Dichotomous conceptualisations of female friendship in 20th and 21st century Italian literature – a comparison of Alba de Céspedes, Anna Banti, Elena Ferrante, and Donatella Di Pietrantonio


  • Martina Pala



parole chiave:

Female Friendship, Girlhood, Women's writing, Feminist Studies, Italian Literature


Female friendship played a minor role in 20th century Italian narrative and this theme seems to have emerged only recently in Italian and European literature. Nevertheless, it offers an interesting lens through which to reflect on female narrative across time. This paper will first analyse the conceptualisation of female friendship by two authors who were the cornerstones of 20th century Italian (female) narrative – Anna Banti and Alba de Céspedes. It will then compare it to the representation of female friendship in contemporary authors, like Elena Ferrante and Donatella Di Pietrantonio. I will argue that Banti and de Céspedes’ representations of female friendships are dichotomous. The young protagonist of Banti’s Itinerario di Paolina (1937) avoids female bonds as a consequence of her attempts to escape from patriarchal restrictions, while Alessandra in de Céspedes’ Dalla parte di lei (1949) conceptualises female bonds as constitutive of her own and free identity from a very tender age. Building on this analysis, this paper shall then assess the extent to which 21st century authors like Ferrante and Di Pietrantonio have echoed or changed the representation of female bonds and in turn reproduce the dichotomous conceptualisation of female friendship in their narratives. It will argue that while reproducing a dichotomous representation of female friendships similar to that of de Céspedes and Banti, this is actually underpinned by the same ideological standpoint in both authors, because they both see female friendship as the ground to forge women’s identities and fight the patriarchal struggles of their times.




come citare

Pala, M. «Dichotomous Conceptualisations of Female Friendship in 20th and 21st Century Italian Literature – a Comparison of Alba De Céspedes, Anna Banti, Elena Ferrante, and Donatella Di Pietrantonio». Altrelettere, maggio 2022, doi:10.5903/al_uzh-59.