Maria Zef

Paola Drigo, Author, Blossom Steinberg Kirschenbaum, Translator University of Nebraska Press $30 (182p) ISBN 978-0-8032-1676-1
A workmanlike translation will acquaint American readers with this 1936 novel by an undeservedly neglected Italian woman of letters. The eponymous heroine, familiarly known as Mariutine, is an exceptionally beautiful young teenager from the harsh mountain region of Friuli. She and her sister Rosute, eight years Mariutine's junior, are orphaned when, during one of their shared peregrinations, their peddler mother dies. Their uncle, Barbe Zef, taciturn and inclined toward alcoholism, assumes custody. Illness necessitates Rosute's hospitalization; in the ensuing isolation, Mariutine is raped and abused by Barbe. Drigo's (1876-1938) prose is vibrantly cinematic--peasants consuming a copious meal, villagers trudging through the snow, a primitive alpine hut are depicted with great verisimilitude. Kirschenbaum, professor of comparative literature at Brown, argues that Drigo is a ``major'' writer, but, however excellent this novelist's observations, her plot teeters into melodrama, particularly at the conclusion. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
Paperback - 182 pages - 978-0-8032-6577-6
Paperback - 168 pages - 978-1-4800-0238-8
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