From Margins to Mainstream: Feminism and Fictional Modes in Italian Women's Writing, 1968-1990

From Margins to Mainstream: Feminism and Fictional Modes in Italian Women's Writing, 1968-1990

From Margins to Mainstream: Feminism and Fictional Modes in Italian Women's Writing, 1968-1990

From Margins to Mainstream: Feminism and Fictional Modes in Italian Women's Writing, 1968-1990

Synopsis

Lazzaro-Weiss studies the fiction of twenty-five contemporary Italian women writers. Arguing for a notion of gender and genre, she runs counter to many Anglo-American and French feminist theorists who contend that traditional genres cannot readily serve as vehicles for feminist expression.

Excerpt

This book has two goals. First, it aims to examine the variety of relationships in the making between feminism, feminist theory, and contemporary Italian women’s narrative prose. Second, it provides a literary framework through which one can appreciate the differences among contemporary Italian women writers and the innovations these differences introduce into the Italian literary tradition as these women create a tradition of their own. Therefore, although the primary focus is on narratives written in the last twenty years, for the purpose of comparison, some older works written by both men and women will be included. While some of the works analyzed here are written by proclaimed feminist writers, many others are not. Some are published by small feminist publishing houses, others by the larger, mainstream companies.

The idea for this book began to take form in 1984 while I was teaching a seminar on autobiography and society at the Universitä Saarbriicken in what was then West Germany. In the seminar we examined how male writers of canonical autobiographies implemented literary themes, stereotypes, and forms to describe their selves, their writings, and their relationship to language and society. We concluded the seminar with some recent examples of Italian feminist autobiographical writings, expecting to find in them obvious examples of how these traditional generic forms could no longer function as explanatory patterns for female experience, behavior, or even ethics. However, as I showed in an article published in Italica in 1988 (which appears here as part of Chapter 3), literary techniques and generic conventions stubbornly reappeared in these feminist works as well, in such a way that it was not possible simply to argue that these conventions silenced or marginalized female voices the way patriarchal laws, written or unwritten, excluded women. Dacia Maraini and Armanda Guiducci, the two writers under discussion, successfully used literary forms and conventions to give voice to themes specific to them as women in a distinct . . .

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