Women Of Messina
Fiction by Elio Vittorini
Translated from the Portuguese by Frances Frenaye
An early version of Elio Vittorini’s Women of Messina was published in Italian in 1950 and, by the author’s request, never reprinted. After considerable restructuring and rewriting, a second, definitive edition was brought out fourteen years later; it is this novel—Vittorini’s last—which is now appearing for the first time in English translation. Readers familiar with Vittorini’s work will find Women of Messina remarkably suggestive in both spirit and content of his memorable In Sicily (1937). Once more, the theme is the search for certainty in the face of massive apathy and hopelessness. Consciously evoking Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Vittorini recounts the attempts of metaphorically ’shipwrecked” group of men and women—most, like him, natives of Sicily—to construct a new life on the site of a devastated village in postwar Italy. A lyrical work of epic scope—termed a “choral narrative” by the novelist Italo Calvino—Women of Messina bears witness to the human will to survive with dignity.