Published works

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This collection contains works that discuss seventeenth-century Italian romance literature, the work of nineteenth-century author Carlo Emilio Gadda and other aspects of Italian literature.


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“Visions and Revisions: Women in Italian Culture” and other publications.

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Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
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    Italo Calvino: Attentive Observer of Life, Experienced or Imagined. [abstract].
    (2006) Baker, Margaret Anne
    The Italian writer Italo Calvino, who died in September 1985, is remembered as a fabulist and essayist. His writing spans a range that reflects the diversity of his cultural interests but shows a basic consistency of narrative purpose, as outlined in his essays and responses to his cultural environment. The intellectual curiosity that marked Calvino’s writing from his beginnings in the immediate postwar period of neorealism led him to many areas, the recent political situation as well as fantasy that at surface level seemed disengaged. Even though remaining a fabulist, his approach to his material gradually became concentrated on that close observation of the surrounding reality that we find in his last writing (Eng. titles: "Mr Palomar" of 1983, and "Under the Jaguar Sun", 1986). By making reference to this typical Calvinian mixture of insistence on the observable reality and on the writer’s, and readers’, freedom to float with the imagination, this paper points to the layers of reflection that the author brings to one of the traditional tropes used in his writing.
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    Some thoughts on historical narrative in twentieth-century Italian literature
    (Dept. of Italian, University of Melbourne, 1999) Baker, Margaret Anne
    The presence of historically-based narrative (i.e. prose writing that brings the past into focus) has been noticeable in Italian writing throughout this century and particularly so in the later half of the century. Recent critical interest has drawn attention to the continuing flow of historical novels, but an extensive survey of the use of Italian prose in the twentieth century would need to take account not only of the historical novel (and the great diversity of approach to it) but also of writing not strictly within this genre, writing that has been guided by personal history and not (or not solely) by a cultural interest in more general perspectives. From the end-point of the twentieth century, the ideological positions of earlier decades reveal themselves more clearly as restraints that influenced literary choices and had particular effect on the novelist's interpretation of history, as well on the reception of the viewpoint expressed.
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    The Women Characters of Carlo Emilio Gadda
    (Berg, 1993) Baker, Margaret Anne
    Like his predecessors in Naturalism, Carlo Emilio Gadda (1893-1973) has given us women characters of remarkable vitality. By the time of his first recorded writing, during World War I, the earlier representation of female characters had changed, allowing for the inclusion of qualities verging on the irregular and the bizarre. This characteristic is a feature of many of Gadda’s women characters who display an astonishing range of physical defects. Whatever their station or narrative function, his description of them often contains elements of distortion, although this rarely has the effect of individualising them. It will be argued that the presence of such women characters in Gadda’s work has a precise function in his representation of the world.
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    Journeys and Discovery in Seventeenth-Century Italian Prose Romances
    (Dept. of Italian, University of Melbourne, 1991) Baker, Margaret Anne
    This paper has its starting point in the work on seventeenth-century Italian prose romances first published twenty years ago by Albert N. Mancini who identified, among other aspects of this genre, the centrality of court life in motivation action, providing a structural link for the development of plot, and establishing a typology for the protagonists. In the present discussion, examples will be given of thematic and expressive patterns taken from a number of seventeenth-century writers who draw on the heroic-gallant model. As well, it will be shown that the writers' focus on court life (or an extension of it) introduces, through the motif of travel, new possibilites for narrative development.
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    Narrators and their Reporting in the Prose Romance Trilogy of Giovanni Francesco Biondi
    (The Italian Discipline, The Flinders University of South Australia, 1992) Baker, Margaret Anne
    In the judgement of some of his contemporaries, Giovanni Francesco Biondi, the first seventeenth-century Italian writer to publish a romance in prose, is among the few to distinguish themselves in the new genre. The impression one gains from reading Biondi’s trilogy is that there has been stylistic vigilance in representing situation and character interaction. There are some departures from the narrative techniques found in earlier chivalric romances, especially in reporting speech. The present study looks at the relationship between some of these stylistic effects and the author’s possible intention of mirroring aspects of the contemporary cultural-social environment within his trilogy.
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    Reflections Cast on Inferno XXXI-XXXIV by Primo Levi's Account of Auschwitz.
    (Australian Humanities Press, 2000) Baker, Margaret Anne
    In ‘Se questo è un uomo’, Primo Levi tells his “ghastly tale” of his months in a Nazi concentration camp by evoking occasional comparison with parts of Dante’s ‘Inferno’. When, decades later, he returns to write about the ‘Lager’ in ‘I sommersi e i salvati’, he draws once more on imagery from the ‘Inferno’ to support the narration of his own past experience. As happens with literary borrowings, homage to an earlier work can serve to quicken our perceptions towards both the ancient and the modern text. Through their relationship to aspects of Dante’s Ninth Circle, Levi’s texts gain depth for their portrayal of the misery and degradation that they record and at the same time serve to strengthen our reading of ‘Inferno’ XXXI-XXXIV.
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    Carlo Emilio Gadda's Luigi di Francia
    (Department of Languages, Flinders University, 2002-03) Baker, Margaret Anne
    The work that Gadda prepared for publication from the series of broadcasts on Louis XIII-XV of France during 1952 has largely been overlooked by critics. It is the aim of this article to show that, although there are certain unusual features in the text of I Luigi di Francia which arise from its origins in radio scripts, the work is recognisably Gaddian in its main stylistic and thematic concerns. In tracing some of the background to the text, due acknowledgement is made of the scholarly work already done on the history of the text by Gianmarco Gaspari, the compiler of the Notes on this text for the Garzanti edition of Gadda's Opere; Gaspari's implied conclusion that this is not the least Gaddian of the author's work, and his important conclusions about the degree to which the work was based on source material, offers the opportunity here for an analysis and explicit statement of the nature of the text and of its reflection of significant points in the span of Gadda's writing.