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Gianna Manzini: Lettera all’editore (Game Plan for a Novel)

Both Manzini and Anna Banti have been called the Italian Virginia Woolf. This book is certainly more Woolfian than, say, Artemisia (Artemisia). Though there is a story – there are in fact two stories – it is her impressions and her feelings, as with Woolf, rather than the plot that matter. For example, her description of a simple bowl of fruit immediately recalls a Cézanne bowl of fruit.

There are two stories. The first is of a couple and their difficult relationship, about which the author is writing. The second story is, as the title implies, about the letters the author is sending to her publisher about her problems in writing the novel (both personal and artistic). She mixes in, not only these two stories and her impressions and feelings but also how she, as the author, sees her characters which, of course, recalls Pirandello, though, of course, his style is very different.

This is not an easy book, just as Woolf’s novels are not easy and it needs to be read more than once to get to grips with it. Fortunately, it has finally become available in English translation (only sixty-two years after it was first published in Italian) and, while Woolf’s books remain firmly in print in England, this novel tends to go in and out of print in Italy. But it is as important to Italian literature as Woolf is to English literature.

Publishing history

First published in Italian 1946 by Mondadori
First English translation by italica Press in 2008
Translated Martha King