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ROSALBA. The story of her development

L’autore: Simone Francescato


Written under the pseudonym of Olive Pratt Rayner, also used for The Type-Writer Girl (1897), Rosalba: The Story of Her Development (1899) is the last completed novel by the prolific Canadian-born writer Grant Allen. Partly set in the lavish Colli Berici, near Vicenza, this sentimental comedy of emancipation tells the story of a bilingual Italian girl who embarks on a journey across Europe which will lead her to discover the truth about her past and finally attain happiness. Perhaps more than his earlier novels, Rosalba can be seen as the ultimate exemplification of Allen’s evolutionist thought.

Aunt Emily’s villa, where I write these lines, stands with its pink-washed walls on the terraced slope of the Monti Berici. A close screen of tapering black cypresses cuts it off from the olive-yard. Cicalas buzz there. From the round-arched loggia with its Corinthian pillars – antiques, I fancy – you look down past the gnarled mulberry-tree on the burnt-up grass-plot to the mouldering balustrade: and over the balustrade you may catch blue glimpses of the shining plain, or in the distance the Alps, just seen through the shimmering haze of Lombardy. Below, cam- paniles of neighbouring villages: Romanesque campaniles, with twin round-topped windows set high on their tow- ers. Everything mossy and lichen-stained and broken-nosed, from the armless Apollo on the pedestal by the para- pet to the nymphs that pour driblets of water, by green oozy tags, from their cracked urn in the grotto by the arbu- tus. And that is Italy!


Grant Allen (1848-1899) was a science writer, a novelist and a major supporter of the theory of evolution. He became widely known for his controversial novel The Woman Who Did (1895), his book The Evolution of the Idea of God (1897), and the pioneering sci-fi novel The British Barbarians (1895). Allen also authored a series of historical guides including The European Tour (1899), Venice (1898) and The Cities of Northern Italy (published posthumously in 1901 and written in collaboration with George C. Williamson).

Simone Francescato teaches Anglo-American Literature and Culture at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. His cur- rent areas of research include late 19th-century Anglo-American literature and the cultural history of American tourism in Europe. He is the author of Collecting and Appreciating: Henry James and the Transformation of Aesthetics in the Age of Consumption (2010).

Formato: 13,5X21 Pagine: 284 Legatura: Brossura Lingua: inglese Collana: Le Tre Venezie: turismo e letteratura Prezzo: 18 euro Uscita: dicembre 2012