Oriana Fallaci Biography

Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

If war is the thread that runs through the life and work of Oriana Fallaci (fah-LAH-chee), the bond that ties it together is physical and moral courage. Fallaci’s life began in Florence, Italy, before World War II, but her youth was spent surrounded by the horrors of the war. A member of the underground, her father was imprisoned, tortured, and threatened with execution, and she herself took part in the Corps of Volunteers for Freedom; she received an honorable discharge from the Italian army at the age of fourteen. This experience undoubtedly fostered her hatred of tyranny and her deep and abiding respect for the men, women, and often children who combat those who abuse power.

When the war ended Fallaci, then sixteen years old, began to write a crime column in a daily newspaper to pay her expenses in medical school at the University of Florence. She discovered a passion for writing and abandoned her medical studies. From the daily newspaper she moved to the Italian magazine L’Europeo, and her work soon began to appear in Look, Life, Newsweek, The New Republic, The New York Times, and other well-respected magazines and newspapers in the United States.

With the publication of If the Sun Dies, a record of her yearlong association with the astronauts, Fallaci achieved recognition as a serious writer. In this work, the first in which she employs her mature style, a seamless union of journalism and literature, Fallaci weaves her depiction of the astronauts Deke Slayton, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and her “brothers”—Pete Conrad and Theodore Freeman, among others—into the story of her own intellectual dilemma. She frames the discussion with the opposition between her father’s belief that human beings cannot escape their problems on the Moon or Venus or Alpha Centauri and her own awe of the audacity of those who challenge the heavens. Fallaci wavers occasionally from her trust in human capacity to progress but, in the end, affirms her belief in the necessity and rightness of the war of life that...

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Oriana Fallaci Bibliography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Aricò, Santo L. “Breaking the Ice: An In-depth Look at Oriana Fallaci’s Interview Techniques.” Journalism Quarterly 63 (August, 1986): 587-593. Arico’s article presents a studied and careful critique of Fallaci from the perspective of a professional colleague.

Aricò, Santo L. Oriana Fallaci: The Woman and the Myth. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1998. Biography discusses Fallaci’s work, which combines fiction and journalism. Relates her interviews with Indira Gandhi, Lech Waesa, and Henry Kissinger, and explores her outspoken antitotalitarianism.

Burke, Jeffrey. “Fallaci Records.” Harper’s 261 (November, 1980): 98-99. Primarily a review of the novel A Man. Contains many references to Interview with History and provides some useful insights into Fallaci’s career up to 1980.

Cott, Jonathan. Forever Young. New York: Random House, 1978. Among Cott’s interviews compiled in this anthology is one with Fallaci which first appeared in the June, 1976, issue of Rolling Stone. Of all the interviews given by Fallaci, this is perhaps the most famous because it provided her with a forum to explain and justify some of the techniques for which she became famous.

Gatt-Rutter, John. Oriana Fallaci: The Rhetoric of Freedom. Washington, D.C.: Berg, 1996. An introductory look at Fallaci’s work from 1958 to 1995.

Griffith, Thomas. “Interviews, Soft or Savage.” Time 117 (March 30, 1981): 47.

Griffith, Thomas. “Trial by Interview.” Time 115 (January 21, 1980): 71. In these two brief articles, Griffith comments on Fallaci’s celebrity as an interviewer and the controversy that surrounds her. He expresses respect and admiration for Fallaci’s success, both in obtaining interviews from inaccessible people and in expressing her personal style.