THE LAUREATE: Grazia Deledda was born in Nuoro, Sardinia on September 17, 1871. She was largely self-taught in literature, binging on French and Russian novels until her death. She also wrote copiously, with no fewer than sixty volumes to her name; some fiction, some poetry, some folklore, but mostly fiction. She married a civil servant and moved to Rome in 1900, where she ran in the same literary circles as Luigi Pirandello. She won the Nobel Prize in 1926 (eight years before Pirandello, incidentally) and died of breast cancer in 1936
WHAT I’M READING: The Church of Solitude, the last novel published in Deledda’s lifetime.REVIEW: Maria Concezione returns from the hospital after her breast had been removed. She has cancer. But, with early 20th century Italy being what it was, she can’t actually tell anyone that she has cancer. This awful silence fuels the action of the novel, because Maria Concezione is in love with a man she can’t marry (because she believes cancer is hereditary) and is also hounded by suitors (because as a rich woman, she must marry. Obviously.). The woman who translated The Church of Solitude calls it a protofeminist novel, and I can agree with that description. Maria Concezione is a strong protagonist who resists the social forces that try to circumscribe her life, but Deledda herself refused to take a stance on political issues. All that said, though, this is an interesting novel, low key but powerful.
WHAT’S NEXT: Some amount of John Galsworthy’s Forsyte Saga