Artemisia

Artemisia

9781913109004
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First published in 1953, Artemisia is a classic of 20th century Italian literature. From its first publication in 1953, Artemisia, a novel about Artemisia Gentileschi, an iconic 17th century painter, by Anna Banti, a brilliant Italian art historian, established itself as a feminist masterpiece. Like Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Blue Flower and Marguerite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian, Artemisia is a book about the process of artistic creation. Much in Gentileschi’s life marked her out as a victim – rape at the age of 18, a forced marriage to a man she did not love and, a powerful, patriarchal father, Orazio Gentileschi, who failed to value her artistic genius. But Gentileschi did not accept the status of victim, in the years between 1610 and 1650; she produced over 50 paintings that have established her as one of the great painters of all time. She gave up everything – “all tenderness, all claim to feminine virtues” to dedicate herself solely to painting. Sacrifices that Anna Banti, herself an artist, fully understands and captures in this amazing novel. “What makes Artemisia a great book – and unique in Banti’s work – is this double destiny, of a book lost and re-created. A book that by being posthumous, rewritten, resurrected, gained incalculably in emotional reach and moral authority. A metaphor for literature, perhaps. And a metaphor for reading, militant reading – which, at its worthiest, is rereading – too.” Susan Sontag