Goliarda Sapienza's 'French Connections'

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This chapter explores the status of France and French culture in Sapienza’s work, and teases out the symbolic significance of her engagements with actors, cultural texts, politics and places. Issues discussed include her identification with the film actor Jean Gabin, her views of French feminism, and her depictions of the sexual politics of interwar Paris. Aspects of France and its culture seem to have taken on almost mythic dimensions in her thought, constituting fragments of an imagined cultural ‘other’, offering a cherished virtual space for cross-gender identification, or evoked as somehow superior to the Italian context, since it has produced feminist thinkers like Simone de Beauvoir. I discuss Sapienza’s idiosyncratic investments in French culture, and explore the meanings that she attributes to the products, ambiences and icons that she draws into her work and which arguably contribute in important ways to her sense of self. Drawing on the work of Sara Ahmed, I argue that Sapienza’s textual selves can be seen to struggle with disorienting misalignment, and therefore are sometimes unable to extend into the world about them, inhabiting it only partially. I suggest that Sapienza creates her own ‘orientation devices’, opening up folds of fiction within reality, or narrations of reality, so that she can more fully inhabit herself and her surroundings. One strategy of re-alignment that she employs involves forging a series of what, for the purposes of my discussion, I am calling ‘French connections’: connections that enable Sapienza to articulate a sense of 'otherness' that transforms her habitus.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGoliarda Sapienza in context:
Subtitle of host publicationintertextual relationships with Italian and European culture
EditorsAlberica Bazzoni, Emma Bond, Katrin Wehling-Giorgi
Place of PublicationMadison
PublisherFairleigh Dickinson University Press
ChapterPart 1, Chapter 5
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781611479171
ISBN (Print)9781611479164
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

Publication series

NameThe Fairleigh Dickinson University Press Series in Italian Studies
PublisherRowman & Littlefield


  • Goliarda Sapienza
  • Gender Identity
  • Feminism
  • French connections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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