Other literary forms
All through her life, Grazia Deledda (day-LEHD-dah) wrote short fiction. After publication in periodicals, most of the short stories were collected in volumes, which number at least twenty-two. The early short pieces were exercises and appeared in local journals or women’s magazines; those written from 1899 to 1912 were of higher quality. Those were Deledda’s best years for long fiction also, so that the two aspects of her creativity seem to have nourished each other. As the writer’s fame grew, she was asked to contribute more and more frequently to popular magazines; like other writers of her generation, she provided the flourishing business of the periodical press with a steady flow of material. Although those short stories were designed to please the public and therefore were often trite, melodramatic, and full of the worst stereotypical characters and situations, they provide useful information on the cultural milieu of the twentieth century in Italy.
Deledda’s best collection of short stories is Chiaroscuro (1912). She employs a variety of styles and themes in the twenty-two pieces collected under that title: They are inspired by the traditional tale, the ghost story, the fairy tale (Deledda wrote many stories for children, too), the humorous anecdote, and the sentimental story. The most frequently used themes, however, and the most successfully treated, are those inspired by Deledda’s half-remembered, half-imagined Sardinia. These short stories are usually fast paced and colorful. The locations and the situations remind the reader of certain scenes from the best Western films: a village square or the stony loneliness of the hills in the white heat of the sun; small groups of people telling one another stories or listening to some handsome stranger’s boastings; furious loves, mysterious events, and vendettas. The ingredients are used effectively, and the themes are the same as those that appear in Deledda’s major fiction: the power of economic necessity, the greater power of sexual desire, and the uselessness of the wisdom of old people.