These are the opening words of Anna Banti’s novel Artemisia. Who is talking? And when? The first-person voice – that of the author – writes. Artemisia Gentileschi, born in , the daughter of an esteemed painter, taught art in Naples and painted the great women of Roman and biblical history. Anna Banti was an Italian writer, art historian, critic, and translator. Contents. 1 Life and works One newspaper even headlined their report of Banti’s death by saying Addio, Artemisia. This work revived interest in Artemesia’s work and life.

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Literature and literary criticismFictionNovelsFeminism. The Nazi occupation of Florence, following the collapse of the Mussolini Government, has taken its appalling, final turn.

There is fighting, gunfire.

Follow the Author

It will be another seven days before the aretmisia city is liberated by the Allies. Artemisi have clustered higher up, at the Forte di Belvedere, from which she descended a little earlier; here, she writes, there is no one nearby.

Soon she will stand and look at the rubble lining the Arno. And a whole day will pass. Who is talking to whom? It is the stricken author talking to herself, telling herself to be brave.

For what the reader holds is, of course, the novel written — written again — in the following three years, and published in latewhen Anna Banti the pen name of Lucia Lopresti was 52 years old. Although she was to publish 16 works of fiction and autobiographical prose before her death at the age of 90, inthis — her second novel — is the one that assures her a place in world literature.


A phoenix of a book, written out of the ashes of another book, the novel is a tribute to bitterness and to tenacity — that of the bereft little girl of the early s who will, against all odds, become a renowned painter, that of the bereaved author who will write a novel that is surely more original than the one consumed in the fires of war.

Loss has made the author free to enter the book, talking to herself and to Artemisia.

Susan Sontag · A Double Destiny: Anna Banti’s Artemisia · LRB 25 September

It is a love relationship yet to be fully described: Never has the passion of novelist for protagonist been so intently formulated. The lost novel has been recast as a novel about a haunting. Nothing so crude as an identification: Anna Banti does not find herself in Artemisia Gentileschi — any more, or artemisa, than Woolf thinks that she is Orlando.

On the contrary, Artemisia is for ever bahti supremely someone else. And the novelist is her thrall — her amanuensis. Sometimes Artemisia is coquettishly inaccessible.

The game of concealment is mutual: At one moment Banti claims she no longer cares for the book that was nearly finished: Why should she be dismissed? If Artemisia artemusia still a ghost and not a weighty, strange name, she would shudder at my disrespectful digressions.

Anna Banti

An author who may be arteimsia as a lover of sorts is, inevitably, one who insists on being there — brooding, interrupting, prowling about in her book. Relentlessly dialogical it is in the nature of the language of love to be dialogicalthe novel offers an impassioned mix of first and third-person voices.


The third-person voice offers classically detached, omniscient narration or, much of the time, aryemisia warmer variant called free indirect discourse, which clings so closely to the thoughts of a character that it amounts to a transposed or disguised first person.

The full text of this essay is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books. The changes she made in the character or life were in the name of her uniquely possessive relation to Artemisia bxnti, beloved, sorrow-sister, familiarand are avowed; they are part of the emotional play of the novel.

Artemisia (Italian Edition): Anna Banti: : Books

And she would have been 12 when she executed her first major painting, Susanna and the Elderssigned and dated The legal suit that precipitated the rape trial against Agostino Tassi was brought not by her but by her father, Orazio Gentileschi.

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