Writing to Delight: Italian Short Stories by Nineteenth-Century Women Writers

By Antonia Arslan and Gabriella Romani

© 2006

The nineteenth century represents a crucial historical and cultural phase in the development of modern Italy. Writing to Delight provides a selection of short stories written by some of the most accomplished and acclaimed female authors of nineteenth-century Italy, made available to an English-speaking audience for the first time through this translation. The stories that make up this anthology are written in a realistic vein and describe the life and concerns of women at a time when Italy was going through major social and economic changes. Imbued with didactic aims, the authors of these stories strove to inspire and at the same time educate their public.

In this regard, Writing to Delight also serves as an instrument for a critical investigation of both the cultural productions of nineteenth-century Italy and the process of formation of modern Italian identities. With the growth of the middle-classes and a more diffuse literacy among the population, women became a visible and conspicuous social force as consumers of cultural goods, such as books and newspapers. Many of the writers included in this anthology - Matilde Serao, Marchesa Colombi, Neera, Contessa Lara - were not only very successful writers of fiction but also worked as journalists for some of the main national newspapers of the time. They were well acquainted with their readers' tastes and expectations and made such awareness an integral part of their creative process. Their fiction thus reflects the many topics and concerns that informed the social and cultural debates of nineteenth-century Italy.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Italian Studies
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.9in x 0.5in x 8.8in
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Quick Overview

Writing to Delight also serves as an instrument for a critical investigation of both the cultural productions of nineteenth-century Italy and the process of formation of modern Italian identities.

Writing to Delight: Italian Short Stories by Nineteenth-Century Women Writers

By Antonia Arslan and Gabriella Romani

© 2006

The nineteenth century represents a crucial historical and cultural phase in the development of modern Italy. Writing to Delight provides a selection of short stories written by some of the most accomplished and acclaimed female authors of nineteenth-century Italy, made available to an English-speaking audience for the first time through this translation. The stories that make up this anthology are written in a realistic vein and describe the life and concerns of women at a time when Italy was going through major social and economic changes. Imbued with didactic aims, the authors of these stories strove to inspire and at the same time educate their public.

In this regard, Writing to Delight also serves as an instrument for a critical investigation of both the cultural productions of nineteenth-century Italy and the process of formation of modern Italian identities. With the growth of the middle-classes and a more diffuse literacy among the population, women became a visible and conspicuous social force as consumers of cultural goods, such as books and newspapers. Many of the writers included in this anthology - Matilde Serao, Marchesa Colombi, Neera, Contessa Lara - were not only very successful writers of fiction but also worked as journalists for some of the main national newspapers of the time. They were well acquainted with their readers' tastes and expectations and made such awareness an integral part of their creative process. Their fiction thus reflects the many topics and concerns that informed the social and cultural debates of nineteenth-century Italy.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Italian Studies
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.9in x 0.5in x 8.8in
  • Reviews

    Writing to Delight represents an extraordinary contribution to 19th century studies, offering translations of texts that are indispensable in teaching 19th century Italian and European culture. Arslan and Romani have chosen highly representative short stories, and I could not agree more with their choice of authors and texts. This is an exciting and important book that fills a void in the scholarship.’


    Graziella Parati
    Department of French and Italian, Dartmouth College

    ‘By recovering the lost masterpieces of Italian women writers, Writing to Delight adds significantly to the burgeoning field of canon revision in Italian studies. These carefully selected short stories, which have not previously been available in English, attest to the rich literary and cultural legacy of Italian women writers, and illustrate convincingly and often poignantly the restrictive ideal of female domesticity so prevalent in 19th century Italy. This is an extremely significant work.’


    Laura Salsini
    Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, University of Delaware
  • Author Information

    Antonia Arslan has been a Professor of Modern and Contemporary Italian Literature at the University of Padova.



    Gabriella Romani is an associate professor of Italian at Seton Hall University.
  • Table of contents

    Gabriella Romani
    Introduction Scenes from Nineteenth-Century Italy:
    Delightful Stories on Those Long, Long Winter Evenings

    Matilde Serao
    Checchina’s Virtue

    Neera
    Paolina
    Aunt Severina
    The Lady of the Evening

    Marchesa Colombi
    Winter Evenings
    Learn a Trade for a Rainy Day
    Dear Hope

    Caterina Percoto
    The Bread of the Departed
    The Caning

    Contessa Lara
    The Coral Necklace

    Virginia Olper Monis
    Woes of the Middle Class

    Bruno Sperani
    Scorn for Life

    Afterword Ladies, Chickens, and Queens: The Strong Voices of Italian Women Writers
    ANTONIA ARSLAN

    Bio-Bibliographies of the Authors

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