Even women read Sterne: Neera and the Novelle gaje

  • Mariella Muscariello Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
Keywords: Women, Humour, Sterne, Neera, Short stories


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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Author Biography

Mariella Muscariello, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II

Mariella Muscariello is Associate Professor of Contemporary Italian literature at theUniversityofNaples Federico II, Department of Humanities. She lectures in Italian literature and contemporary Italian literature and is a member of the teaching board of the PhD in Gender Studies at the same University.

Her publications include:

La società del romanzo. Il romanzo spirituale barocco, Sellerio, Palermo, 1979; Le passioni della scrittura. Studio sul primo Verga, Liguori, Napoli, 1989; Gli inganni della scienza. Percorsi verghiani, Liguori, Napoli, 2001; Anime sole. Donne e scrittura tra Otto e Novecento, Dante & Descartes, Napoli, 2002.

She has also published essays on Tarchetti, Capuana, De Roberto, Neera, Maria Messina, Tomasi di Lampedusa, Sciascia e Lalla Romano. She has edited the publication of Carolina Ricci’s unpublished letters (Napoli habillé. Scenari della Napoli aristocratica nelle lettere di Carolina Ricci [1882-1883], Osanna, Venosa, 1997), of Leopardi’s letters to his sister (Paolina mia. Lettere alla sorella, Osanna, Venosa, 1997) and Voci della notte di Neera (Marchese, Grumo Nevano, 2013).
How to Cite
Muscariello, M. (2016). Even women read Sterne: Neera and the Novelle gaje. Between, 6(12). https://doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/2220
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