Marking out some unique turf in the burgeoning literature on 20th-century Italian women’s autobiographical writing, Fanning focuses on female subjectivity in both fiction and overt self-writing by “real women”—that is, specific women authors. Bridging the gap between fictive and overtly nonfictional self-writing, the author borrows Lilian Furst’s concept of a “porous interface” between the two: each subject is fully embodied in her unique biographical conditions and specific political and social culture, and embedded within the literary scene in her unique career and preoccupations, but all are perceived as sharing a common struggle over the course of a revolutionary century—i.e., the struggle to use writing as a means of self-making. Thus the first movement in this rather symphonic assembly of voices becomes a kind of biographical tryout, in which Fanning establishes for each considered author (Sibilla Aleramo, Grazia Deledda, Anna Banti, Natalia Ginzburg, Francesca Sanvitale, Fabrizia Ramondino, to name just a few) a discrete "presence" across genres on dominant themes (e.g., father, mother, marriage, motherhood) before joining her to other common themes and forms and allowing her to reemerge whole again, shaded by her unique, subjective, embodied difference as a writer. Italian quotations are translated parenthetically, a welcome practice that allows one to appreciate the grace and precision of Fanning's English.
Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty.
This precious book by Ursula Fanning embarks on a courageous journey [of] reconnaissance and discoveries among the folds of feminine autobiographical writing [in] Twentieth century Italy. . . . Very useful as a handbook. . . this book by Ursula Fanning constitutes a point [of] essential reference in gender studies and research on autobiographical form in the twentieth century. [translated from original Italian]