The Route to Transnational Womanliness in Nina Berberova’s "The Italics are Mine" (1969)
Copyright (c) 2022 Michele Russo
Questo lavoro è fornito con la licenza Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 4.0 Internazionale.
The Italics are Mine is not only an account of Berberova’s memories of her emigration from Russia through western Europe to the US. It is a narrative experiment which deconstructs social and literary conventions by using different narrative forms (see Russo 2020, 27; see also Todorov 1981, 95-6). The writer includes letters, essays, poems, and lists, so as to trace her past, as well as to relocate her self in western Europe first, and in North America later.
This study will dwell on Berberova’s emigration to western Europe and to the US and, in particular, on her memoirs of her journeys to the southern regions of the US. In her descriptions of southern lands of the US, she tends to show little reticence about her sexual orientations (see Peterson 2001, 503). By considering de Beauvoir’s remarks (1997, 20-34) on unequal relationships between men and women, and Kristeva’s theories (1994, 183-4) on the alienation of the self, this work aims to analyse Berberova’s physical and metaphorical transnational travelling (see Cronin 2009, 9; see Zaccaria 2017, 32-8), which leads her to look into her inner world and to re-explore her sexuality.
Finally, the paper will centre on the unpublished sequel to Berberova’s biography, “Deathbed Dialogues,” in order to give insight into the writer’s depiction of her achieved womanliness, of what being a woman means. It will delve into Berberova’s transcultural passage to her North American identity (see Kalb 2001, 141-46), bringing to light her subversive attitude and her sexual orientation.