The daughter of well-known ethnologist Fosco Maraini, Dacia Maraini was born in 1936 and spent her early childhood in Japan while her father conducted his research. Because of her parents’ anti-fascist views, the family was confined to a concentration camp during the final years of the war. After their return from Japan she and her family lived in Sicily, for the first few years in Bagheria, at the ancestral home of her mother, painter Topazia Alliata. Dacia studied in Palermo, Florence and Rome, beginning her writing career with articles in literary magazines.
Her first novel, La vacanza, was published in 1962, and the second, L’età del malessere, won the International Formentor Prize in 1963 and was translated into twelve languages. She has subsequently published eight more novels, several investigative studies, and collections of poetry and essays. Among her other translated works are: Memorie di una ladra (1973) [Memoirs of a Female Thief ]; Donna in guerra (1975) [Woman at War]; Lettere a Marina (1980) [Letters to Marina]; Il treno per Helsinki (1984) [The Train]; Isolina (1985); La lunga vita di Marianna Ucrìa (1990) [The Silent Duchess]; Viaggiando con passo di volpe (1983-1991) [Traveling in the Gait of a Fox]. Her most recent works include Bagheria (1993), a narrative memoir on Sicily, and Cercando Emma (1994), a study of Flaubert’s Emma Bovary. She has won major literary prizes for her work, notably the Premio Campiello for La lunga vita di Marianna Ucrìa and the Premio Strega for her collection of short stories Buio in 1999. Both La lunga vita di Marianna Ucrìa and Bagheria (which had run to 12 editions by 1994) stayed on Italy’s bestseller lists for almost two years.
While continuing to publish novels and poetry, she co-founded the Teatro del Porcospino in the 1960s, and established the feminist experimental theatre La Maddalena in Rome, in 1973. The American literary magazine Aphra published her play Manifesto in instalments during 1972 and 1973, and a production was subsequently presented at the Provincetown Playhouse.
Another play, Mary Stuart, was produced at La Mama Theatre in New York, and at the Battersea Arts Centre in London (dir. Nicolette Kay), receiving the City Limits and Time Out Critics’ Choice British Premiere award in 1992. It was produced in Holland at the Publieke Theatre, in Spain at the Teatro Espanol de Madrid (dir. Hemilio Hernandez), and in Montevideo, Uruguay, at the Teatro Candela in 1986 (dir. Marcelino Dufau), as well as in Australia, Belgium, Germany, and Austria, and at California State University, Hayward, in 1990.
I sogni di Clitennestra was performed by the City Troupe in New York in September 1989 and in London in 1994 (dir. Nicolette Kay). Other plays include Dialogo di una prostituta con il suo cliente, performed in London by the Monstrous Regiment at the East End Theatre, 1980-81 (dir. Ann Mitchell), Stravaganza, performed in Vienna in 1987 at the Künstlerhaus, (dir. Johanna Thomek), then in Australia, Brazil, and Germany. Mela was performed in London by Muzikansky in 1993 (dir. Nicolette Kay).
Her plays continue to be translated and performed, such as the stage version of Marianna Ucrìa. Several of her books have been filmed, and she herself has written screenplays for such directors as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Marco Ferreri, Carlo Di Palma, and Margarethe Von Trotta. She continues to be active in feminist causes and as a commentator on politics and society, especially in columns for newspapers and weeklies. Her articles have appeared regularly in newspapers like Corriere della Sera, La Stampa, L’Unità, and Paese Sera. Some of these have been collected with earlier articles in La Bionda, la bruna, e l’asino (1987).
There followed Fare teatro (1966-2000), which collected together nearly all her theatrical works; in 2000, Amata scrittura, a volume of essays inspired by conversations with other writers; and in 2001, La nave per Kobe, the tale of the Maraini family’s voyage from Brindisi to Kobe, in Japan, when her father received a study grant to carry out his ethnological research after having given in to the risky temptation of tearing up his membership to the Fascist party in front of his father (Dacia was just two years old at the time).
In 2001, the fable La pecora Dolly was published by Fabbri, and in 2004, the novel Colomba was published by Rizzoli, in which Maraini accompanies her readers through the discovery of a fairytale-like story which delicately probes the motivations and emotions that guide the human spirit. 2007 saw the author’s return to the theatre with Passi affrettati (Hurried Steps), published by Edizioni Lanieri. The play consists of seven stories of violence against women, all true testimonies collected by Amnesty International from around the world. The play has been staged in the UK, under the direction of Nicolette Kay, in France by the company Talon Rouge (dir. Catherine Javaloyes) and in Spain by the company Crit, directed by Maraini herself and with the extraordinary participation of Rosana Pastor.
In 2008 Maraini’s most recent novel was published, Il treno dell’ultima notte, a novel centred on the depths of 20th-century totalitarianism. It narrates a voyage from the Shoah to Budapest, in 1956, the year of the revolution.
Compiled by Alex Standen (Birmingham)
La vacanza (Milan: Lerici, 1962)
L’età del malessere (Turin: Einaudi, 1963)
A memoria (Milan: Bompiani, 1967)
Mio marito (Milan: Bompiani, 1968)
Crudeltà all’aria aperta (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1968)
L’amore coniugale (Rome: 1969)
‘Il manifesto’ in Fare teatro (1966-2000) Volume Primo (1969), pp. 155-233
Memorie di una ladra (Milan: Bompiani, 1972)
‘Dialogo di una prostituta con un suo cliente’ in Fare teatro (1966-2000) Volume Primo, (1973), pp. 393-412
Donne mie (Turin: Einaudi, 1974)
Fare teatro: Materiali, testi, interviste (Milan: Bompiani, 1974)
Donna in guerra (Turin: Einaudi, 1975)
Aborto: parlano le donne (Rome: 1976)
‘I sogni di Clitennestra’ in Fare teatro (1966-2000) Volume Primo (1978), pp. 619-70
Mangiami pure (Turin: Einaudi, 1978)
Storia di Piera [With Piera degli Esposti] (Milan: Bompiani, 1980)
‘Maria Stuarda’ in Fare teatro (1966-2000) Volume Primo (1980), pp. 703-42
Lettere a Marina (Milan: Bompiani, 1981)
Dimenticato di dimenticare (Turin: Einaudi, 1982)
Il treno per Helsinki (Milan: Bompiani, 1984)
Isolina (Mondatori, 1985).
‘Stravaganza’, in Fare teatro (1966-2000) Volume Secondo, 1986, pp. 177-214
La bionda, la bruna e l’asino (Milan: Rizzoli, 1987)
La lunga vita di Marianna Ucrìa (Turin: Einaudi, 1990)
Viaggiando con passo di volpe (Milan: Rizzoli, 1991)
‘Veronica, meretrice e scrittora’ in Fare teatro (1966-2000) Volume Secondo, 1991, pp. 397-448.
Bagheria (Milan: Rizzoli, 1993)
Voci (Milan: Rizzoli, 1994)
Dolce per sé (Milan: Rizzoli, 1997)
Se amando troppo (Milan: Rizzoli, 1998)
Buio Milan: Rizzoli, 1999)
Fare teatro (1966-2000) Volume Primo (Milan: Rizzoli, 2000)
Fare teatro (1966-2000) Volume Secondo (Milan: Rizzoli, 2000)
La nave per Kobe (Milan: Rizzoli, 2001)
Piera e gli assassini [With Piera degli Espositi] (Milan: Rizzoli, 2003)
Colomba (Milan: Rizzoli, 2004)
I giorni di Antigone (Milan: Rizzoli, 2006)
Il gioco dell’universo (Milan: Mondadori, 2007)
Passi affrettati. (Pescara: Ianieri, 2007)
Il treno dell’ultima notte. (Milan: Rizzoli, 2008)
La ragazza di via Maqueda (Milan: Rizzoli, 2009)
La seduzione dell’altrove (Milan: Rizzoli, 2010)
La grande festa (Milan: Rizzoli, 2011)
Per Giulia (Rome: Perrone, 2011)
Per proteggerti meglio, figlia mia (Rome: Perrone, 2011)
L'amore rubato (Milan: Rizzoli, 2012)
Compiled by Alex Standen (Birmingham)
Achilli, Tina: Mariti e Regini. Il gioco violento delle coppie nel teatro di Luigi Pirandello e Dacia Maraini (Bari: Progedit, 2007)
Anderlini, Serena: ‘Dacia Maraini: Prolegomena for a Feminist Dramaturgy of the feminine’[Transl. Tracy Barrett] in Diacritics, Vol. 21, No. 2/3: A Feminist Miscellany (Summer-Autumn 1991, pp 148-160)
Bryce, Judith: ‘Intimations of Patriarchy: Memories of Wartime Japan in Dacia Maraini’s Bagheria’ in European Memories of World War II, eds. Helmut Peitsch, Charles Burdett and Claire Gorrara. (Oxford : Berghahn, 1988, pp. 220-228)
— : ‘The Perfect Crime? Paternal Perpetrators in Dacia Maraini’s Voci’ in Crime Scenes: Detective Narratives in European Culture Since 1945, eds. Anne Mullen and Emer O’Beirne. (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000, pp 207-218)
Cannon, JoAnn: The Novel as Investigation: Leonardo Sciascia, Dacia Maraini and Antonio Tabucchi (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006)
Catturazza, Claudio (ed.): Dedica a Dacia Maraini (Trieste: Lint. 2002)
Cavallaro, Daniela: ‘I sogni di Clitennestra: The Oresteia according to Dacia Maraini’ (Italica 72, 1995, pp. 340-55)
— : ‘Con tutto da ricominciare: Vannina’s Spiritual Journey in Dacia Maraini’s Donna in guerra’ (Annali d'Italianistica (25), 2005, pp. 379-96)
Cruciata, Maria Antonietta: Dacia Maraini (Florence: Cadmo, 2003)
Dagnino, Pauline: ‘Fra madre e marito: The Mother/Daughter Relationship in Dacia Maraini’s Lettere a Marina’ in Visions and Revisions: Women in Italian Culture eds. Mirna Cicioni and Nicole Prunster (Providence: Berg, 1993, pp. 183-98)
Diaconescu-Blumenfeld, Rodica and Testaferri, Ada (eds.): The Pleasure of Writing. Critical Essays on Dacia Maraini (West Lafayette: 2000, Purdue University Press)
Fanning, Ursula: ‘Some Segments of Daughterly Discourse: Dacia Maraini’s Return to the Mother in La lunga vita di Marianna Ucrìa, Bagheria and La nave per Kobe’ in Narrativa italiana recente / Recent Italian Fiction ed. Roberto Bertoni (Turin: Trauben edizioni, 2005, pp. 121-33)
Gabriele, Tommasina: ‘From Prostitution to Transsexuality: Gender Identity and Subversive Sexuality in Dacia Maraini’ (MLN, January 2002, pp. 241-56)
— : ‘Too Sweet for the Sweet: Dacia Maraini’s Il treno per Helsinki’(Rivisti di studi Italian,i 22.1, June 2004, pp 69-77)
— : ‘The Pregnant Nun: Suor Attanasia and the Metaphor of Arrested Maternity in Dacia Maraini’(Italica, Spring 2004, pp. 65-80)
Gaglianone, Paola (ed.): Conversazione con Dacia Maraini: Il piacere di scrivere (Rome: Òmicron, 1995)
Gala, Candelas: ‘Identity and Writing: A Lacanian Reading of Alba de Céspedes’ Quaderno proibito and Dacia Maraini’s Donna in guerra’ (Forum Italicum, 37.1 (Spring 2003), pp. 147-60)
Giobbi, Giuliana: ‘A Blurred Picture: Adolescent Girls Growing up in Fanny Burney, George Eliot, Rosamond Lehmann, Elizabeth Bowen and Dacia Maraini’ (Journal of European Studies, No. 25, 1995, pp. 141-64)
Golini, Vera: ‘Italian women in search of identity in Dacia Maraini’s novels’ in International Women's Writing: New Landscapes of Identity eds.Anne E. Brown and Marjanne E. Goozé (Westport, CT: Contributions in Women's Studies, 1995, pp. 207-20)
Merry, Bruce: Dacia Maraini and the Written Dream of Women in Italian Literature (North Queensland: James Cook University, 1997)
Mitchell, Toni: ‘Scrittura femminile: Writing the Female in the Plays of Dacia Maraini’ (Theatre Journal, Vol. 42, No. 3, Women and/in Drama, 1990, pp. 332-49)
Montini, Ileana: Parlare con Dacia Maraini (Verona: Bertani, 1977)
Picchietti, Virginia: Relational Spaces. Daughterhood, Motherhood and Sisterhood in Dacia Maraini’s Writings and Films (Cranbury: Associated University Presses, 2002)
Riviello, Tonia Caterina: ‘The Motif of Entrapment in Elsa Morante’s L’isola di Arturo and Dacia Maraini’s L’età del malessere’ (Rivista di Studi Italiani 8:1-2, 1990, pp. 70-87)
Rutter, Itala T. C.: ‘Feminist Theory as Practice: Italian Feminism and the Work of Teresa de Lauretis and Dacia Maraini’ (Women’s Studies International Forum, vol. 13, no. 6, 1990, pp. 565-75)
Ryan-Scheutz, Colleen: ‘Page, Stage, Screen: The Languages of Silence in Maraini and Faenza’s La lunga vita di Marianna Ucrìa’ (MLN, 123, 2008, pp. 56-76)
Siggers Manson, Christina: ‘In love with Cecchino: Opening the Door to Violence in Dacia Maraini’s Colomba and Voci’ (Journal of Romance Studies (5:2), 2005, pp. 91-103)
— : ‘What’s Hell? Palermo without any Cake Shops”: Re-examining Oppression in Dacia Maraini’s Palermo’ (Journal of Romance Studies, Volume 7.1, 2007, pp. 79-93)
Sumeli Weinberg, M. Grazia: Invito alla lettura di Dacia Maraini (Pretoria: University of South Africa Press, 1993)
Tamburri, Anthony J.: ‘Dacia Maraini’s Donna in guerra: Victory or Defeat?’ in Contemporary Women Writers in Italy: A Modern Renaissance ed. Santo L. Aricò (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1990, pp. 139-51)
Wood, Sharon: ‘Women and Theatre in Italy: Natalia Ginzburg, Franca Rame and Dacia Maraini’ in Women in European Theatre ed. Elizabeth Woodrough (Oxford: Intellect, 1995, pp. 85-94)
Wright, Simona: ‘Dacia Maraini: Charting the Female Experience in the Quest-Plot: Marianna Ucrìa’ (Italian Quarterly (34:133-134), 1997, pp. 59-70)
— : ‘Intervista a Dacia Maraini’ (Italian Quarterly (34:133-134), 1997, pp. 71-91)
Compiled by Alex Standen (Birmingham)