Comparing Two Different Models of Femininity

German women’s writing in fascist Italy

by Natascia Barrale

Of the German literature that crossed into Italy during Fascism, novels written by women gained considerable success. Such novels provided vivid representations of a modern and avant-garde world so that readers found themselves confronted with a new conception of femininity, imbued with emancipation and independence, in sharp contrast with the conception of the ideal woman endorsed by Fascist ideology. Italian women disregarded the expectations and codes of proper conduct imposed by the regime and allowed themselves to be won over by German heroines, revealing a clear receptiveness to new literary products.
However, precisely those somewhat nonconformist ingredients that appealed to Italian readers constituted a serious enough threat for the regime, which, in the end, thanks to extremely tight control measures, managed to impede the free circulation of some of these books. This paper considers the translation strategies employed in the Italian editions of the Frauenromane and illustrates the ways in which these novels imposed themselves on the attention of the Italian readership.

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