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Their Other Side

Six American Women and the Lure of Italy

Helen Barolini

Publication Year: 2006

Our lives are Swiss,Emily Dickinson wrote in 1859, So still-so cool.But over the Alps, Italy stands the other side.For Dickinson, as for many other writers and artists, Italy has been the land of light, a seductive source of invention, enchantment, and freedom. So it was for Helen Barolini, who, as a student in Rome after World War II, wrote her first poetry and gave birth to her own creative life, reinvigorating her mother tongue. In this book, Barolini celebrates the lives of other women whose imaginations succumbed to the lure of Italy.Here Barolini profiles six gifted women transformed by Italy's mythic appeal. Unlike Barolini herself, they were not daughters of the great Italian diaspora. Rather, they were drawn to an idea of Italyand its gifts-in whose welcome a new self could be created. Or discovered.Emily Dickinson traveled to Italy only in the imaginative genius of her verse. Margaret Fuller struggled alongside her Italian lover in the political revolutions that gave birth to the Italian Republic, while the novelist and short-story writer Constance Fennimore Woolson found her home in Venice and Florence. Here, too, is the flamboyant artist Mabel Dodge Luhan, entertaining at her villa near Florence; and Marguerite Chapin of Connecticut, who married an Italian prince and in Rome founded the premier literary review of the mid-century, Botteghe Oscure. Finally, here is Iris Cutting Origo, the Anglo-American heiress who, with her Italian nobleman husband, built a Tuscan estate, where she wrote acclaimed biographies-and created a refuge from Mussolini's fascism.Linking these lives, Barolini shows, is the transforming catalyst of change in a new land. Their Other Side is a wise, warm, and deeply felt literary journey that brilliantly captures the enduring effects of Italy as a place, a culture, and an experience.

Published by: Fordham University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

Excerpts from this work appeared in shortened versions in these publications: ‘‘The American Discovery of Italy’’ in Americans in Modern Italy, a special issue of The Cesare Barbieri Courier (n.d.); ‘‘The Italian Side of Emily Dickinson,’’ The Virginia Quarterly Review...

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pp. xi-xxx

‘‘Write me a Prologue,’’ Bottom instructs his fellow players in A Midsummer’s Night Dream to center the audience’s attention on what was coming. And so, by way of prologue, let me establish how I connected to Italy and why I set about to probe its legendary...

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1. Ardor and Apocalypse: The Timeless Trajectory ofMargaret Fuller

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pp. 3-52

On a glorious, clear, cool, and sun-lit October afternoon, I was present at the outdoor dedication of the Newington-Cropsey Foundation Gallery of Art in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. The gallery was conceived and built by Barbara Newington to honor...

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2. The Italian Side of Emily Dickinson

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pp. 53-82

A few years before my stay at the American Academy in Rome, I had been a fellow resident at Villa Serbelloni, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Study and Conference Center on Lake Como in northern Italy. Situated above one of earth’s beauty...

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3. Constance Woolson and Death in Venice

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pp. 83-128

On a sunny February day when I stood in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome at the 150th memorial service for John Keats, who was buried there in 1821, it was just a month since my husband had died suddenly in Rome and I was remembering him, poet, too...

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4. Mabel Dodge Luhan: In Search of a Personal South

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pp. 129-176

Mabel Dodge, acquiring the attire and attitude of a Renaissance personage, was the willful mistress of Villa Curonia in Arcetri outside Florence from 1905 to 1912. Among her string of names—she was born Ganson, then acquired Evans, Dodge...

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5. Yankee Principessa: Marguerite Caetani

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pp. 177-232

I was a young, aspiring writer when the excitement of an international literary review from Rome called Botteghe Oscure arrived in upstate New York and flung open the doors to the wider world of writing and pointed my way to Italy where it was happening. It...

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6. Iris Origo: To the Manor/Manner Born

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pp. 233-274

Picture a 1458 Tuscan villa fronted by a terrace mossy with age and looking down from Fiesole’s heights to Florence below, a city cradled between hills in the valley of the Arno river that flows through it. Built on foundations dating even earlier, when it was a...

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pp. 275-286

On the night before I was to fly to Rome my sleep was uneasy. The trip was to visit my daughter Susi and her family and to take in some of the sites associated with the women about whom I was writing. It was years since I had lived in Rome and I dreamt I had...


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pp. 287-292


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pp. 293-300


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pp. 301-309

E-ISBN-13: 9780823246700
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823226290
Print-ISBN-10: 0823226298

Page Count: 260
Publication Year: 2006

OCLC Number: 213305708
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Their Other Side

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Subject Headings

  • American literature -- Women authors -- Italian influences.
  • Italy -- In literature.
  • Women authors, American -- Homes and haunts -- Italy.
  • Women authors, American -- 19th century -- Biography.
  • Women authors, American -- 20th century -- Biography.
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