“The Signorina” and Other Stories

  • Author: Anna Banti
  • Translators: Martha King, Carol Lazzaro-Weiss
  • Pages: xxxiii & 171 pp.
  • Published: 2001
  • ISBN: 9780873527927 (Paperback)
The Signorina and Other Stories Cover
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“The translators offer a highly successful rendition of the original, especially in view of the fact that Banti uses a rare and sometimes archaic vocabulary together with very long sentences. It is little wonder that with her powerful and interesting narratives she is considered by many to be among the best Italian writers of the twentieth century.”

—Patrick M. Gathercole, Roanoke College

“The collection is very nicely balanced, with styles ranging from the patently autobiographical to the fantastic. . . . An excellent addition to the MLA Texts and Translations series.”

—Robert J. Rodini, author of Ludovico Ariosto: An Annotated Bibliography of Criticism, 1956–1980

Greatly influenced by writers ranging from Dickens and Proust to Woolf and Colette, Anna Banti was a prominent figure on the Italian literary scene from the 1940s until her death in 1985. The five tales in “The Signorina” and Other Stories display her talent across many genres—fiction, science fiction, historical fiction, mystery.

Banti’s stories portray the ageless conflict between the expectations of society and the aspirations of the individual. In “Uncertain Vocations,” the young Ofelia becomes a pianist after her marriage prospects fail, but self-doubt turns her success into miserable mediocrity. In the futuristic “The Women Are Dying,” men acquire a new evolutionary ability; women, lacking that ability, are consigned to the status of an inferior race. “Joveta of Betania,” set in the time of the Crusades, follows the daughter of King Baldwin II of Jerusalem as she escapes to a life of seclusion as an abbess—a life that becomes for her a source of proud freedom and deep bitterness. In “Sailing Ships,” a young boy creates an imaginary world from an uncertain childhood memory. “The Signorina” tells of a young woman who eventually finds herself, as a writer.

Anna Banti was the pseudonym of Lucia Lopresti-Longhi (1895–1985), the author of eight novels (including the widely acclaimed Artemisia), a play, and seven collections of short stories. She wrote critical works on artists from Fra Angelico to Monet and translated works by Alain-Fournier, Thackeray, and Woolf, among others.