Guidacci, Margherita 1921–1992

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Guidacci, Margherita 1921–1992

PERSONAL: Born April 25, 1921, in Florence, Italy; died June 19, 1992; married Luca Pinna (a writer and sociologist), 1949; children: Lorenzo, Antonio, Elisa. Education: University of Florence, degree in literature, 1943.

CAREER: Teacher of English language and Anglo-American literature, beginning 1947; professor at state lycees in Rome, Italy, 1954–72; University of Macerata, professor, 1972–82; Instituto Universitario di Magistero Maria Assunta, professor, 1982–92.

AWARDS, HONORS: Grazie award, 1948; Carducci award, 1957; Cervia award, 1965; Ceppo award, 1971; Gabiece award, 1974; Lerici award, 1975; Scanno award, 1976; Biella award, 1978; Pontano award, 1980; Silvi award, 1981; Tagliacozzo award, 1983; Basilicata award, 1988.


La sabbia e l'angelo (title means "The Sand and the Angel"), Vallecchi (Florence, Italy), 1946.

Morte del ricco (title means "Death of the Rich Man"), Vallecchi (Florence, Italy), 1954.

Giorno dei santi (title means "All Saints' Day"), All'Insegna del Pesce d'Oro (Milan, Italy), 1957.

Paglia e polvere (title means "Straw and Dust"), Rebellato (Cittadella Veneta, Italy), 1961.

Un cammino incerto/Un chemin incertain, bilingual edition, translation by Arthur Praille, Cahiers d'Origine (Luxembourg), 1970.

Neurosuite, Neri Pozza (Vicenza, Italy), 1970, selection of ten poems translated by Marina La Palma as Poems from Neurosuite, Kelsey St. (Berkeley, CA), 1975.

Terra senza orologi, Edizioni 32 (Milan, Italy), 1973. (With Giuseppe Banchieri) Quindici poesie e sette disegni, Edizioni 32 (Milan, Italy), 1973.

Studi su Eliot, Istituto Propaganda Libraria (Milan, Italy), 1975.

Taccuino slavo, Locusta (Vicenza, Italy), 1976.

Il vuoto e le forme, Rebellato (Quarto d'Altino, Italy), 1977.

Studi su poeti e narratori americani, EDES (Cagliari, Italy), 1978.

Poesie, Biblioteca Universitale Rizzole (Milan, Italy), 1979.

L'altare di Isenheim, Rusconi (Milan, Italy), 1980.

Brevi e lunghe poesie (title means "Short and Long Poems"), edited by Brenno Bucciarelli, Libreria Editrice Vaticana (Vatican City), 1980.

L'orologio di Bologna, Città di Vita (Florence, Italy), 1981.

Inno alla gioia (title means "Hymn to Joy"), Centro Internazionale del Libro (Florence, Italy), 1983.

Aspetti ed eredità della poesia Europea dell'ottocento, Studium (Rome, Italy), 1984.

La via crucis dell'umanità (title means "The Stations of the Cross of Humanity"), Città di Vita (Florence, Italy), 1984.

Incontro con Margherita Guidacci: Antologia di poesia scelta dall' autrice, Cassa Rurale ed Artigiana del Mugello (Scarperia, Italy), 1986.

Liber fulguralis, Hobelix (Messina, Italy), 1986.

Poesie per poeti (title means "Poems for Poets"), Istituto Propaganda Libraria (Milan, Italy), 1987.

Una breve misura, Vecchio Faggio (Chieti, Italy), 1988. Il buio e lo splendore (title means "Darkness and Splendor"), Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1989, part I translated by Ruth Feldman as A Book of Sibyls, Rowan Tree (Boston, MA), 1989.

Landscape with Ruins: Selected Poetry, translated by Ruth Feldman, introduction by Gian-Paolo Biasin, Wayne State University Press (Detroit, MI), 1992.

Anelli nel tempo, Citta di Vita (Florence, Italy), 1993.

In the Eastern Sky: Selected Poetry, translation by Catherine O'Brien, Dedalus (Dublin, Ireland), 1993.

Prose e interviste, CRT (Pistoia, Italy), 1999.

Le poesie, edited by Maura del Serra, Le Lettere (Firenze, Italy), 1999.


John Donne, Sermoni, Libreria Editrice Fiorentina (Florence, Italy), 1946.

Max Beerbohm, L'ipocrita beato, Vallecchi (Florence, Italy), 1946.

Emily Dickinson, Poesie, Cya (Florence, Italy), 1947, bilingual edition, Rizzoli (Milan, Italy), 1979.

Sacre rappresentazioni inglesi, Libreria Editrice Fiorentina (Florence, Italy), 1950.

Emmanuel Mounier, L'avventura cristiana, Libreria Editrice Fiorentina (Florence, Italy), 1951.

Robert Frost, Albero alla finestra, Scheiwiller (Milan, Italy), 1956.

George Gissing, Sulla riva dello Fonio, Cappelli (Bologna, Italy), 1957.

Tu Fu, Desiderio di pace, Scheiwiller (Milan, Italy), 1957.

Ezra Pound, Patria mia, Centro Internazionale del Libro (Florence, Italy), 1958.

Ezra Pound, A lume spento, Scheiwiller (Milan, Italy), 1958.

Sophocles, Le Trachinie, Centro Internazionale del Libro (Florence, Italy), 1958.

Archibald MacLeish, Quattro poesie, Scheiwiller (Milan, Italy), 1958.

Antichi racconti cinesi, Cappelli (Bologna, Italy), 1959.

Jorge Guillén, Federico in persona: Carteggio, Schei-willer (Milan, Italy), 1960.

Henry James, Roderick Hudson, Cappelli (Bologna, Italy), 1960.

Joseph Conrad, Destino, Bompiani (Milan, Italy), 1961.

Racconti popolari irlandesi, Cappelli (Bologna, Italy), 1961.

Emily Dickinson, Poesie e lettere, Sansoni (Florence, Italy), 1961.

Mark Twain, Vita sul Mississippi, Opere Nuove (Rome, Italy), 1962.

T'ao Ch'ien (T'ao Yüan-ming), Poema per la bellezza della sua donna, Scheiwiller (Milan, Italy), 1962, published as Poema d'amore, 1970.

Joseph Conrad, Racconti ascoltati; Ultimi saggi, Bompiani (Milan, Italy), 1963.

Edith Sitwell, Autobiografia, Rizzoli (Milan, Italy), 1968.

(And editor, with Giovanni Giudici) Mao Tse-tung, Quattro poesie, Scheiwiller (Milan, Italy), 1971.

Vello Salo, Poeti estoni, ABETE (Rome, Italy), 1975.

Christopher Smart, Inno a David e altre poesie, Einaudi (Turin, Italy), 1975.

John Paul II, Pietra di luce, Libreria Editrice Vaticana (Vatican City), 1979.

(With Alekandra Kurczab) John Paul II, Il sapore del pane: Poesie, Libreria Editrice Vaticana (Vatican City), 1979.

Due antichi poeti cinesi, Scheiwiller (Milan, Italy), 1980.

Padraig J. Daly, Dall'orlo marino del mondo, Libreria Editrice Vaticana (Vatican City), 1981.

(With Alekandra Kurczab) John Paul II, Giobbe ed altri inediti: Un dramma e sei poesie, Libreria Editrice Vaticana (Vatican City), 1982.

Elizabeth Bishop, L'arte di perdere, bilingual edition, Rusconi (Milan, Italy), 1982.

Jessica Powers, Luogo di splendore: Poesie, Libreria Editrice Vaticana (Vatican City), 1982.

Sarah Orne Jewett, Lady Ferry e altri racconti, Donne (Milan, Italy), 1982.

(With Vello Salo and Lorenzo Pinna) Friedebert Tuglas, Ultimo addio; Popi e Huhuu; Il cerchio d'oro: Un romanzo breve e due racconti, Jaca (Milan, Italy), 1983.

Edith Sitwell, Una vita protetta, SE (Milan, Italy), 1989.

SIDELIGHTS: Margherita Guidacci was an Italian poet and translator. Born an only child in Florence, Italy, the loss of several family members when she was young would influence her future stories. Although she began writing as a young girl, she spent little serious time on this until 1945, when a sudden burst of creative energy led to her first book, La sabbia e l'angelo. This work, according to Natalia Costa-Zalessow in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, is "a result of the released psychological tension that had accumulated in her during the war years and which resulted in a song of communication with the dead."

While working as a teacher from 1945 to 1951, Guidacci found success as a translator of books by such authors as John Donne, Max Beerbohm, Emily Dickinson, and Emmanuel Mounier. These were among her favorite authors, and their works influenced her own poetry. Her style is notable for its simplicity; as Gian-Paolo Biasin wrote in his introduction to Landscape with Ruins: Selected Poetry, she "refused to write in ways that would smack of 'sophistication,' wanted to keep her words as simple and plain as possible, and wanted her poetry to be as natural as it could be."

Among Guidacci's notable works are Morte del ricco and Giorno dei santi. The former is based on the Biblical parable of the rich man and Lazarus, and its structure is based on that of European mystery plays. Its content, however, is Guidacci's original contribution; the work is a reflection on individuals' injustice and cruelty to one another. In Giorno dei santi Guidacci presents two groups of poems, one featuring the sea and shore, the other referring to November, traditionally the month of the dead in liturgical tradition. Costa-Zalessow commented that in the first section, "Human struggles come and go, cities and entire civilizations disappear without a trace, and life pulsates but must end in death." In the second section, the essayist wrote, "The poems … fuse a personal, tender emotion with the cosmic mystery of life and death."

In 1970, Guidacci published a series of partially autobiographical poems titled Neurosuite that were inspired in part by an emotional breakdown and her subsequent stay in a hospital. In the poems, according to Costa-Zalessow, she "creates a kind of grandiose, impressive X-ray of the human psyche, in its conscious and unconscious moments," and considers themes of human alienation in an increasingly technological world.

Among her works published in the 1980s are Brevi e lunghe poesie and Il buio e lo splendore. The former is a collection of thirty poems originally published between 1945 and 1975 that focus on religious topics. The poems, according to Costa-Zalessow, "illustrate her consistent return to the theme that in life's cycle there is evidence of God's mystery." In Il buio e lo splendore Guidacci presents meditations on ancient myths, emphasizing the role of the sibyls, prophetic women and keepers of mysterious secrets. The sibyls do not answer questions, but merely reveal what is already evident in nature. Costa-Zalessow commented that the poems are not only "intellectually challenging," but they also "tie not only the poet but also the reader to the timeless classical tradition, the base of Western civilization that helped Guidacci contemplate life and death with great serenity." In World Literature Today, Gian-Paolo Biasin praised the poems' "extraordinary unity of tone." In another issue of the journal, Patricia M. Gathercole wrote: "Contrast frequently highlights emotional responses, yet on the whole the verses contain a mystery and a stillness, a kind of peace."

In World Literature Today, Wallace Craft wrote that one of Guidacci's most outstanding characteristics was her "resistance to abstraction and responsiveness to the physical world … to the mystery and marvel of life itself. Such exceptional sensitivity and openness to life ultimately account for her art's validity and universal appeal; these are the qualities which will doubtless continue to hold the sympathy and admiration of her readers."



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 128: Twentieth-Century Italian Poets, Second Series, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992, pp. 180-187.

Guidacci, Margherita, Landscape with Ruins: Selected Poetry, translated by Ruth Feldman, introduction by Gian-Paolo Biasin, Wayne State University Press (Detroit, MI), 1992.


Forum Italicum, spring, 1994, Ruth Feldman, "Remembering Margherita Guidacci," pp. 90-96.

World Literature Today, spring, 1977, Wallace Craft, review of Taccuino slavo, p. 51; winter, 1990, Gian-Paolo Biasin, review of Il buio e lo splendore, p. 89; spring, 1990, Patricia M. Gathercole, review of A Book of Sibyls, p. 295; autumn, 1993, John P. Welle, review of Landscape with Ruins, pp. 801-802.

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Guidacci, Margherita 1921–1992

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