Vigano`, Renata (1900–1976)
poet, journalist, and essayist, Renata Vigano` began her precocious literary career with two volumes of poetry. Her most influential work, however, remains L’Agnese va a morire (1949), a novel that tells the story of Agnese, a working-class woman who joins the partisans. Winner of the 1949 Viareggio prize, the novel is a paradigmatic neo-realist narrative that succeeds in combining an unadorned literary style with the rhythms of everyday speech.
The world L’Agnese represents is rooted in Vigano`’s own experience as a Resistance fighter and is also shaped by her engagement with Marxism.* Ag-nese’s expanding political consciousness as depicted in the novel does not result from intellectual probings—she lacks the necessary education—but comes about through her experience of life under Fascism and a (presumed) proletarian affinity with Marxist principles. While L’Agnese documents women’s roles in the Resistance, and does so much more thoroughly than
books by male writers like Italo Calvino,* Cesare Pavese,* or Beppe Fenoglio, it also endorses conventional notions of virtuous femininity. Figured as an earth mother (by association with the Po valley landscape where the story is set), Agnese is not only nurturing, but loyal and self-sacrificing as well. Typical of neorealist narrative, the novel portrays immoral female characters who, in opposition to Agnese’s virtue, prostitute themselves to the Fascists.
Later texts furthered Vigano`’s investigation of women’s experience; notable in this regard are the
essays of Mondine (1952) and Donne della Resistenza (1955), as well as fictional works like Una storia di ragazze (1962), which describes the efforts of female characters to become self-sufficient.
See also: Fascism; Neorealism; Novel: Realist.
Bibliography: Battistini, Andrea. Le parole in guerra. Lingua e ideologia dell’Agnese va a morire. Bologna: I. Bovolenta, 1982; Re, Lucia. Calvino and the Age of Neorealism: Fables of Estrangement. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1990; Palumbo, Matteo. ‘‘La fiaba della storia: L’Agnese va a morire di R. Vigano`.’’ In Les Femmes ecrivains en Italie aux XIXe et XXe sie`cles. Ed. Marie Anne Rubat de Merac. Aix-en-Provence: Universite´ de Provence, 1993. 151–69.
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Neorealism Until quite recently neorealism, a set of largely European cultural practices including but not limited to prose narrative, film, poetry, and theater, was considered the post-World War II artistic expression of the Resistance experience. The desire to recapture all the while refashioning what Giovanni Verga* first outlined in the preface to his I Malavoglia (The Food The presence of food in literature and especially in the novel is an unsurpassed realistic referent of life. It sets the socioeconomic context of the story, the cultural, aesthetic, religious, geographical, and political valence of the characters. It also signals a gendered representation.
The relationships women establish with food in literature traditionally underscore their gendered role Bulifon, Antonio (1649–1707) Antonio Bulifon deserves a mention here for his editorial activity in favor of women writers. He was born in the Dauphine´, France, and moved to Naples in 1670. Here he set up a printing firm that specialized in travel books, histories of the city, and sixteenth-century lyric poetry, with special attention for women’s work. In Tradition Primarily a negative concept for Italian feminists, who originally joined in denouncing the various tactics deployed by the literary and political establishment to assign pejorative value to women’s writings, activities, and desires and to promote the myth of a neutral, universal way of thought and being that was, in essence, masculine. In reaction to this Feminist Theory: Italy Italian feminism, both as a political and as a cultural force, is committed to the analysis and rectification of the material and symbolic oppression of women. The movement has rekindled a militant tradition associated with the emancipationist and reformist battles fought at the turn of the century by Socialist and Communist women and has secured
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