Goliarda Sapienza, the outsider·The Italian Files
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Thea 0:02
In 1976, after writing and editing it for nine years, Goliarda Sapienza finished a novel, she wrote it entirely by hand working on it for hours and hours every day. rejected by publishers as a pile of iniquity. The manuscript remained in a drawer for almost 30 years until a German publisher decided it was a masterpiece. Word quickly spread. Today the art of joy is something of a classic in Germany, France and Italy and maybe on its way to the same status in the UK. But who is Goliarda Sapienza. Hello, and welcome to the Italian files a series of conversations about lesser known protagonists, themes and stories of Italian culture, society and history. ISBN and ethics. Today, we're going to look at the life and work of the writer good yet this again. So with our guest, the researcher Alberica. Alberica Bazzoni is a research in the fields of modern Italian literature and literary theory, feminist, queer and decolonial studies, and the author of writing for freedom, body identity and power in Goliarda disappearances narrative. I'm very pleased to say she's with us now. Alberica, ciao.

Alberica 1:12
Hello, ciao.

Thea 1:13
Let's start with a pretty massive question then can you can you paint a quick picture of Sapienza and says life, you know, where? And when was she born into what kind of family and what were some of the main incidents that that shaped the woman and the writer she became.

Alberica 1:26
So Sapienza is quite an extraordinary figure not only for her writing, but also for her life. And her life and writings are very intertwined. So her life is quite relevant to everything she writes. She was born in Sicily, in Kenya, in 1924. into quite an unusual family for the time and probably also for today, in the sense that she was the last daughter of a couple that had many, many kids from previous marriages and unions. And she so she was living with many siblings, in this house in Catania. And her father was a lawyer, and her mother, Maria Giudice, was one of the most important socialist and feminist activists of the time. And we have to think that the context surrounding this quite unusual household was that of Catholic and fascists. Yeah,

Thea 2:28
I mean, it's almost impossible to dwell on this this chapter too long, because it was, it was so formative, I mean, one of the stories and you'll probably tell me this isn't true by I hope in my heart that Gramsci babysat her and her older siblings at one point. I mean, it was this kind of amazing nonconformist, feminist anti fascist, as you said, anti clerical environment.

Alberica 2:48
Yes, before moving to Sicily, Maria Giudice. Spencer's mother was living in Turin and collaborating with Gramsci. She also was friends with many Russian exile. So also quite close to international socialist discourse and political activism to which Sapienza was exposed from the very beginning from her early days, kind of really breathing in in the air, the social, feminist worldview.

Thea 3:17
Then she was removed from the formal school system because her father didn't want her parents didn't want her to be indoctrinated by Mussolini's fascist propaganda, which was obviously central to the way that people were being taught in schools. So she was homeschooled, she joined the partisans and all of this, she then took with her, you know, going, going on in her life. And as she got older, the word that was a Roman years in the from the 50s. What happened there?

Alberica 3:41
Exactly, there's something very important that happens in her life when she's 17. She wins a scholarship from the academia that dramatic acting school in Rome, and she moves to Rome with her mother and becomes an actress. So acting is perhaps the second big element in her life. So she was she started up her artistic career in theatre. And this was interrupted due to the war where as you as you mentioned, she was fighting as a activate as a partisan. And then after World War Two, she resumed her career as an actress. But this came to a point of crisis when she was in her late 30s and 40s. And she went through a very dramatic depression, and tried to kill herself twice. And because of this, the law was very different back then, with mental health. So she was subjected to electroshock therapy, which partly caused her to lose her memory. And it took her years to recover and it is with in those years that she started writing. So writing was both her second life somehow coming back to life after this crisis. and also the tool to recover her memory and her sense of self. So this was perhaps the third big event that marked her life.

Thea 5:11
And some some happier times followed. Then there was a marriage with Angela Pellegrino, who will see played a key role in in championing her work. But he was 22 years. I think that's right. 22 years younger. So it was quite a scandal. It was I mean, not that it would have been had it been the other way around. Of course,

Unknown Speaker 5:27
actually. It's hard to assess at this time, what role this new relationship played in her life, because something very big has happened in the meantime, in that is that she started writing her major novel, The Art of joy. And this new relationship with Angelo Pellegrino came a little bit later, it wasn't the biggest scandal, to be fully honest in her life, in the sense that

Thea 5:53
there were quite a lot of scandals, I suppose

Unknown Speaker 5:55
exactly, it was quite a scandalous life for a woman of her time in Italy. And we can call them happier times in the sense that she did recover. And she did engage in the writing of this fantastic novel, which then became her masterpiece, The Art of Joy. But then, in during her lifetime, she didn't get really the recognition that we are paying today. And this led her to another crisis, let's say in her life, and unable to publish the art of joy, out of money and growing more and more distant from the intelligentsia from the elite intellectual elites of the Roman circles, sheets, fields jewellery from a friend, in both an act of desperation, a provocation. Gala, Sapienza was clearly quite unusual. And she was imprisoned for this she was arrested. So she spent some time in prison, it's not clear how long because, after that experience, she writes a fictionalised account of of the of that time in prison where it seems like it's much longer when it was actually probably just a few days in prison. But this is not clear.

Thea 7:19
Whether it was a short period or whether it was a matter of days or longer, the kind of the amount of important work that came out of it is is really interesting. And we will we'll come to the the work that was born of that time in a bit but I'm curious about her final years because you know, this is a woman who as you suggested wasn't really accepted in her lifetime, didn't have the success that she might have had went to prison. So how then were her last years spent? What you know, when she died? What What was the kind of life like then?

Alberica 7:50
Yeah, after prison, and that was really the big scandal of her life, what she did was continuing writing. She was quite poor. She was teaching acting in an acting school in Rome. And then she always continued writing but without really ever becoming a successful author. At some point, she was nominated for this public funding scheme that exists in Italy for poor artists, but she couldn't be selected for this. It's called like athletes who are lifelong pension, poor, poor artists, because she had been to prison. So she wasn't eligible for that. So she spent her last years between Rome and Gaeta, where she had a tiny house, and she would just retreat that to write and swim in the sea, which was her big passion. And she died in 1996 falling off the stairs alone in her house. So we cannot ever really talk about big success that her joy in life was always writing. And she did that your her last days.

Thea 9:10
Also, I mean, the joy and the scandal. We've said that word a fair few times scandal. So let's talk about the Art of Joy, because that is, you know, in inverted commas, it's a scandalous book and a great deal of the experience of the observations that she made along the way in her life, kind of filter into that that book, her best known book. So can you tell us a bit about about that novel? I'd be interested if you could describe the writing itself as well.

Alberica 9:38
That's noeasy task, because it's also a very big novel over 500 pages. But I'll do my best, it was received as a scandalous novel, but it is not, I think, intended as a scandalous novel. It is intended as a very honest, novel, and the utter joy laughter The joy Yeah, in the original title is about a female protagonist called Modesta. Modest, quite an ironic name because she is anything but modest. Who was born on the first of January of 1900, already quite a symbolic statement the first day of the century. And this protagonist goes from being a poor orphaned child subject to violence. To be she went to good goes from that becoming a very independent, successful woman, Anti Fascist, we are having relationships with men, women, some at the same time developing a very interesting, rebellious intellectual discovery and trajectory, encountering all the major events of the 20th century. And growing into an independent free woman so the Art of joy is really about the journey of self discovery, and a battle a constant struggle for freedom. Now, this being said, this can sound very scandalous I guess,

Thea 11:25
there's an incident with a nun for one thing, and there's some incest as well, isn't there. So I can imagine that those those gatekeepers.

Alberica 11:31
I don't want to give too many spoilers, because it is very important there's masturbation, there are homicides, there are nuns being killed. So there's a lot happening. And I have to say that sometimes something that is not really perhaps understood fully of this novel is a thefantastic ironic vein that it also has. So he always gestures to these coming of age novels of the 18th century with nunneries. And monks, nuns and these poor girls, and it's almost a programmatic subversion of all these tropes. So there's also a very literary irony at play there.

Thea 12:23
I mean, she was she was clearly steeped in that writing, she almost did a real study of it to be able to ionise it so so fluently?

Alberica 12:32
Absolutely. She was self taught. And we have seen and with this theatrical background as well, and all this plays a major role in how she wrote the art of joy, including this Irene says that she could really appropriate a literary tradition and make what she wanted with these, perhaps without the weight of a formal education into university into academic discourses on writing. She used that marginal position that she had to really make whatever she wanted. She wasn't rewarded for this.

Thea 13:09
Yeah, I mean, I was gonna say is that why do you think is it is that why scandal aside of the plot, all of that aside, is that why do you think that it was so hard for the book to find an audience. I mean, its route to publication was was and we'll talk about this at length as we go on, but it was not an easy one is was Italy, just not ready for that kind of fingerpointing? I suppose

Alberica 13:32
it's, of course, many factors at play at the same time. And something we haven't mentioned yet is that the Art of Joy wasn't published during Sapienza's lifetime, it was only published posthumously. So she never saw it in print. And one of the reasons is for sure, this scandalous plot of The Art of joy, with one important detail the fact that it was written by a woman because there is no shortages of scandalous novels written by men but that was not acceptable in Italian society of the times by a woman

Thea 14:11
and a woman who was an outsider, as you say, she didn't have a formula to get a formal education. She wasn't kind of probably connected in the way that might have helped her.

Alberica 14:21
In some sense this is a bit of a mystery in the sense that she was connected. She was friends with major intellectuals of the time, she was an actress in Viscounti's fields. She was friends with Pasolini. She was friends with Morante. So major names in the Italian literary establishment of the time, but she was an outsider within that circle as well, which was very strongly influenced by a communist agenda. And Sapienza was a rebellious radical left wing, but more on the anarchist side. So that is also a factor we have to think of, on the one hand of the perhaps Catholic conservative components of society and at the same time the left wing agenda agenda to which Sapienza was not fully subscribing. And she wasn't the only woman writer of the times to encounter similar difficulties we have to say. So it's something that women writers of the time shared.

Thea 15:22
I mean, in a sense, I mean, to put it bluntly, she was pushing for she was exploring a kind of a new kind of freedom, a freedom of a different nature, wasn't she so she was she was exploring that in the way that she lived, but also in what she wrote about so maybe I'm wondering if we can kind of unpick the nature of that freedom because one of the ways that she that she explored it was was through the body and the character of Modesta.

Alberica 15:49
Absolutely, freedom is really at the core of what she's doing in all her writings. And it is not an easy concept, that is, this is not an easy that ethical value also perhaps to reconcile with society. And this is the context that her characters all go through with the social context and these are mirrored in the context that Sapienza or herself had to endure with her own social contexts. And this freedom isreally the starting point in the art of joy, but also in her other works in the body, and what we mean by the body and the senses a very bodily embodied search for freedom. So it's the reappropriation of one's own body. And we cannot, I think, underestimate how powerful this is coming from a woman starting to write in, in the 50s and 60s and 70s. It was a strong statement claiming agency over one's own body and one's own desire. The elements of the erotic is fundamental in all her writings, and it was probably what was what was absolutely unacceptable at the time, a woman claiming her rights to pleasure in all forms, which go from the sexual to the intellectual, so pleasure, really, in all its meanings in all its nuances. And this idea of freedom starts on the individual level, is a process of deconditioning. Sapienza, in her writings and in the art of joy, takes issues at basically all discourses of her time, whether it is Marxism, psychoanalysis, Catholicism, religion, patriarchy, the family, everything that comes as a social structure, she takes it and turns it upside down, takes it apart questions, it investigates to find new ways of inhabiting the world. So it starts on an individual level, but then it's it's deeply intertwined with society, it's never the freedom of an individual in isolation

Thea 18:19
totally a very, very clear case of the personal being, being political. Perhaps unsurprisingly, for such a radical, as you said, she did do time in prison, although it wasn't really for the politics. It was because of this theft of her friends jewels. And but can you can you tell us what happened? You know, what came of those years in terms of the writing these these books that were born of that experience?

Alberica 18:45
Yes, so she was imprisoned in the 80s. And then two books came out of that experience, L'Università di Rebibbia, the University of Libya, Libya, being the name of the prison where she was kept. And Le certezze del dubbio which would translate is not translated, but it would translate as the certainties of doubt. And I will just go back to the first for a second, the first thing said like she was in prison just for poverty, actually, Sapienza is extraordinarily ambiguous and this and you can never really pin down one reason over the others because she also states that she went to prison out of a desire or testimony to discover the world of prison, but also because poverty, but also because of provocation.

Thea 19:35
I read that it's interesting this this point. I mean, it might sound strange that she said she she sort of wanted to go to prison because, she said it's through going to prison or to hospitals or to into asylums that that's how you really get to know your country. And it's true that her her mother had been to jail too. So I wonder if these things really you know, they must have shaped her ambition in a sense.

Alberica 19:55
Absolutely her her mother went to prison. Her father went to prison. Many of her siblings went to prison. One of them died in prison because they were antifascist activists. So we have to consider that coming from this background, for Sapienza going to prison was no shame. It was a rite of passage, it was an almost a step in life, where you would discover another aspect of society and bring testimony to it. And she always said that she felt she belonged more in prison, in the sense of the people who are in prison, the marginalised, the poor, the exploited. she creates almost a mythology out of this prison experience. She felt closer to this, this world, the margins, rather than the highbrow intelligence, or intellectual needs, the outside world, let's say. So this elements of like, why she went to prison is very ambiguous. And again, there is an element of irony always. There are some interviews available publicly on YouTube, where she answers the question of why she went to prison in so many different ways somehow. And in this she also records Pirandello, who was one of her major sources of inspiration saying how impossible it is ultimately to fully know why we do things. And she always goes back to this humoristic answer when she's asked why she went to prison. So for sure policy provocation, also, looking for something new in her own vital journey, she was feeling quite low. And somehow prison was a new discovery, she took it as an adventure. She wrote about it as an adventure.

Thea 21:56
And you can see that it sort of became a cog, one of the many cogs in her, in her kind of view, her way of understanding society and politics and kind of animating herself against it. In a way many of her observations and experiences of prison do seem to anticipate arguments that are only now gaining momentum in Italian society and elsewhere for for the abolition of the carceral system for example. I mean, is it is it too much to suggest that she was an early proponent of that kind of social change? I've seen her. She was on a television programme, surrounded by her by really grim faced ageing men, talking about her prison experience and trying to get them to see to see it the way she had seen it. And it was quite a painful experience to watch her trying to make her point and not being able to get it to land.

Alberica 22:50
Yes, that interview encapsulates really Sapienza's issues with the society of her time with all these men in their suits and ties, citing statistics about prisons. And she talking about her own experience about what it could mean for a 18 year old, poor girl to be in prison surrounded by other women, and the lived experience of prison as a transformative experience. And really there's impossible communication somehow between the world of those men, and what's the peons is trying to convey? And what is what she's trying to convey and what she writes about in the University of Rebibbia, and the certainties of doubt. I think that it's difficult to answer the question of abolitionism, in the sense that she never really talked about that, but she is very attuned to the ambivalences of prison, in the sense that she sees how in prison, things that cannot happen outside can happen inside: communication between different social classes, communication between different generations. So she sees somehow a form of revolutionary potential that is locked in prisons. At the same time, she sees fully how prison is not this rehabilitating institution in the service of justice, but it's a humiliating institution. And she describes it as an institution that is instrumental to normative society, so to the rich and to the idea of the norm of what is normal and what is not. So almost in moral ethical terms she really sees it as an oppressive and an oppressive institution in the service of power in the way Michael Foucault talks about it. So in this sense, perhaps Yes, she would become be counted as a precursor of abolishing the castle system.

Thea 25:06
I mean, it's pretty clear I think that she It seems she didn't really recognise the separation between life and work. I mean, she in one of her novels, meeting in Positano, I think it is, which is one of the few that's translated into English. She says something along the lines of life as a novel that hasn't been written, you know, if we leave it buried inside of us, and I believe in literature, she said, so that kind of encapsulates that that idea of them being made of the same stuff than the life and the literature. And there are loads of fine lines that go from life from the life to the work and one of those is I think, hybridity is a kind of a shunning of classification in terms of the way she lived and wrote, do you know, it's kind of like art imitating life like a facet of that nonconformism and that she was raised in, you know, anarchism, queerness, her pushing or breaking of the bounds of what's deemed acceptable. That hybridity is central, I think, to understanding her and her work, isn't it?

Alberica 26:02
Absolutely. And there are perhaps two things to highlight here. And one is really, as you said, very, very well, this, the fact that life and art life and writing are inseparable from one another. And most of the Sapienza's literary production is in one way or another autobiographical, but in a very original way, in the sense that she does not only narrate her life, but writing helps her make sense of of her life, she somehow constructs her own sense of self through writing. And I said from the beginning that writing is what helped her recover after these suicide attempts, and electroshock therapy, her first two works, Letter Aperta, open letter and Il filo di mezzogiorno, or Midday threads, record recollections from her childhood, engagement with her own psychoanalytic therapy, and attempts at really finding out what went wrong, this is how she, she put it, so attempted re-writing her own self, through a literary narrative form. In some sense, life and writing, are inseparable, not in the sense that she made a spectacle of her life, but more in the sense that through writing, she constructed her own life. And this hybridity, the second, threading what what she was saying. So the hybridity between art and life, but also, in general, the hybridity, almost as a fundamental way of living, really, Sapienza talks a lot about the contradiction that is at the heart of nature, the fact that it's not possible to and it's not desirable in any way, to fix reality, and to fix society and to fix the self in normative stable categories, for the simple reason, and Sapienza keeps saying this, you know, in all her writings, that life keeps flowing, and so wherever we try to block it into fixed forms, somehow life dies a little. And so this figure of hybridity of constant change, of shimmering identities is really at the heart of writing

Thea 28:44
Identities is a wonderful way to put it, I think, the multifaceted nurse of of every aspect of her and when it comes to her work, it's interesting, it seems fitting that her legacy goes on in that vein, you know, her legacy plays out in other forms beyond the page in dance in theatre. Can you can you give us some examples of this kind of shape shifting or shimmering afterlife?

Alberica 29:09
Absolutely, yes. I think that one of the ways in which this cycle, a shimmering or hybridity inspiration of her writings, really encounters what she encounters today is what has been developed in queer theory and queer activism and queer art. So somehow, beyond sexual identities, beyond queer in the sense of sexual orientation and identity, although this is very much part of her writings as well because she is queer, and she writes queer texts also in terms of queering gender and queering sexuality, but taking this queering beyond sexual identities, there's really an idea of queering in our In a broader sense, precisely this contradictions hybridity. And this has been really fertile for other artists, after her death, sadly, coming to engage with her work, her work is so open ended, because of this core inspiration of openness, hybridity, that many artists from different fields have been able to engage with it and make something else out of it. And I say this because there have been many, many plays, adapting her work, but also adapting her life or putting together her life and her works. And there's been a music album by a Sicilian musician. There's currently a project that I have been recently involved in with two French performers, who are doing a dance and theatrical performance out of a mix of her life, and texts, poetry readings, there have been rewritings have their own works. So it seems like her literary works has been very generative into giving life to other forms of expressions.

Thea 31:23
I mean, that's the positive side, I suppose. The the negative side of her work being deemed unclassifiable, and kind of ahead of its time is that it wasn't published in her lifetime and so it was overlooked for for far too long. Because people couldn't, couldn't place it couldn't pin it down. But the positive side is, is precisely that it gave people a certain freedom to play with it and reinterpret it. And while dance with it, I suppose.

Alberica 31:46
It is a bit sad for her. Sometimes I thinkhow happy she would have been to see that she was actually able to create a very precious legacy, something that she couldn't witness herself at all. But of course, for us, there's a treasure and this treasure is being discovered, reused, appropriated, misappropriated and played by contemporary artists, and also academics, I would include myself here in the sense that I was also able, of course, to study her work for many, many years and write about it and engage with itcompared to other writers, bringing it into dialogue with with other writers and other thinkers.

Thea 32:36
I mean, that's part of the matter of reception, even though it was a slightly delayed reception. But we should focus on that for a moment, because it does tell us a lot about the countries in which she is now known. I think it's interesting to consider her place in Italy compared to France, say where she's actually had much more success, hasn't she?

Alberica 32:56
Yes, and this takes us back also to something we have mentioned in passing, but which is the the history of how L'arte della gioia became the the successful book that it is now. And it's a peculiar story, because it was published in 1998, posthumously, Sapienza died in 1986, in a very small print in Italian, and then through kind of informal channels. It was translated into German, and then into French. And it became a huge success in France. So it's France, really, that launched the fortune of Sapienza's his work. And it's only then after this huge success, that Einaudi, one of Italian major publishers, decided to finally publish the Art of Joy was in Italian, but by then it was 2008. So very, very recent success.

Thea 34:04
that initial step because I mentioned earlier, her partner later in life, Pellegrino on how he played a role in in her discovery or rediscovery, and that was because he decided to have her books. He took her books to a Frankfurt Book Fair, didn't he and sort of like thrust them on people and said, Look, this is what she did you have to read this and that was where a German publisher did pick it up and it all sort of followed from that.

Alberica 34:31
Exactly. It was Pellegrino and Pellegrino was Sapienza's husband, and it was, Mario Baraghini was the publisher of Stampa Alternativa, the first small Italian publisher that believed in in Sapienza as work and also a network of Italian mostly female readers and intellectuals themselves, I think of journalist Adele Cambria, who recently passed was a close friend of Sapienza. And so there was a small network of small publishers and supporters that contributed to this tiny edition arriving into Frankfurt and then being picked up by our bow, this German publisher, which is also by the way, republishing L'Arte della Giai now in a new translation, and translating now, most of Sapienza's other works. And this is also what is happening in France that Nathalie Castagné, Sapienza's translator, is translating almost everything by Sapienza's. And it's interesting that the same is not yet really happening, not with the same degree of enthusiasm in the Anglophone sphere

Thea 36:01
and why? can we hazard to guess as to why that might be any? And obviously, that's a difficult question to answer because it kind of cuts to the, to the root of, of all sorts of things. Whether a society is deemed a society of readers is deemed ready or not, you know, those sorts of questions, but just, I mean, it's interesting to compare how differently she's been received in, you know, Germany, Spain, say in France, of course, and the UK.

Alberica 36:26
Yes, it's very interesting also, just to give the full picture, she was census work is also was also a huge success in Poland, in Greece, in Portugal, in Finland. So she's translated into all major languages, with the UK and let's say the anglosphere being this exception. In the sense that the art of joy was translated in 2013. and published by a major publisher, because it came out with Penguin. So we're not talking about a small

Thea 36:59
I mean, it came out as a modern classic, didn't it? Which is quite an accolade.

Alberica 37:04
yes. it was probably expected to be more of a success than it was. Also, of course, we have to factor in different traditions in translation in the sense that in general English translates less from other languages than minor languages do, of course, so that has to be taken into consideration. But it is interesting that somehow has not perhaps it is just a matter of a delay, or hopefully, it is just a matter of a delay, in the sense that there has been also lots of space somehow occupied in the Anglophone sphere, perhaps by Elena Ferrante. On some level, this has created a huge way of translation of Italian writers, Italian women writers into English. And so Morante has been retranslated or Ortese. all figures who have struggled a lot to find international recognition. And perhaps Sapienza fell in the middle of this wave, and she seems like a very good candidates to follow.

Thea 38:17
Well, I mean, it's interesting, isn't it? And it's kind of risky in a way because if people if there's a tendency to kind of lump 20th century Italian women writers together as a group, and you put it Elena Ferrante alongside Natalia, Ginzburg, and then somewhere around there, and then you read Sapienza, it's, I mean, it's quite a different experience. So you can see that that kind of grouping doesn't just doesn't work. It's reductive and it doesn't actually do a service to any of them.

Alberica 38:46
Yeah, I think you flagged a very important point in this. Also in explaining perhaps the delay in the reception of Sapienza that cannot be easily grouped with these other writers, if the only thing that they really have in common, in the sense of how they can be marketed, is the fact of being Italian women writers, but Sapienza's strength lies elsewhere, would say, and so they would need their own very specific placing somehow, which, yeah, which seems to be working very, very well in other countries.

Thea 39:26
And how is it how is it now in Italy, would you say that she, she has found her home there now, very, very belatedly? Or is it still a struggle she still sort of exists outside of the canon? It's not an easy placement is it?

Alberica 39:39
Everything is very recent, as I said, because the art of joy 2008 so it's only been 14 years of Sapeinza really existing in the public debate and it has been very weak and very powerful the impact that her work has, so she's been studied a lot, many theses, books, conferences. So there is a discovery or rediscovery of her work in process. She's not yet included in the literary canon. There's a there's an element though that in this case, she does share with most other women writers of the 20th century that the canon in Italy is still a very male dominated canon, and so is academia. So the gatekeepers of what enters the Canon are still very patriarchal oriented, let's say so there is there is a wave of efforts, scholars, activists, artists to enlarge to break down this monologist not the candidate say, but it is in the process. So this is it. Perhaps the only really woman writer who has so much space at the moment is Elsa Morante but even for somebody like Elena Ferrante, who's so hugely successful abroad, there's huge resistances in Italy, so Sapienza's work has to battle with these type of prejudices. And there's always this idea that they're minor, that can be admitted, but as minor writers and Sapienza doesn't it as a minor writer, marginal perhaps in the sense of this queerness certainly not minor.

Thea 41:36
I'm just thinking how much Sofia and so I would love that image that you've created there of writers and students and, and artists kind of rising up to take on the monolithic canon on behalf of her. It's a great image. I could talk to you all day. But on a parting note, I mean, what would you want people to read and remember her for? You know, why, why do you think she needs to be read now? And is it the Art of Joy that people should begin with?

Alberica 42:04
It's an impossible question to answer, especially because now we are speaking to an English audience and only the Art of joy and Appuntamento a Positano, meeting in Positano, are translated, I would 100% recommend to start from the Art of Joy. And the the main reason I think I can just really, instead of arguing somehow what is good about the boo,k is what readers have taken from it. And everybody I speak to who have has loved the art of Joy says that it is a reading experience. It's something that really has to do with the quality and the intensity of the writing and the honesty this authenticity of the search for freedom that creates somehow a power transformative experience. it's something that engages the reader in on a very very personal level

Thea 43:01
Well, I think we'll end there with a it's a kind of like a call to our all our listeners to rise up and call for more translations into English of Goliarda Sapienza's work.

Alberica 43:13
Yes, do. It's worthy, I can only say

Thea 43:18
absolutely, I can second that well Alberica Bazzoni, thank you so much for your time today.

Alberica 43:22
Thank you very much for your questions and for having me here. Thanks.

Thea 43:33
That is it for today's episode, you've been listening to the Italian files created by film The Festival of Italian literature in London and supported by the Italian Cultural Institute in London. It was produced by Emily Naylor, more from us in two weeks time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai