The Reprisal: A Novel

Hardcover | March 29, 2013

byLaudomia BonanniTranslated bySusan Stewart, Sara Teardo

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In the bitterly cold winter of 1943, the Italian countryside is torn apart by violence as partisans wage a guerilla war against the occupying German army and their local fascist allies. In the midst of this conflict, a ragtag group of fascist supporters captures a woman in the late stages of pregnancy. Suspecting her of being in league with the partisans, they hastily put her on “trial” by improvising a war tribunal one night in the choir stalls of the abandoned monastery that serves as their hide-out. This sham court convicts the woman and sentences her to die—but not until her child has been born. When a young seminarian visits the monastery and tries to dissuade the fascist band from executing their sentence, the absurd tragedy of the woman’s fate is cast in stark relief. The child’s birth approaches, an unnerving anticipation unfolds, and tension mounts ominously among the characters and within their individual psyches.          

Based on a number of incidents that took place in Abruzzo during the war, Laudomia Bonanni’s compact and tragic novel explores the overwhelming conflicts between ideology and community, justice and vengeance. The story is embedded in the cruel reality of Italian fascism, but its themes of revenge, sacrifice, and violence emerge as universal, delivered in prose that is at once lyrical and brutal.
In her native Italy, Bonanni, a writer of journalism and critical prose as well as fiction, is hailed as one of the strongest proponents of post-war realism, and this is the first of her novels to be made available to Anglophone readers. Translators Susan Stewart and Sara Teardo render Bonanni’s singular style—both sparse and emotive, frank and poetic—into readable, evocative English.

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In the bitterly cold winter of 1943, the Italian countryside is torn apart by violence as partisans wage a guerilla war against the occupying German army and their local fascist allies. In the midst of this conflict, a ragtag group of fascist supporters captures a woman in the late stages of pregnancy. Suspecting her of being in league...

Laudomia Bonanni   (1907–2002) was one of the preeminent Italian writers of the mid-twentieth century, and this is her first book to be translated into English. Susan Stewart is the Avalon Foundation University Professor in the Humanities and director of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University. A former MacAr...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:176 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.9 inPublished:March 29, 2013Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226063801

ISBN - 13:9780226063805

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction

A Note on the Translation

Acknowledgments
The Reprisal: A Novel

Editorial Reviews

“Laudomia Bonanni’s The Reprisal, available in English translation for the first time thanks to the University of Chicago Press, is a disorienting, confusing novel, and all the more successful for it.  Initially rejected by Bonanni’s publisher in 1985 . . . this novel could have become any number of others instead, or so easily could have not existed at all. It occupies—perhaps especially in translation—a rich liminal space appropriate to its recounting of difficult-to-pin-down events. . . . Bonanni’s purposes seem to be moral as much as aesthetic, as well as gendered: a driving force here is a no-punches-pulled critique of the warmongering of men. . . . Bonanni simultaneously undercuts the presumptuous foolishness of such masculine schemes and offsets that with a certain sympathy toward these men, who have been overwhelmed by and swept up in global events so much larger than their own village lives—yet she never lightens the load of culpability for their own actions. That uncomfortable, unresolvable balance makes The Reprisal a challenging, bleak, and haunting read—and a vital one.”