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Colonising the Novel: Voice and Chorality in Ghermandi's Regina di fiori e di perle. Moving beyond to Redefine the Boundaries of Italian Literature

Gregoria Manzin


In Gabriella Ghermandi's first novel, Regina di fiori e di perle (2007), multiple voices narrate the stories of the Ethiopian people. These stories are collected by a cantora, Mahlet, a little girl at the start of the novel who grows into a young woman leaving Ethiopia to study in Italy. When Mahlet returns to her home country to mourn the death of the elder Yacob, she becomes the unaware recipient of her people's heritage, consigned to her custody in the form of stories and memories. Echoing the long tradition of African story telling, Ghermandi's novel traces a collective history in which constituent voices remain capable of asserting their own unicity. This paper argues that Ghermandi's novel moves beyond the traditional paradigm of (post-) colonial literature and is instead predicated on a transnational dimension, one that seeks to defeat the barriers of Otherness erected during the historical moment of encounter between the two countries. While Ghermandi's novel can be looked at as a Bildungsroman, the journey through Ethiopian history sketched by the writer places voice in sharp relief. Through a theoretical framework drawing on Adriana Cavarero's filosofia della narrazione and filosofia dell'espressione vocale, this paper explores the function of combined voices, stories and memories in the shaping of Mahlet's own identity journey, while unravelling the role they play in the process of rewriting the colonial experience in Ethiopia.

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Spunti e Ricerche. Rivista d'italianistica.
ISSN (Print): 0816-5432.
ISSN (Electronic): 2200-8942.