(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Fallaci, Oriana 1930–

Fallaci is an Italian novelist and journalist. Approaching her work as a socialist and a historian, she is deeply concerned with politics, feminism, and the influence of people in power. Her interviews with numerous leaders and political figures are known for their candor and controversial method of questioning. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 77-80.)

Isa Kapp

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Fallaci enacts each of her assignments [as interviewer] as though it were a boxing match or a love scene. She springs into many different postures in rapid succession to unnerve her opponent, and alternates verbal scratches with relenting pats until her subject releases what she takes to be the essence of himself.

Whether or not these disingenuous tactics are necessary to overcome the self-protectiveness of public figures, they certainly testify to her belief that nothing could be duller than objective fact, and that the pursuit of truth must be peppered with friction. She specializes in the production of a spurious electricity, not so much to switch a clear light on political leaders, as to disclose...

(The entire section is 769 words.)


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Fallaci's new book ["Letter to a Child Never Born"], which she calls a novel, takes the form of a passionate dialogue with the unborn child she once carried during a three-month pregnancy. Its theme is easy enough to identify with, being central to the lives of most women: the general ambivalence of joy and fear towards the act of giving birth, the more agonizing ambivalence towards giving birth to an illegitimate child. Yet although the book has moments of intense emotional power it too often lapses into a bathos that is as disconcerting as it is unexpected, coming as it does from this rapier-witted debunker of all bourgeois clichés and historical sentimentalism.

"Letter to a Child Never Born" is a...

(The entire section is 718 words.)

Hope Hale Davis

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Fallaci focuses [the whole of Letter to a Child Never Born] on the child's physical presence within the heroine; the fetus as imagined from an article becomes the other main character, and is addressed throughout….

Though her tone tends to be arch, Fallaci makes the process of pregnancy marvelously vivid….

The novel neatly encapsulates the battle between an old longing that may be irresistibly instinctual, and the urge of women toward outer fulfillment, worldly success. (p. 15)

Fallaci is famous for her interviews with celebrities…. Her power is such that she could bring to heel the Duchess of Alba, with all her 63 titles, by threatening to choose...

(The entire section is 413 words.)

John Begley

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Unlike most modern novels I have read in recent years, [Letter to a Child Never Born] will be difficult to forget. In the form of a novel, and I frequently found it necessary to remind myself that it was a novel and not a private journal I was reading, it is an intensely personal reflection upon the purpose and value of human existence. The medium of expression is a tragic monologue in which an unmarried, liberated career woman confronts the question to give life or to deny it….

To the end the mother retains her independence by refusing to agree with the child's decision to die on the grounds that "it is not enough to believe in love if you don't believe in life." For her the meaning of life...

(The entire section is 201 words.)