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The Silent Duchess

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Finalist for the International Man Booker Prize, winner of the Premio Campiello, short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Award upon its first English-language publication in the UK, and published to critical acclaim in fourteen languages, this mesmerizing historical novel by one of Italy’s premier women writers is available in the United States for the first time.

The Silent Duchess is the story of Marianna Ucrìa, the victim of a mysterious childhood trauma that has left her deaf and mute, trapped in a world of silence. In luminous language that conveys both the keen visual sight and the deep human insight possessed by her remarkable main character, Dacia Maraini captures the splendor and the corruption of Marianna's world and the strength of her unbreakable spirit.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 04, 1999 – The publication in America of Maraini's The Silent Duchess, originally issued in Italy as La hunga vita di Marianna Ucria (1990), is cause for rejoicing. Episodic and essentially plotless, but propelled by an inner tension, this unusual historical novel about the splendid but squalid Sicilian aristocracy of the early 18th century comes closer to belles lettres than a conventional novel. As a result of being sexually abused as a young child, the duchess Marianna (in real life, an ancestor of the author) has lost both voice and hearing and communicates with others by writing notes. A free spirit, she contrives to educate and liberate herself through reading while living in a society that totally subjugates women. (Sicilian aristocrats were so idle and poor, though wealthy in unproductive land, that all members of the family were sacrificed to the eldest son and heir.) The only choices for women of her rank are either an arranged marriage or betrothal to Christ and life in a convent (the choice of Marianna's daughter, Felice). As Camaiti-Hostert writes in her afterword, this novel is "the story of a life seen, smelled, tasted, and touched"; like a silent movie, the narrative unfolds without sound, but in Maraini's deft hands, this silence becomes a powerful metaphor for the plight of a young woman growing up in an impoverished but proud, unenlightened but self-righteous patriarchy. FYI : The Silent Duchess won Italy's 1990 Premio Campiello and England's 1992 Independent Foreign Fiction Award. It has been translated into 14 languages.
The Silent Duchess
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  • $16.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Jan 01, 2000
  • Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY
  • Seller: Perseus Books, LLC
  • Print Length: 264 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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