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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — A Woman by Sibilla Aleramo. A Woman by Sibilla Aleramo ,. Rosalind Delmar Translator. For a book that sent shock waves through the European literary establishment and, since its original publication in has gone through seven editions along with highly acclaimed translations into all the principal languages of Europe, A Woman Una Donna by Sibilla Aleramo has remained curiously obscure in America.
Aleramo's lightly fictionalized memoir pres For a book that sent shock waves through the European literary establishment and, since its original publication in has gone through seven editions along with highly acclaimed translations into all the principal languages of Europe, A Woman Una Donna by Sibilla Aleramo has remained curiously obscure in America.
However, whether one liked Aleramo's novel or not, the book was an iceberg in the mainstream of Italian literary life, impossible to get around without careful inspection.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published March 16th by University of California Press first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about A Woman , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. Sort order. Start your review of A Woman. But I sometimes tormented myself by thinking of the book that needed to be written; a book about love and sorrow that would be both harrowing and inspirational, relentless and compassionate; that would show for the first time what it was really like to be a woman now, and that for the first time would inspire in those unhappy brothers of ours, men, both remorse for the past and desire for a better future.
In lots of ways this book is dispiritingly familiar: what makes it extraordinary is the But I sometimes tormented myself by thinking of the book that needed to be written; a book about love and sorrow that would be both harrowing and inspirational, relentless and compassionate; that would show for the first time what it was really like to be a woman now, and that for the first time would inspire in those unhappy brothers of ours, men, both remorse for the past and desire for a better future.
In lots of ways this book is dispiritingly familiar: what makes it extraordinary is the fact that it was published in - yes, that isn't a typo, ! In a form that we might term autofiction today, Aleramo's unnamed narrator tells of her childhood; her unsatisfactory marriage at the age of 15 view spoiler [it's not completely clear whether her future husband rapes her but there's certainly, at the minimum, assault and so she's coerced into marriage to safeguard her 'honour' hide spoiler ] , everyday violence and abuse, till she finds her escape through writing for a feminist journal.
But things are complicated by motherhood and Aleramo is at her most shocking, for the time, when she questions whether the conventions of self-sacrificing mothers are really good for anyone - still a controversial topic today, how much more so in Catholic Italy at the start of the twentieth century?
This reminded me strongly of Plath's The Bell Jar written over 50 years later see, that's what I mean about dispiriting Intimate, personal, bold and fierce, written and translated in fluid prose, this is a revelation that so many of today's feminist concerns were already on the agenda in Many thanks to Penguin for an ARC.
View all 12 comments. Aug 06, Kristin rated it it was amazing. This book is incredible. It's known as Genesis in the Bible of feminism, and yet is apparently not widely known in the United States.
This was written in by an Italian woman who had to choose between her little boy and freedom from a husband who raped her and beat her. It's such a reminder of what feminists have done to ensure women now have rights — the right to divorce cruel men and the right to have custody of their children. But this book is also amazing because, despite being written i This book is incredible.
But this book is also amazing because, despite being written in , she candidly discusses the taboo issues of rape, affairs, venereal disease and divorce. An author today would have seemed very brave to write this book — but to write it in is astonishing. Thank you to Sibilla Aleramo for her strength and courage to tell her story. View all 3 comments. Feb 03, Gabrielle Dubois rated it it was amazing Shelves: female-authors , 19th-century. A show that the soul jealously welcomed and harbored.
This was not the great revelation: that was t "Time and space seemed to me to be fluid, carrying me on their stream; I was the Wandering Humanity, the aimless Humanity, yet inflamed with ideal: the Humanity enslaved by some laws and yet driven by a rebellious will to break them down, to make an existence free from them This was not the great revelation: that was the underground work of the germs which already have the presentiment of the heat of the sun, and fear its perfect splendor, while desiring it.
The words flowed, serious, almost solemn: I managed to define my psychological state, I asked my suffering if it could be fruitful It was the only time in my life that I wished to find Faith in a Divine Will, and I waited for it with my hands joined.
And in this invocation there was all the despair of a mind feeling weak, exhausted, at the very moment when it sees a long way to go My tears flowed, abundant, liberating.
Finally, I accepted in myself the hard duty of walking alone, of struggling alone, of bringing to light all that rose in me stronger, more pure, more beautiful. At last I blushed my useless remorse, my long, sterile suffering, the disaffection in which I had left my mind as if I had hated it.
Finally, I tasted the flavor of life And love will make her a slave chained by and to her husband. Should she follow the example of all these women, "bloody symbols of the vanity of sacrifice, terrible examples of the punishment that falls on every conscience that denies itself. Was not I one of them? The reasoning and the intimate assurance were not enough for me. I had continued to belong to a man whom I despised and who did not love me: in front of others I wore the mask of the satisfied wife, legitimizing in a certain way this ignoble slavery, parising to the skies a monstrous lie.
For my son, not to run the risk of being deprived of my son. And now, the last cowardice that has defeated so many women, I thought of death as a liberation: I resigned myself to leave my son so I could die: I did not have the courage to lose him so I could live. You can read Wikipedia!
Oh no! You would miss the most powerful, the sweetest, the deepest, the touchiest, the greatest story. You would miss an understanding of women and of the world that would be missing in your life. You would miss out on a woman's life that explains the lives of women.
Never has a book touched me as much as this one. Sibilla Aleramo, a mother, a woman, a human being, very human. View 1 comment. May 18, Stephanie Jane Literary Flits rated it liked it. See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits Sibilla Aleramo is widely acclaimed as Italy's first feminist author with her autobiographical novel, A Woman, being, I think, her best known work so when I spotted this new Penguin English language publication I knew I had to read the book, if only for its historical significance.
Happily, I felt that the writing had aged well. I was strongly reminded of Caroline Norton's real-life battle to gain access to her children after finally leaving See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits Sibilla Aleramo is widely acclaimed as Italy's first feminist author with her autobiographical novel, A Woman, being, I think, her best known work so when I spotted this new Penguin English language publication I knew I had to read the book, if only for its historical significance.
I was strongly reminded of Caroline Norton's real-life battle to gain access to her children after finally leaving her marriage some seventy years earlier in s England, which I learned about through reading Roaring Girls by Holly Kyte and Difficult Women by Helen Lewis. It's both amazing and depressing to realise that A Woman was first published years ago - amazing that I am able to read and relate to Aleramo's words after such a long time has passed; depressing that there are still women trapped in identical situations today.
In A Woman, our narrator marries in ignorance at sixteen having convinced herself that the man who raped her must have done so for love and, now that he has 'made her a woman' she is obliged to stay with him.
Caught between a cultural tradition that teaches women should be satisfied with just home, children and church, and subject to her controlling husband's increasingly frequent paranoia and violence, the Woman who is really still emotionally a child herself withdraws into herself. She shows clear signs of what we would recognise today as PTSD and depression, which grow worse as she is forcibly confined to one room in her house, a situation eerily similar to that in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper although at least here the Woman does have her infant son in whom to confide and the decor is pleasing.
A Woman veers between descriptions of daily life and philosophical musings on the role and purpose of women, both of which I found interesting, however these aspects are padded out with a lot of self-centered woe-is-me introspection that soon became just a little tiresome. I do appreciate that rushing depressed people is not remotely helpful, and A Woman accurately portrays her fluctuating descent into a very dark mental place. Unfortunately, for this heartless reviewer anyway, too much repetitive detail doesn't make for good fiction.
There is a long section in the middle where the Woman reflects on her predicament and the penny drops that she is reliving her mother's life her mother has been driven to an asylum by this point. She yo-yos between desperately needing to grasp intellectual independence for her own sanity while being equally desperate not to abandon her young son.
Because, of course, she cannot legally rescue both herself and her child. He is his father's property and the father stakes personal pride far above his son's emotional well-being. I am glad to have had this opportunity to read A Woman. I believe it is an important part of the feminist canon and should easily be as well known as The Yellow Wallpaper or The Awakening by Kate Chopin.
Aleramo's questioning the assumption that marriage and, especially, motherhood should so take over women's lives that they have nothing left of themselves is still an extremely relevant and vital discussion today. A Woman does show its age in its style, but I appreciated how this novel simultaneously shows how far women have advanced and how much is still unchanged from this snapshot of life over a century ago.
Mar 08, Debbie Robson rated it really liked it.
The Modern Novel
Sibilla Aleramo born Marta Felicina Faccio , Alessandria , 14 August — Rome , 13 January was an Italian feminist writer and poet best known for her autobiographical depictions of life as a woman in late 19th century Italy. Aleramo was born as Marta Felicina Faccio a. At 11, she moved with her family to Civitanova Marche , where her father had been appointed manager of a glass factory. Unable to continue her education beyond primary school, Aleramo continued to study on her own, seeking advice from her former teacher about what to read. While employed in the same factory where her father worked, she was raped in an empty office room by Ulderico Pierangeli, a co-worker ten years her senior, when she was only Rina did not tell her parents about the event, and when Pierangeli asked for her hand, she was persuaded by her family to marry him.
A Woman by Sibilla Aleramo review – groundbreaking
If you think that Elena Ferrante wrote the first Italian feminist autobiographical novel, you are nearly a hundred years out of date. This novel was first published in , though probably written three or four years previously, and certainly set the tone for literary feminism in Italy. Indeed, it is almost certain that Ferrante read this book and Italian literary critics have compared the two. Though not well-known in the English-speaking world, though it has been translated into English and is readily available in English translation, it is well-known in Italy and elsewhere in continental Europe. Aleramo gives us a straightforward autobiography but it is told from a feminist perspective and she freely comments on issues that arise in her life.
Was this what all women were destined for? When her carefree, aspirational childhood in a seaside town is brought brutally to an end, the nameless narrator of Sibilla Aleramo's blazing autobiographical novel discovers the shocking reality of life for a woman in Italy at the dawn of the twentieth century. As she begins to recognize the similarities between her own predicament and the plight of her mother and the women around her, she becomes convinced that she must escape her fate. Unashamed and remarkably ahead of its time, A Woman is a landmark in European feminist writing. The first Italian feminist novel Sibilla Aleramo , the pseudonym of Marta Felicina Faccio, was an Italian author and poet best known for producing some of the first feminist writing in Italy and for her autobiographical depictions of life as a woman in late nineteenth-century Italy. For the latest books, recommendations, offers and more.