Donne nate male, amicizie colpevoli e quelle profonde come una parentela: Marise Ferro's queerly desiring women

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Abstract: This article offers a reading of Marise Ferro’s works, which have received scant critical attention, but which constitute important instances of queer representation. Focusing on a series of novels published between 1932-72, it reveals how Ferro revisited the topic of desire between women many times, perhaps more than any other Italian author in this period, despite suffering censorship during Fascism. Drawing on queer theory and work on “intimate friendships” (Vicinus), this article argues that Ferro’s portrayals of same-sex love are characterized by complexity as she both challenges heteronormativity and condemns perverse desires. Her depictions of queer longing bear the imprint of bio-medical pathologizations of congenital homosexuality, but also encourage empathy, and, strikingly, while death and misery abound, her desiring protagonists are not killed off, as happens in many texts that represent non-normative sexualities. The reception of Ferro’s novels is also discussed: while supported by Arnoldo Mondadori in the 1930s, early work received quite negative reviews, particularly in relation to perceived sexual degeneracy. In the few analyses published recently, there is no mention of her approach to queer sexuality. By contrast, the present article engages critically with her challenging work, and reappraises her representations of desiring women
Original languageEnglish
JournalItalian Culture
Early online date5 Jul 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jul 2016


  • Marise Ferro
  • heteronormativity
  • Friendship
  • lesbianism
  • queer desire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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