Constructing the Self in Language and Narrative: The Work of Grazia Deledda

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Grazia Deledda was a Sardinian author from the turn of the last century who has been greatly neglected in the academic world. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1926, and yet she has received very little attention, particularly by scholars in the English speaking world. I believe that this is largely due to a misclassification of her work by academics of the time and since. This volume argues that Deledda represents the beginnings of modernism in Italian literature, as her work spans the end of verismo which preceded her, and yet also displays a modern sensibility similar to more famous authors associated with the movement like Luigi Pirandello.

The volume approaches Deledda from an entirely new perspective in that it focuses upon the crisis of identity in Deledda’s work, and its construction in the narrative of her novels, and its integral relationship with the theme of language. The theoretical framework of Julia Kristeva, Paul Ricoeur and Adriana Cavarero enables an innovative study of identity as a linguistic and narrative construct in Deledda’s work. I maintain that Deledda’s characters construct, control and understand their identities through their application of language or their command of narrative perspective, voicing their inner selves through linguistic self-expression.

This study engages in a close textual analysis of three of Deledda’s key texts. La madre (1920) and Il segreto dell'uomo solitario (1921) illustrate Deledda’s movement away from verismo. Their protagonists suffer a crisis of identity which is bound up in linguistic expression and/or narrative control. Cosima (1937), which is Deledda’s most autobiographical text, displays the author’s close affinity with her writing. Creating a fiction of her own life, Deledda becomes both narrator and protagonist, self and other in the exploration of her own identity, which is integrally connected to the act of writing. The very composition of this text demonstrates the construction of identity in language and narrative which is illustrated within Deledda’s other works.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLeicester
Number of pages221
ISBN (Print)9781788039857
Publication statusPublished - 03 Dec 2018


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