Isolina

Dacia Maraini, Author, Sian Williams, Translator Peter Owen Publishers $35.95 (152p) ISBN 978-0-7206-0897-7
The line between fiction and nonfiction blurs-and may disappear-in this new work from esteemed Italian author Maraini (The Silent Duchess). Referencing period newspapers and other archival materials, Maraini reconstructs the events surrounding the turn-of-the-century murder and decapitation of Isolina Canuti, a young Veronese woman who had become pregnant by her lover, an army officer of noble stock. Local newspapers seized on the case, particularly the facts that Isolina may have had an abortion and that her best friend also may have been murdered. Isolina's lover finally sued one paper for libel, resulting in a celebrated court case that was in effect a murder trial as well as a posthumous referendum on Isolina's behavior. Maraini speculates on motivations and events and includes her perceptions of present-day Verona as well as her interviews with the characters' descendants. Unfortunately, the extensive use of newspaper quotes, with their factual, if biased, tone, combines with the remote voice of much of the narrative to create considerable distance from the narrative's events. Still, the story is timely in its focus on issues of journalistic integrity, sexual violence and justice. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/1994
Release date: 12/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
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