Friday, June 26, 2015

Grazia Deledda

"The world is suddenly fuller, the reader's own capacity for astonishment miraculously replenished. A writer of the emotional power of Grazia Deledda is overdue for literary resurrection. It is hard not to feel, when reading her, that... her readers are getting close to some pure ore of human emotion."~ Todd Gitlin, Chicago Tribune

 Even though Grazia Deledda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926, the critics underestimated her works and labeled her as a “provincial housewife”.
   She published her first short story  when she was fifteen years old. Her brother advised her to quit writing because he feared that it would  tarnish her reputation. Her mother  was embarrassed.
   Later in life Grazia Deledda’s stories dealt with themes that people believed a woman should not write about. For this reason, they doubted her morality. Grazia Deledda took criticism in stride; the social discouragement did not quench her impassioned creative spirit. She continued writing seven days a week for one or two hours throughout her life. She was also a sedulous reader and protected her reading and writing routine with determination.
    Grazia Deledda was born and raised in Sardinia. Her native language was Sardinian, but she wrote in Italian. I recently read two of her books: “Reeds in the Wind” and “Cosima”. 
 I believe a good fiction writer understands the human soul deeply. Grazia Deledda had the power to do this well. In “Reeds in the Wind” she explored inner struggles and emotional journeys while narrating an engaging story. Her main characters either succumbed to a temptation or they were forced to transgress due to circumstances that were out of their control.  Grazia Deledda’s compassion for them shines through her insights and through the ways she dives into their intimate thoughts and emotions. She places her characters in grueling moral snares and enables them to find resilience.
 Grazia Deledda reveals that those who are judged the most have the most sensitive souls. She wrote about love, jealousy, forgiveness, hope, social ostracism, social conventions, prejudices and human resilience.  
 She also showed how prejudices and superstitions shaped people’s views and beliefs. We learn about the religious festivals held in mountain encampments and the lore of "the dark beings who populate the Sardinian night, the fairies who live in rocks and caves and the sprites with seven red caps who bother sleep."
 Her descriptions of Sardinia are vivid. Reading her two books was like taking a trip to this idyllic island.
   Cosima is an autobiography and was published posthumously. It was interesting to perceive that the themes of Cosima and “Reeds in the Wind” are related. I hope that more of her works will be translated into the English Language.
 I will share some extracts from Cosima:
“Her notebooks attracted her more than toys, and the classroom blackboard with those white marks made by the teacher had for her the charm of a window open onto the dark blue of a starry night.”
“Life follows its inexorable course like a river: there are calm times and turbid times, and there is no protection from it. In vain one tries to dam it, even to lay oneself across the current to keep others from being swept away by it. Mysterious, fateful forces propel one toward good and evil; nature itself, which seems perfect, is controlled by the violence of inevitable fate.”
 “And it came to her for no other reason than that she saw the evening star shine above the mountains no less and no more marvelous than the ladybug and the wild grasses that perfumed her walk. She decided to expect nothing that might come from outside herself, from the world agitated by men—but to expect everything from herself, from the mystery of her inner life.”
“Since she had begun writing poems and short stories everyone began to look at her with a certain suspicious amazement, if not to openly make fun of her and predict a dire future for her.”

Friday, June 12, 2015

Anything but Superior Medicine

 My short story "Anything but Superior Medicine" has been published in the Spring 2015 edition of  the Medical Literary Messenger. You can read it here.
  The Medical Literary Messenger aims to promote humanism and the healing arts through prose, poetry and photography. This journal is associated with Virginia Commonwealth University.

"Health is based on happiness from hugging and clowning around to finding joy in family and friends, satisfaction in work and ecstasy in nature and the arts."~ Patch Adams