Cosima tells the story of an aspiring writer growing up in Nuoro, Sardinia during the last decades of the nineteenth century when formal education for women was rare and literary careers unheard-of. Based on Deledda’s own life, the work describes a young woman’s struggle against the dismay and disapproval of her family and friends at her creative ambitions. Yet it also reads like a charming fable with details of family life, rural traditions and wild bandits, and it is as much a novel of memory as of character or action.
Deledda’s characters are poor country folk driven by some predetermined force. Their loves are tragic, their lives as hard and as rigidly controlled as nature itself in the hills of Sardinia. Deledda creates memorable figures who play out their lives against this backdrop of mountains and bare plains, sheepfolds and vineyards. Shimmering in the distance is the sea and escape — for a few — to the Continent or America.
In 1926 Grazia Deledda became the second woman and the second Italian to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. She wrote thirty-three novels, including Reeds in the Wind, and many books of short stories, almost all set on Sardinia. Her work has become well known to English-speaking readers through Martha King’s translations for Italica Press.