This is the third of what I hope will be many posts for my project on italian women writers. Anne Banti (1895 to 1985, born in Florence) was a novelist, art historian, literary critic and translator. She also wrote a number of short stories. (The publication date of 1983 references the inclusion of "The Courage of Women" in an anthology of Banti's work, rather than the first publication date which is unknown to me.)
The story centers on the state of the marriage of a country doctor and his wife. They are well into midde age, have several children, servants and live comfortably. The relationship between the spouses is depicted in a very interesting way. As the story opens the wife is walking with her friends.,it is clear she dreads going hope to her husband. We don't get any indication he beats her but he does scream at her and pound his fists on the dining table. I liked how Banti showed us the serving woman trying to catch a glimpse of them fighting to give her material for gossip while pretending to be totally absorbed in her work. The wife knows her husband keeps a pistol under his pillow and fears he would shoot her one night if it were not for the trouble it would bring down on him. She has often thought of poisoning him. In the very interesting close of the story, the woman gets the courage to go on. I feel there is still love between them.
"The Courage of Women" is for sure worth reading. People married a long time, especially those whose relationships have had serious ups and downs, will find things to ponder in this story.
I read this story in a very high value anthology, New Italian Women, A Collection of Short Fiction,edited by Martha King.
This anthology is published by Italica Press, a leading publisher of literary and historical works related to Italy. Anyone interested in Italian literature and history will find their webpage very valuable. They have an extensive offering of translated works by Italian women.