In The Dance of the Necklace, Grazia Deledda moves away from the countryside of her native Sardinia to create a classically modern, urban narrative. Writing in a more spare, experimental style, she uncovers the “vain anguish of our strongest passions: love, ambition, and the instinct to appear more than what we are.”
A pearl necklace symbolizes the “dance” of jealousy, greed, and love, both erotic and familial, which unites and divides the three main characters: an aunt and her niece who share the same name and a young count seeking to regain his family’s bartered string of pearls.
An innocent deception turns on itself to explore the nature of the double and the mask: two topoi of modernity. Like Virginia Woolf, Doris Lessing, and Annie Ernaux, Deledda delves into what it means to be a woman, alone and aging, living in a world where she is increasingly unwanted and invisible despite her lingering desires.
According to the critic Margherita Heyer-Caput, the novel is one of Deledda’s “most conscious and disquieting expressions of modernity.” It challenges the labels often applied to this writer and overturns established critical categories to question margin–center hierarchies applied to her work. The Dance of the Necklace is a remarkable and rare example of Deledda’s modernism.
First English translation of La Danza della Collana (1924).
Introduction, notes, bibliography.
JSTOR, ProQuest Editions
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