Drawing on theories of autobiography, this chapter begins by investigating Ortese’s manipulation of the genre in her major novel Il porto di Toledo (1975), which revisits and incorporates Ortese’s early poems and stories and the author’s growing up in the transfigured town of Naples–Toledo. It particularly focuses on how the themes of bereavement, youth, love, war, and writing are shaped in her Bildungsroman through a complex and variegated intertextual dialogue with quotations from and allusions to authors from the Italian and European tradition, particularly Leopardi, Valéry, Villalón, Dumas, Petrarch, Conrad, and paintings by El Greco. First, the analysis focuses on the novel’s structure, linguistic practice, and hispanization. Then it explores the debt to Leopardi in Ortese’s shaping of the themes of loss of youth, transience and melancholy, identity, mourning, and the initiation to writing as a response to loss
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