This chapter explores Ortese’s early texts, which reveal Ortese’s writing originating from loss, such as autobiographical bereavement, separation, and melancholy. The elegy ‘Manuele’ (1933) and the short stories ‘Pellerossa’ and ‘Il capitano’ (from Angelici dolori, 1937) are autobiographical texts centred around the brother figura, as an emblem of a deep-rooted familial bond, which is severed in conjunction with the end of childhood and youth. ‘La cura’ (1942) broadens the spectrum of the short-story genre in its depiction of melancholy within a tale on love and abandonment. As well as presenting the early shaping of central themes and recurring topoi, the chapter foregrounds Ortese’s quotations from and allusions to Dante, Petrarch, Leopardi, Pascoli, D’Annunzio, Heinrich Heine, and draws parallels with Lamarque and Svevo. The analysis engages with cultural, anthropological, and psychoanalytical studies of mourning and melancholy (Freud, Kristeva, Klein, De Martino, Borgna)
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