Biographies and Autobiographies in Modern Italy
A Festschrift for John Woodhouse

Edited by Martin McLaughlin and Peter Hainsworth

Legenda (General Series)


23 February 2007  •  230pp

ISBN: 978-1-905981-07-6 (hardback)  •  RRP £80, $110, €95


Critical interest in biography and autobiography has never been higher. However, while life-writing flourishes in the UK, in Italy it is a less prominent genre. The twelve essays collected here are therefore breaking new ground by addressing issues in biographical and autobiographical writing in Italy from the later nineteenth century to the present, with a particular emphasis on the interplay between individual lives and life-writing and the wider social and political history of Italy. The majority of essays focus on well-known writers (D'Annunzio, Svevo, Bontempelli, Montale, Levi, Calvino, Eco and Fallaci), and their varying anxieties about autobiographical writing in their work. This picture is rounded out by a series of studies of similar themes in lesser known figures: the critic Enrico Nencioni, the Welsh-Italian painter Llewellyn Lloyd and Italian writers and journalists covering the Spanish Civil War.

The volume is dedicated to John Woodhouse, on his seventieth birthday, and concludes with a bibliography of his writings.

Peter Hainsworth was Professor of Italian at the University of Oxford until 2003. Martin McLaughlin is FIAT-Serena Professor of Italian Studies at the University of Oxford.


  • ‘Hainsworth and McLaughlin open the volume with a succinct, clear and meaty disquisition on the nature of biography and autobiography. Their Introduction furnishes, in lively prose, an overview of the state of such writing in Italy... A fascinating glimpse into the life histories, and the shaping of life histories, by an eclectic group of Italians. Its chapters provide useful information on the less-known and engrossing new insights into familiar canonical figures.’ — Risa Sodi, Biography 32.3, Summer 2009, pp. 562-65
  • ‘These pieces all share John Woodhouse's sentiment that the life lived and written by an author are "mutually illuminating" and that writing loses much when "seen solely within the terms of a textual universe".’ — unsigned, Forum for Modern Language Studies 46.1, January 2010, 107-08


Peter Hainsworth, Martin McLaughlin
The Public and the Private in Modern Italian Literature: The Case of Montale
Peter Hainsworth
The Battle of the Biographers: Primo Levi and ‘Life-Writing’
Robert S. C. Gordon
Enrico Nencioni: An Italian Victorian
Giuliana Pieri
Pescara and the Abruzzo in the Imagination of Gabriele D’Annunzio
Gianni Oliva
British Material for the Biography of a Tuscan: Llewelyn Lloyd (1879–1949)
T. Gwynfor Griffith
Italo Svevo: Journalism and the Life of a Writer
Antonella Braida
Intellectual (Auto-)Biography in Bontempelli
Jon Usher
Italian War-Correspondents and The Spanish Civil War: Propaganda and Autobiography
Charles Burdett
Concessions to Autobiography in Calvino
Martin McLaughlin
Umberto Eco: Autobiography into Romance
Jane E. Everson
The Dummy Interlocutor and Oriana Fallaci’s Self-Projection in La rabbia e l’orgoglio
John Gatt-Rutter

Bibliography entry:

McLaughlin, Martin, and Peter Hainsworth (eds), Biographies and Autobiographies in Modern Italy (Cambridge: Legenda, 2007)

First footnote reference: 35 Biographies and Autobiographies in Modern Italy, ed. by Martin McLaughlin and Peter Hainsworth (Cambridge: Legenda, 2007), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 McLaughlin and Hainsworth, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

McLaughlin, Martin, and Peter Hainsworth (eds). 2007. Biographies and Autobiographies in Modern Italy (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (McLaughlin and Hainsworth 2007: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 McLaughlin and Hainsworth 2007: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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