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The Pleasure of Writing: Critical Essays on Dacia Maraini

Edited by Rodica Diaconescu-Blumenfeld and Ada Testaferri

One of contemporary Italy's best-known writers, Dacia Maraini has often been a figure of controversy as author and as cultural critic. Although she is the recipient of numerous literary awards, Maraini's work has not received the sustained critical attention it deserves. Working and creating "dalla parte delle donne" ("on the side of women"), she has been effectively excluded from the Italian critical canon. This volume attempts to redress this injustice.

Maraini was born in Florence in 1936 and spent part of her childhood in Japan. As a young child, near the end of World War II, she was imprisoned with her family, who were anti-Fascists, in a concentration camp in Japan. She began her career in 1962 with the novel La vacanza (The Holiday, 1966). A committed activist, she speaks out for women through her works and opposes the gender roles that repress women and open them to abuse and violence. Novelist, poet, playwright, filmmaker, journalist, and cultural critic, Maraini is the recipient of numerous literary awards. Her most famous works include Donna in guerra (1975; Woman at War, 1989), La lunga vita di Marianna Ucrìa (1990; The Silent Duchess, 1992, 1998), and Voci (1994; Voices, 1996).

Featured in this volume is Maraini's own analysis of women's writing and the dynamic of denigration that refuses to acknowledge its value: "Reflections on the Logical and Illogical Bodies of My Sexual Compatriots." Fourteen essays by an international group of Italianists--utilizing a wide spectrum of interpretive perspectives, from semiotics to psychoanalysis--treat the full range of Maraini's works.

The Pleasure of Writing offers access to the complex pleasures of reading Dacia Maraini and proposes her oeuvre as a concrete response to the question of the enduring cultural values of politically committed art.

This volume is recommended to both Italianists and feminist scholars and students, as well as to readers concerned with the ties between literary theory and textual analysis.

"The essays collected in this volume firmly and eloquently position Maraini within the canon by highlighting the extraordinary range of her work while exploring the feminist ideology informing her texts.... While these essays address and employ theoretical positions ranging from semiotics to psychoanalysis, they remain refreshingly free of jargon and are therefore accessible even to nonspecialists. The volume has been attentively edited: the essays exhibit a consistency of tone often difficult to achieve in a collection of such disparate approaches.... This collection of lucid and thoughtful essays is a 'must have' for scholars of Maraini, as well as those interested in feminist and cultural studies." Laura A. Salsini, Modern Fiction Studies

For the complete review, see Modern Fiction Studies 47.2 (Summer 2001): 515-17.

"This is a well-conceived, thought-provoking and informative collection of essays on one of Italy's most original and influential contemporary writers.... One of the many highlights of the volume is Maraini's essay on women's writing and the bias against women's writing on the part of literary scholars.... [T]he essays are of consistently high quality and interest.... The Pleasure of Writing goes a long way towards addressing this neglect [of Maraini's work] and makes an invaluable contribution to Italian studies." Joann Cannon, Italica

For the complete review, see Italica 78 (2001): 118-19.

"This is one of the few works and certainly the first exhaustive volume about a writer and intellectual who has marked and shaped Italian feminism with her irreverence, intellectual acumen, intelligence, and revisionist agenda." Graziella Parati

"This valuable work treats the full range of Maraini's production as novelist, poet, playwright, filmmaker, journalist, and cultural critic." AATI Newsletter

For the complete review see AATI Newsletter, Fall 2000.

"Questa bella raccolta di saggi su Dacia Maraini fa parte della collana 'Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures.' Si tratta di un ottimo contributo nel campo non solo degli Women's Studies ma dell'italianistica in generale; e questo sia per l'argomento (era ora che comparisse un tale studio sulle opere della Maraini), sia per la qualità dei saggi, dell'apparato bibliografico e della veste editoriale. La scelta della lingua inglese come veicolo è stata senz'altro saggia, ma ci si può e ci si deve augurare che quest'opera possa apparire prestoanche sugli scaffali delle librerie e delle biblioteche italiane." Cinzia Di Giulio, Annali d'Italianistica

For the complete review, see Annali d'Italianistica 19 (2001): 435-38. For an online version, click here and search for the title.

For another review, see Reference & Research Book News 1 Aug. 2000.

Rodica Diaconescu-Blumenfeld, Vassar College, has published a study of Gadda's Pasticciaccio and articles on Marco Risi, Lina Wertmüller, and Gianni Amelio, and European cinema.

Ada Testaferri, York University, has edited and co-edited works on Italian women and the cinema and has published articles on Boccaccio and on women's issues.

2000. Vol. 20. x, 277 pp. Cloth $29.95 PRICE REDUCED

Information last updated June 24, 2015

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