Marianna Sirca By: Grazia Deledda
Translated and with an Introduction by Jan Kozma

About the Author :
Jan Kozma is Professor of Italian at The University of Kansas where she has taught since 1977. She holds a PhD in Romance Languages from The University of Michigan. She has studies in Florence and taught in Rome. She is the author of The Architecture of Imagery in Alberto Moravia’s Fiction, Carosello, and Grazia Deledda’s Eternal Adolescents: The Pathology of Arrested Maturation (FDUP, 2000). She is also translator of Grazia Deledda’s Ashes (FDUP, 2003). The author has contributed articles on Alberto Moravia, Vasco Pratolini, Francesca Duranti, and Grazia Deledda to Italica, Annali d’Italianistica, Kentucky Romance Quarterly, Romance Notes, Italian Culture, The Italianist, Dictionary of Literary Biography: Italian Novelists Since WWII, and in the edited volume, Rereading Grazia Deledda. Professor Kozma is the recipient of the Mortar Board Award, the Cramer Award, and the Kemper Foundation Fellowship for teaching research excellence. In 1978, she was named “Cavaliere,” Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in recognition of her academic contributions in the area of Italian language and literature.

Jan Kozma’s translation of Marianna Sirca is the near-literal rendering of a novel written by Grazia Deledda (1871-1936), the celebrated Italian author from Sardinia who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926. Almost all of Deledda’s stories treat the lives, loves, tragedies, and triumphs of the author’s native land – the remote, isolated, and often forbidding island of Sardinia.

This new translation includes an introduction that highlights the salient episodes of Grazia Deledda’s life and which situates Marianna Sirca both literarily within the author’s opera omniaand as part of the general literary trends of the early European twentieth century. Jan Kozma presents the homonymous protagonist, Marianna Sirca, as one of the great literary precursors of the liberated, independent, modern woman – an ironic twist, given the repressive culture in which Marianna lives. The translator also provides numerous explanatory foot-notes that elucidate particular arcane aspects of Sardinian life in the late nineteenth century.

Marianna Sirca is a 30-year-old woman of inherited wealth who lives in Nuoro, Sardinia. Because of her strong will and sense of independence, Marianna is the family “black sheep” – refusing to be married off to a distant relative in a social arrangement of convenience. Instead Marianna becomes involved with Simone Sole, a younger man who was a servant in the Sirca household in his youth and who is now an outlaw –wanted for banditry. Against the will of her entire family, the lovers plan to marry, but at Marianna’s insistence only after Simone “gets right with the law.” The novel traces the story of these two emarginated lovers through various twists and turns, ending with a typical Deleddan flourish that leaves the reader with a real awareness of Sardinian social mores, values, attitudes, and tradition.

In her day, the shy and retiring Grazia Deledda was not one to take to the streets for women’s rights – a social issue of great consequence in the first decades of the twentieth century. Despite being born to a relatively wealthy family, Deledda was raised in the same, Sardinian, closed, patriarchal society in which it was customary for women to spend the majority of the day virtually imprisoned at home engaging in womanly crafts, allowed to go out only if escorted by an adult male, perhaps a father or an older brother. It was expected that she would eventually marry a man chosen for her and raise a traditional family without protest. Notwithstanding eh obvious limitations of such an existence, Grazia Deledda carved for herself an astounding literary career in which through her fictive characters she was able indeed to voice her opinions on a wide variety of social matters. In particular, through Marianna Sirca’s story, Deledda offers to her readership this astonishingly modern protagonist. In doing so, Grazia Deledda speaks volumes about her views on women’s inherent rights, desire for personal freedom and the need to control their own lives. Grazia Deledda had an uncanny ability to espouse through her literature what the very vocal feminists were championing at the barricades throughout Europe and the Americas. Deledda transfers many of those serious concerns to a fictional character who acts out the sociopolitical desiderata, thus enabling the author’s voice to be heard as well.

ISBN 0-8386-4068-0

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