Willful Adolescents in La Marchesa Colombi’s Un matrimonio in provincia and Sibilla Aleramo’s Una donna

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

Summer 2018


Among La Marchesa Colombi’s admirable accomplishments in Un matrimonio in provincia is her ability to evoke a convincing experience of female adolescence when the significance of this developmental stage was not yet completely understood. In fact, Colombi offers the seeds of what Sibilla Aleramo would call for some twenty years later in her landmark Una donna – modern women’s stories in their own voices rather than imitations of men’s texts. This article studies the female protagonists in Un matrimonio in provincia and Una donna in the context of their adolescent development. It posits that Denza is believable in part because of her youthful willfulness. In this way, Colombi not only anticipates Aleramo’s plea for more authentic female writing but also foresees a character like Aleramo’s protagonist whose early resolve resurfaces in adulthood allowing her to live with integrity. Through their resilient characters, these authors strive for new definitions of womanhood.