Even women read Sterne: Neera and the Novelle gaje
This paper intends to add a significant piece to the jagged history of the “Sterne effect” within XIX and XX century Italian Literature, by showing - through Neera’s Novelle Gaje(1879) - that humour was not only a male-writing prerogative.
Starting from a very explicit sign of admiration for Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, which Neera delivered to her own memories Una giovinezza delsecolo XIX, the paper conducts a formal survey of the thirteen short stories included in the collection, with the aim of underlying all the structure, language and content features linked to the humour patterns.Neera’s short stories are built up in a serpentine structure, which gathers flashbacks, ellipsis, digressions, meta-narrative inserts, calls to the readers, who cooperate for the construction of a very tangle perception of time; Neera’s narrators are “feeling bearers” like Yorick, they are interested in the little things in life and they are always very inclined to their characters. However, while Sterne was laughing at the travel literature strongly spreading in the XVIII century publishing industry, Neera’s target was the abused sentimentalism in the Italian “letteratura rosa”; actually, she emphasizes all fleeting passions and discredits the concrete nature of marriage, which was for Neera along the essential idea of women’s identity, along with the idea of maternity.
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