mercoledì 13 febbraio 2013

Miss Gennaio

Il mio nuovo articolo per Inutile, "Miss Gennaio", pubblicato a febbraio per un disguido: poco male, non è mai troppo tardi per scoprire Ombretta Frau.

Ombretta Frau during one of her lectures, downloaded from Mount Holyoke College website. I still don't understand why there's a guy in the picture.

On this magazine I should talk about art, certainly not literature, but since it's January, and on gossip websites is all a big talk about hot girls calendars, I thought I should give my contribution to the cause by telling you about one of the most beautiful, fascinating and intelligent women to be found among the international Italian literature scholars: Ombretta Frau.Don't be fooled by the German surname, she is Italian, actually Sardinian, and after an Excellence in Teaching Award won at Harvard University (!), now she teaches at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts (the one where Emily Dickinson studied). In spite of  her beauty and the fabulous shoes she wears - that could make you believe she is a character from Sex&TheCity (something that both you and her should still consider a compliment) - from my point of view Ombretta Frau is a true indie riot.I was lucky to attend her lectures on nineteenth-century Italian literature at University of Bologna thanks to the initiative of a wonderful professor, Stefano Colangelo (one of those professors that can change your life).
I mean, can you imagine something potentially more boring than nineteenth-century Italian literature? Well, the literary undergrowth in which she guided us made me discover a number of writers whose stories of life and whose works made me go out of my mind. Mantea, Yolanda,
Mara Antelling, Emma Boghen Conigliani, Evelyn, Anna Franchi and Flavia Steno were all influential people at that time, and have been all forgotten because they published their writings mainly on magazines for young girls. But in between, among etiquette tips and fashion advices, were hidden more powerful teachings, things that our girls don't find in the pages of contemporary novels, as Twilight.One in all, the life of Mantea who met in Italy this beautiful, colored man from Hawaii, at the time in Europe with a scholarship for talented young people. They falled in love, they got married and Mantea followed him back to Honolulu in 1887, with a daring journey, murder of the Prince of Hawaii included. Her life and her journal, beyond scandals and prejudices, is the testimony of a person in search of her identity without politically correct playacting.There is a book that I have not read yet, Sottoboschi Letterari, about these authors, but I don't know if a writing, which is necessarily more institutional, can convey what Ombretta Frau's voice was able to communicate to me. So I think that the best thing you can do is to put in your pocket a TOEFL certificate, apply at Mount Holyoke College for a year as Italian Language Foreign Fellow and with the excuse of attending Ombretta Frau's lectures, live a year in USA, giving in exchange your perfect italian pronunciation as language assistent for the american students. Application expires every year on February 1,  this year is too late, but you can apply next year. The only problem is that if you are not a women you first need to make a trip to Casablanca... Mount Holyoke is a college for girls...

Recommended readings:- Ombretta Frau, Mantea, Espatriata. Da Torino a Honolulu, Salerno Editrice, Roma 2007
- Ombretta Frau, Cristina Gragnani, Sottoboschi letterari. Sei case studies fra Otto e Novecento. Mara Antelling, Emma Boghen Conigliani, Evelyn, Anna Franchi, Jolanda, Flavia Steno, Firenze University Press, Firenze 2011.

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