Anna Banti and Virginia Woolf: A Grammar of Responsibility

Boldrini, Lucia. 2009. Anna Banti and Virginia Woolf: A Grammar of Responsibility. Journal of Anglo-Italian Studies, 10, pp. 135-149. ISSN 1560-2168 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper considers the dialogue that Anna Banti establishes with two female artists, two of her elders and models: the writer Virginia Woolf, and the Renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi. But first, let me set the scene – two scenes in fact, striking in their contrast, haunting in their combination. The first is the beginning of Banti’s Artemisia (1947): it is 1944 and the narrator – a projection of Banti herself – is sitting in her nightgown on the ground in the Giardino de’ Boboli, in Florence, where she has taken refuge having escaped the destruction of her home; she hears a voice: ‘non piangere,’ ‘don’t cry.’ The Allied troops were entering Florence, the German army were leaving, blowing up bridges before abandoning the town, and the narrator’s home, her possessions, her nearly completed manuscript of Artemisia Gentileschi were lost under the rubble. The voice that chides and comforts her is Artemisia’s, a painter from three centuries earlier who was raped as a young woman, denounced her rapist in a trial, had to undergo torture to prove that she was telling the truth, was subjected to the humiliation of a gynaecological examination in the court to prove that she had lost her virginity to the rapist, and who went on to become a famous painter, controversial and defiant in her life, sought after by patrons and pupils.

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Attached file is text of second proofs.

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English and Comparative Literature



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Date Deposited:

14 Oct 2010 13:21

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:29


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