formation in the spirit of modernity. The boundary-breaking significance of writing in itself, on which Deledda would elaborate in the posthumous autobiographical novelCosima(Migiel 1994: 113), is enhanced through the intertextual texture ofCenere. For the first time, after exploring the theoretical issues of positivistic determinism in her early prose, and particularly inLa via del male, Deledda instils Nietzsche’s subversive thought in her narrative.

    Moreover, the fact that this novel generated a creative synergy between the...

  7. 3 Active Nihilism and Nietzsche’s Uebermensch: Il segreto dell’uomo solitario
    (pp. 154-187)

    Il segreto dell’uomo solitario(1921) belongs to Deledda’s late works, such asLa danza della collana(1924) orAnnalena Bilsini(1927), dislocated in the symbolism of psychological landscapes that have left the Sardinian topography behind. Paradoxically, while Deledda’s major novels have often been targeted for their restricted and folkloric identity, her less Sardinian novels have been criticized for the opposite reason, as duller expressions of the archaic culture that nurtured Deledda’s narrative (Sapegno 1971).

    My analysis ofIl segreto dell’uomo solitariointends to point out one of the possible reasons for this shift in critical appreciation. This reason, I argue,...

  8. 4 Passive Nihilism and Schopenhauer’s Contemplator: La danza della collana
    (pp. 188-242)

    In a letter of 20 May 1923 to young writer Marino Moretti, Grazia Deledda, already internationally known and soon to be awarded the Nobel Prize, dwells on the silent pleasure of the ‘solitudine volontaria’ [voluntary solitude] that she enjoys in her sheltered Roman backyard. There, she savours the ‘felicità vegetale’ [vegetable happiness] of her assiduous creative work, in which her ‘pensieri sono fili di strane erbe che si muovono al vento, i palpiti del cuore le foglie della robinia che si staccano ad una ad una dal ramo’ [thoughts are strange blades of grass moving in the wind, while heartbeats...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 243-272)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 273-290)
  11. Index
    (pp. 291-314)