15. (Self)Representations of Motherhood in Ada Negri’s Stella mattutina

(Self)Representations of Motherhood in Ada Negri’s Stella mattutina

by Ioana Raluca Larco

This article focuses on the figure of the mother as represented in Ada Negri’s autobiographical novel Stella mattutina (1921); such an image transgresses the patriarchal model of the passive and self-sacrificial woman-mother, so predominant in the 1800’s and the first half of the following century. Through feminist lenses (i.e., Jessica Benjamin, Luisa Muraro), I discuss how Negri restores here the mother’s subjectivity by depicting her also as an individual, and recovers the mother-daughter bond. The latter unfolds within a female genealogy as the gender and class identities of the autobiographical protagonist, Dinin, take shape in relation to the identities of her grandmother Peppina and, above all, her mother Vittoria. Ultimately, I argue that mother and matrilineage serve as narrative tools for the daughter’s subjectivity as the representation, from an autobiographical perspective, of her mother as subject gives Negri the opportunity to reflect on her own condition as woman and mother.