Bianchini, Angela (1921-)
Angela Bianchini was born in Rome, where she spent the first twenty years of her life and where she resides today. In 1941 she emigrated to the United States because of the so-called "racial laws" promulgated by the Fascist regime in 1938. She attended Johns Hopkins University, studied with Leo Spitzer, who was also an exile, and earned a PhD in Romance Philology. In 1952 she returned to Rome and started writing for prestigious periodicals and journals, Il Mondo, Tempo presente and L'Espresso, and for the programs of RAI, the Italian radio and TV. She writes for La Stampa and Tuttolibri as well as the RAI, and is a prominent figure in Italian cultural life.
Most of her essays discuss topics of twentieth-century Italian, Spanish, and Latin American literature. However, her interests are not limited to those fields. In 1969 she published an essay on nineteenth-century culture and the serial novel, Il romanzo d'appendice, which was revised and reprinted in 1988 with the title La luce a gas e il feuilleton: due invenzioni dell'Ottocento. In 1979 Garzanti published Romanzi medievali d'amore e d'avventura in her translation from Old French, with a preface by Spitzer. In 1987, again for Garzanti, she curated an edition of the letters that a Renaissance lady, the Florentine Alessandra Macinghi Strozzi, wrote to her sons. The title of that work, for which Bianchini wrote an exhaustive and perceptive introduction, is Tempo d'affetti e di mercanti. In 1996 Frassinelli reprinted a volume entitled Voce donna, a diachronic essay on women inspired by the women's movement, which Bompiani had published in 1979.
Her first fiction, three novellas entitled "Gli oleandri," "Festa dell'indipendenza," and "Lungo equinozio," appeared under the title Lungo equinozio in 1962. The themes that are central to Bianchini's fictional universe are already in evidence: the intertwining of private passions and historical events, the anguish of exile, the disenchanted realization of the elusiveness of all returns, and the mysterious quality of love in all its forms. In 1965 came Le nostre distanze, a novel situated on a barely disguised Johns Hopkins campus. The protagonist, a young woman exiled from her country, discovers the charms of an American campus and an American city, the passion for intellectual pursuits, and also the hypocrisies and cruelties of a closed society. La ragazza in nero followed in 1990. A young woman, her mother, and a fascinating grandmother are its protagonists, but Rome is more than a background to their lives; it is as seductive and mysterious as the "girl in black:"of the title. One of Bianchini's best works is Capo d'Europa, which was published in 1991 and reprinted in 1998. It is a narrative about seldom-explored aspects of the Jewish experience in the 1930s and 1940s in Europe. An Italian girl becomes aware of what the Diaspora is and her place in it, during a three-day stopover in Lisbon as she is awaiting passage to the United States.
The historical moment evoked in Le labbra tue sincere (1995) is the very early twentieth century. A British journalist filled with nostalgia for the Rome he used to know meets three fascinating women. They belong to the new high bourgeoisie that is transforming Rome, which has recently become the capital of the Italian kingdom. A sense of loss and an aura of youthful energy that carries the promise of renewal permeate the novel.
Un amore sconveniente (1999) is the story of a love that, as the title states, is judged by society not improper perhaps—although the term chosen suggests it—but certainly unsuitable and damaging. The novel chronicles the stages of a passion, its heartaches, and the disastrous effects of the liaison and then the marriage between the two protagonists, a Jewish intellectual and a beautiful but opportunistic woman. The time is the first half of the twentieth century with its crescendo of turmoil and persecutory rage.
With Nevada (2002) Bianchini returns to an American setting, the State of Nevada in the early 1950s. Young and not-so-young women flock to the State that grants easy divorces after a residency of only forty-two days. The stage is set in the classic manner. All the novel's characters are the guests of a dude ranch that caters solely to them. They cannot leave; they are forced to remain in one location as if "cloistered." An unfamiliar landscape surrounds them, and their stories are a secret. Although the premise suggests pathetic developments, Bianchini gives the women's unhappy plots the fragrance of youthful passion. The narration flows at a lively pace. In the background, essential to the story as any of the characters, there is the American West, a fabulous and forbidding immensity.
Submitted by Angela M. Jeannet, Franklin & Marshall College, 2004.
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