Gianna Manzini (1896–1974) is considered one of the most accomplished writers in Italy, praised by important literary critics and writers, and widely known by Italian readers. Her fiction has been compared closely to that of Virginia Woolf, Thomas Mann and Paul Valéry. It is well recognized that narrative in Italy began its “experiment of lyrical expression” with the appearance of Manzini’s first novel, Tempo innamorato.
Gianna Manzini’s Threshold (Sulla soglia) was first published in 1973. It still packs an immediacy of emotion and personal subjectivity unique in experimental fiction. This short novel takes an introspective look at a daughter’s relationship to her mother’s last days. We follow the first-person narrator on a trip not quite like others from a train station not quite of this world. Threshold captures the conflicting emotions and the closeness of loved ones through the intimacy of material objects. By highlighting the power of materiality, Manzini develops a storyline that frames her reflections on the relationship between parent and child.
Manzini skillfully constructs a virtual reality through a language that leads her readers to imagine other possibilities. The dreamlike quality of her writing moves the reader across the border of the real to the imagined and back again. The novel’s evocative and slippery use of symbolism self-consciously confuses temporality and the blurry boundaries between space and perspective. Threshold joins Game Plan for a Novel (2008) and Full-Length Portrait (2011), two other novels by this highly original Italian writer published by Italica Press.
“With this astutely presented and translated novella, Threshold, Laura E. Ruberto and Irena Stanic Rasin give readers a rare opportunity to experience Gianna Manzini’s art of storytelling, among Italy’s finest. The first lines sweep us into a suspenseful journey on the verge of life beyond life, amidst sights, sounds, and sensations as traces of meanings for understanding the mysteries of love, disease, the power of memory and writing, and death.”
— Robin Pickering-Iazzi, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Preface, Introduction, Note on the Translation, Select Bibliography.
First English translation.
Copyright © 2016
ITALICA PRESS, INC.