A Few months ago I began a new Reading Life Project focusing on short fiction, in translation, by Italian women. In the two collections pictured above I have access to works by about forty writers.
As part of my participation in Women in Translation August 2014, a month long very well organized event hosted by Biblio Life in Letters focusing on works of fiction by female writers which have been translated into English. (There are lots of great reading ideas and a very interesting schedule on the host web page.)
On first hearing of Women in Translation August 2014 I thought this fits quite well with my long term opened project on Italian women writerst. Many of the writers focus on the chaos and displacement in post war Italian society. Many are very influenced by existentialist writers like Sarte and Camus.
"The French Teacher" by Geda Jacolutti covers in a few pages the emotional and intellectual development of the narrator from a young girl of fourteen or so to a mature translator of the classics. As the story opens the narrator tells us that all the girls in her school group have a crush on the French teacher. "Vampish" men were the rage then and to the girls the French teacher is the epitome of sophistication and sex appeal. It was fun to see the attempts of some of the more advanced girls try to flirt with the teacher. As the years go by, she sees him occasionally. She begins to develop a passion for the classics. As the story closes, he seems a bent over old man. We wonder who has really changed the most.
I read this story in 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.
Geda Jacolutti (1921 to 1989, Udine, Italy) taught in a women's public school for thirty years. She published a number of short stories as well as extensive poetry. She was a classical scholar of high repute who translated numerous classics.