Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Sardinia. Italian island that is the second largest island of the Mediterranean Sea and one of the most ancient of European lands, with remnants of human habitation dating from 6000 b.c.e. Until well into the twentieth century, it remained one of the most isolated of Italian regions, maintaining its own languages and tribal customs. The literary revelation of Sardinia was the work of Grazia Deledda, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1926, with special praise by the Swedish Academy for her skilled descriptions of splendidly rugged and desolate landscapes. In the Sardinia of Deledda’s novels the vendetta remain, bandits are admired, loss of chastity is horribly punished, and emotions are always raw. Her characters are not Rousseauistic noble savages, but they are also not yet corrupted by the more subtle vices of the European mainland. As in a Homeric epic, fate broods over the landscape, which, like the weather, seems to mirror the emotions of the people.


Presbytery. Primitive Sardinian home designed for the ascetic life of a priest and a female housekeeper of “a certain age.” Paul’s housekeeper is his own widowed mother, who functions as his conscience and jailor as well. She listens to his every movement and shadows him on his pastoral rounds. The austerity of the home and its keeper serves daily to remind the young priest of the life he has been forced to renounce; no youthful...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Balducci, Carolyn. A Self-Made Woman: Biography of Nobel-Prize-Winner Grazia Deledda. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1975. The only book-length study or biography of Deledda in English. Written primarily for young adults in a nonscholarly, novelistic style.

Deledda, Grazia. The Mother. Translated by Mary G. Steegmann. New York: Macmillan, 1923. Reprint. Cherokee, 1982. The introduction provides an excellent, nontechnical discussion in English of Deledda’s most famous novel.

Lawrence, D. H. Sea and Sardinia. London: Heinemann, 1950. A poetic evocation of the Sardinian milieu. An English classic of travel literature, written by one of Deledda’s most ardent admirers. Contains an especially pertinent account of a journey inland to Nuoro, identified as Deledda’s home town.

Pacifici, Sergio. The Modern Italian Novel: From Capuana to Tozzi. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1973. Highly readable account of Italian achievements in modern fiction. One chapter is devoted principally to Deledda’s work.

Pribic, Rado, ed. Nobel Laureates in Literature: A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Garland, 1990. Reviews Deledda’s literary achievement, with a concise, pertinent commentary on The Mother. Identifies themes the novel shares with Deledda’s other books and with representative international works of literary naturalism and existentialism.