The Impossibility of Motherhood in Oriana Fallaci’sLettera a un bambino mai nato

Michela Prevedello, University of Bristol

This article examines the represen tation of motherhood in the novel Lettera a un bambino mai nato , written by the writer and journalist Oriana Fallaci in 1975, when feminist groups were addressing the issue of motherhood, and battles for the legalisation of abortion were taking place in Italy. In focusing on the question of maternity, the novel b ecomes part of the feminist critiques of the 1970s. At the same time, it reshapes and elabor ates the painful experience of miscarriage which the writer went through some time before. Through a close reading of the text, this study seeks to interrogate the different discourses that, in their multiplicity, configure the concept of motherhood in this controversial and ambivalent narrative. The novel seeks to construct a new, non-patriarchal concept of motherhood. Nevertheless, the question of maternity remains intractable and unresolvable within the novel. The text, blurring fiction and autobiography, represents the impracticability of a different conception of motherhood within the social and cultural constraints of the time. The search for a non-patriarchal motherhood, centred on women’s re-appropriation of their autonomy, creativity and sexuality, ends with the protagonist’s miscarriage and her probable death.

Keywords: Oriana Fallaci, women writers, motherhood, abortion, feminism

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