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Writing for Freedom

Body, Identity and Power in Goliarda Sapienza's Narrative


Alberica Bazzoni

Sicilian writer Goliarda Sapienza (1924–1996) is increasingly regarded as a central figure in modern Italian literature, especially with the international success of her masterpiece L’arte della gioia [The Art of Joy]. This book offers an in-depth analysis of Sapienza’s major works, identifying their main themes and central poetics, and establishing her originality and significance within the context of twentieth-century Italian literature.

The study follows Sapienza’s autofictional journey from the painful reconstruction of the self in Lettera aperta [Open Letter] and Il filo di mezzogiorno [Midday Thread], to Modesta’s rebellious adventure in L’arte della gioia, to the playful portrayal of childhood in Io, Jean Gabin [I, Jean Gabin] and, finally, to the representation of prison life and queer desire in L’università di Rebibbia [Rebibbia University] and Le certezze del dubbio [The Certainties of Doubt]. Themes of freedom, the body, nonconformist gender identities and sexuality, autobiography and political commitment are explored in connection to a variety of philosophical discourses, including Marxism, feminism, psychoanalysis and queer theory. From a position of marginality and eccentricity, Sapienza gives voice to a radical aspiration to achieve freedom and social transformation, in which writing and literary communication are conferred a fundamental role.

This book was the winner of the 2015 Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in Women’s Studies.

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