Grazia Deledda was the most unlikely person to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926. Born in the relative obscurity in Nuoro, Sardinia, she grew up speaking dialect in a community where women who wrote for money were a source of scandal. Deledda overcame the obstacles of language and culture (learning Italian and largely self-taught) and the hostility of her own community (a hostility which continued even after her death) to become one of the best-known writers of her day, in Italy and beyond.
Deledda sought to portray her native Sardinia to an uncomprehending world, and to make a name for herself in the process. Her best known narratives portray a world rooted in archaic and elemental values, yet poised on the edge of an uncertain modernity, where material and political change mirrors seismic shifts in cultural tradition. The catalyst in Deledda’s world is usually erotic passion, forbidden and transgressive in this rigid world, or else money and material possessions, or a heady mix of both.
Deledda has been variously categorised as Romantic, Realist, Symbolist or Decadent. This book aims to show the writer and her work in a new light, emphasising the extraordinary nature of her achievement given her unpromising beginnings, and seeing in her work not a pale reflection of literary experiments going on elsewhere, but powerful narratives which speak to the modern world of gender, love, economics, social order and transgression, of feminism and of postcolonialism.