Annesa, one of Grazia Deledda’s most enigmatic and dramatic characters, battles with a guilt she suffers when her own strength tempts her to a crime that will save others who won’t save themselves. Annesa has tragically attached herself to the tree of the Decherchi family, once noble but now dry-rotting on hard times. Her lover, Paulu Decherchi, compares her to a suffocating ivy clinging to the dead trunk.
Distraught almost to the point of madness, Annesa finally cuts herself free from her adopted family. Escaping arrest for a wealthy relative’s death — and fleeing the men who dictate the laws that control the lives of women and the poor — she imposes her own punishment of exile. But she will return to the impoverished Decherchis to complete her penance after she has purified her soul and found her own peace.
Annesa’s fate and destiny are co-joined to the wild Sardinian landscape, described in Ivy with a passion only hinted at in Deledda’s other works. Its brooding and wild mountains scarred with haunted caves create an atmosphere weighed down by poverty, prejudice, and ill omen.
Many consider Ivy to be Deledda’s best work, surpassing even Elias Portolu and Reeds in the Wind (Canne al vento). Here she deeply probes the misguided but altruistic motivation of a woman totally dependent on others who lack her own moral fortitude.
Deledda won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1926, writing fiction set in Sardinia, mining it deeply and evoking its people and their character. Ivy, Deledda’s third novel, was originally published in 1908 in Italian as L’Edera and has never been previously published in English.
First English translation.
Introduction, notes, bibliography.