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In Italy, as in most Western cultures, the 1960s was a dynamic and turbulent decade of social change. Dacia Maraini, in this short story collection, explores the vexing, tragic, and often humorous experiences of women living in modern urban Italy.
With a style as lean as Samuel Beckett’s, and a love of the absurd that rivals Eugène Ionesco, Maraini’s stories are both poignant and wickedly funny. The writer’s ironic lens zooms in to examining sexual relations, working conditions, women’s issues, and family dynamics, illuminating the lives of an entire generation. With classic existential angst, Maraini’s characters are often profoundly dissatisfied with their situations, but also ill-equipped to initiate any real change. This feminist version of the absurd is deliciously wry and terrible. The stories have a real bite.
Originally published as Mio marito in 1968, this is the first English translation of My Husband.
Dacia Maraini was born in Florence in 1936. Her father’s profession as an anthropologist and his antifascist stance led the family to emigrate to Japan where, during the war, they were confined for two years in concentration camps. In 1945 the family returned to Sicily and, when her parents separated in 1954, Dacia moved to Rome with her father.
Maraini’s first two novels, La vacanza (The Holiday) and L’età del malessere (The Age of Indifference), published when she was twenty-six and twenty-seven, were instant international successes: the latter received the editors’ international Formentor prize and was instantly translated into twelve languages. In 1990 Maraini sealed her international success with the publication of the novel La lunga vita di Marianna Ucrìa (The Silent Duchess, Feminist Press, 1992) which stayed on Italy’s bestseller list for almost two years and won the prestigious Premio Campiello (Italy’s equivalent of the us National Book Award). It was published to critical acclaim in fourteen languages.
Several of her books have been made into films, and Maraini has also written screenplays for directors like Pier Paolo Pasolini, Carlo di Palma, and Margarethe Von Trotta. She is a prolific writer with more than fifty publications of novels, poetry, and plays. She lives in Rome, actively promoting theatre groups, playing a very active role in the literary scene, and speaking on tv and in national newspapers and magazines on the evolving economic and social conditions of Italian and European women.
Vera Golini emigrated with her family to Canada from Abruzzo in 1956. She has been a professor of Italian studies at St. Jerome’s University since 1975, and since 1997 has also directed the Women’s Studies program at the University of Waterloo. She is currently president of the Canadian Society for Italian Studies.
“In the translation of this collection of Maraini’s short stories, Vera Golini succeeds not only in capturing the spirit of her narrative but also in rendering Maraini’s own colloquial language, with its many nuances, into an English which is accurate, fluid, and extremely easy to read. As one reads these stories, Maraini’s world comes to life and the experiences of her characters become real and believable.”
— Leonard G. Sbrocchi, University of Ottawa
“Vera Golini’s translation...is accompanied by an excellent critical introduction, a near-exhaustive bibliography, and an overview of the author’s life....Maraini’s loosely woven, deceptively non-engaged, often absurd stories...offer a biting critique of the social, economic, and sexual practices informing her condition.”
— University of Toronto Quarterly, Letters in Canada 2004
“This important collection of short stories by Dacia Maraini presents a fascinating, and at times disturbing, microcosm of the lives of women in Italy during the 1960s. With poignancy, humour, and a keen sense of the absurd, Maraini explores fundamental feminist issues such as female gender roles, sexuality, identity, and the violence of women’s everyday oppression. The stories in this volume provide a thought-provoking critique of the social mores and infrastructures that restrict urban women’s lives, casting a sometimes harsh light on the lives of women in Italy during a period of great social and political change. Vera Golini’s expert translation of this work makes this collection a compelling read.”
— Luciana Ricciutelli, Editor, Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme
“Originally published in 1968 as Mio Marito, this collection of 17 short stories offers a compelling, often disturbing vision of the lives of women in urban Italy during the 1960s. Maraini explores, in a spare and ironic style, fundamental feminist issues of gender roles, identity, sexuality, and violence against women. Society’s collusion in the oppression of women in working relationships, through the family dynamic, and in sexual relations comes under her intense scrutiny. While many of Maraini’s stories are dark and her characters come to a tragic or absurd end, others are wickedly humorous, particularly those in which she treads a fine line between the comic and the absurd.... Vera Golini’s translation is true to the spirit of the original.... But Golini offers us much more than a translation: she includes a succinct critical introduction, a detailed afterword on Maraini’s life and prose, a number of useful appendixes, and a critical bibliography. Thus, this edition of My Husband will not only appeal to a general reading public, but it will also provide invaluable assistance to scholars and students interested in contemporary and comparative literature, cultural studies, women’s studies, and feminism.”
— Canadian Book Review Annual