This book is on Paola Masino who wrote prolifically during the Fascist dictatorship. She belonged to the European and international intelligentsia of the time and her work was widely read and reviewed. Her short stories were published in the most prestigious Italian literary magazines and her first novel Monte Ignoso was awarded the 1931 Viareggio Literary Prize. Paola Masino's narrative explores the realm of myths, allegories, dreams and hallucinations in order to break down the boundaries between rationality and irrationality and to expose the fundamental contradictions and limitations of reality. Life and death, the alienation and the tragedy of modern man, the changing realities of the traditional nuclear family, as well as the exploration of women self-representation and identity, are the dominant themes in her narrative. Masino's discourse challenges patriarchal authority and the representation of models of femininity by putting into question the ideology of the woman-mother/caretaker of family and angel of domesticity promoted by the Fascist regime. Masino's work was never censured by the regime. However, because of her strong experimental writing - from surrealism to magic realism, from the absurd to the grotesque - her narrative was qualified as "defeatist," and she was personally criticized for "writing like a man." Paola Masino's official literary production stopped shortly after WWII when Massimo Bontempelli, her life companion, fell ill. A well-known member of the Academy of Italy, Bontempelli died in 1960 and Masino dedicated the rest of her life to the publication and organization of his literary legacy. There is no doubt that Masino's contributions have been overshadowed by Bontempelli's stature and preeminence. However, Paola Masino is truly an avant-garde writer whose talent, complex style and independent voice fully contribute to the literature of twentieth-century Italy.
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Louise Rozier holds a D.M.L, Italian and French from Middlebury College and a M.A. in French from the University of Arkansas. She has been teaching Italian at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville since 1993. Her translation of Fortunato Pasqualino's The Little Jesus of Sicily, published in 1999, was awarded the 1996 PEN Renato Poggioli Translation Award.Review:
"[This book] is an important research on a significant female writer little known to the public." - Dr. Antonio Vitti, Wake Forest University Casa Artom, Italy; "Rozier's manuscript is a significant critical contribution to Paola Masino's work and will definitely foster more interest in this 20th century female writer. In her chronological study of Paola Masino's narrative works, Rozier's critical approach aims at identifying and analyzing the main and central themes of Masino's writing and thought. The critic explains how Masino's interest on the contemporary women condition is only a platform for her metaphysical and existential reflections on the painful absurdity of the human condition and destiny. This reflection will bring awareness of the isolation and suffering of the individual, but it will also suggest new values and models of communication to illuminate the true essence of life. Masino's reality (and writing), however, is at the same time tangible and objective but also surreal as it is also based on the unconscious and is surrounded by a mythical and allegorical context. In her description of everyday life (the "quotidiano"), Masino establishes a new relation between fantasy and reality, and integrates the magical and fantastic components with the realistic elements. Rozier's book is extremely well-documented, bibliographically sound and exceptionally clear. Her chronological and thematic excursus of Masino's works gives the reader an outstanding insight of 20th century literary movements and sheds a new light on the author's life and on the works analyzed. The book exhibits solid scholarship, excellent critical skills, with abundance of details, and cross references to other authors/movements in both an Italian and a European context. I highly and unconditionally recommend its publication in The Edwin Mellen Press." - Salvatore Bancheri, Associate Professor of Italian, Department of French, German and Italian, University of Toronto, Toronto"
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