Biancamaria Frabotta

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Biancamaria Frabotta
Frabotta in 2012
Frabotta in 2012
BornBianca Maria Frabotta
(1946-06-11)11 June 1946
Rome, Italy
Died2 May 2022(2022-05-02) (aged 75)
Rome, Italy
OccupationPoet, academic, novelist, playwright
EducationUniversity of Rome La Sapienza, Rome
Literary movementAnti-fascism, feminism
Notable worksIl rumore bianco
La viandanza
La pianta del pane
Da mani mortali
Notable awardsPremio Dessì Prize
2003 La pianta del pane

Biancamaria Frabotta (11 June 1946 – 2 May 2022) was an Italian writer. She promoted the study of women writers in Italy[1] and her early poetry focused on feminist issues.[2] The main themes of her later works are melancholy, the dichotomy between Nature and History and between Action and Contemplation, the relationship between the body and the self, and conjugal love. Besides essays on feminism and academic works on poets such as Giorgio Caproni, Franco Fortini, and Amelia Rosselli, she wrote plays, radio-dramas, a television show on Petrarch, and a novel.[3] Until her retirement in 2016, she taught Modern Italian Literature at the University of Rome La Sapienza, where she previously received her Laurea degree.

Life and career

Early life

Frabotta was born in Rome, in the same month of the proclamation of the republic in Italy.[4] As a child, she grew up in the capital, with frequent sojourns in the port-city of Civitavecchia which will later appear in her poetry.[5] After graduating at the Liceo Classico, she started studying Literature at the University of Rome La Sapienza. Her Laurea dissertation is dedicated to the writings of Carlo Cattaneo and won the Carlo Cattaneo prize of the Fondazione Ticino Nostro in Switzerland. In Rome, Frabotta also studied modern poetry (especially Eugenio Montale's work) with Walter Binni.[6]

As a university student, she took part in the protests of the 1968, emerging as a prominent figure in the students' movement and showing a specific engagement (both as a writer and as an activist) for women's issues and gender theory.[7] During the late Sixties and the Seventies, she developed strong personal and intellectual connections with artists and writers based in Rome such as Alberto Moravia, Dacia Maraini,[8] Amelia Rosselli[9], and Dario Bellezza.

Academic and literary career

A contributor and cultural journalist for many Italian newspapers and journals over the years (Poesia, Alfabeta, Il Manifesto, Orsa minore), Frabotta was also an academic critic and a professor at the University of Rome La Sapienza, where she mainly taught contemporary Italian poetry.[10]

Her main poetic publications are usually preceded by thematic plaquettes that, combined and made interacting with each other, eventually form the body of her books.[11] After publishing her first major book, Il Rumore Bianco, with Feltrinelli in 1982, she started an editorial collaboration with Mondadori, publishing three books (La Viandanza, La Pianta del Pane, and Da Mani Mortali) in the prestigious collection Lo Specchio, which had previously published protagonists of the Italian Modernism such as Eugenio Montale, Giuseppe Ungaretti, and Umberto Saba. Frabotta received numerous literary prizes, including the Premio Tropea (1989),[12] Premio Montale (1995),[13] Premio Dessì (2003),[14] , and Premio L'Olio della Poesia (2015). [15]

Critics such as Stefano Giovanardi argue that Frabotta's poetic language has evolved from an initial experimentalism to a more cohesive, recognizable voice developed towards the end of the millennium. Such a transition, in opposition with the mainstream tendencies of European postmodernism, led her poetry to a style that is, at the same time, harmonically classical and yet marked by sudden stridencies, rhythmic gaps, and unexpected turns of the imagery.[16] However, Frabotta's work as a writer, and particularly as a poet, remains interdigitated with her political and academic experiences. According to Keala Jewell: "Frabotta weaves into her female poetic web the fragments of a tradition in which, as a literary scholar, she is steeped yet which she also refuses."[17]


Frabotta died on 2 May 2022, at the age of 75.[18]

Selected works


  • Affeminata (Geiger: Turin, 1976)[19]
  • Il Rumore Bianco (Feltrinelli: Milan, 1982)[19]
  • Appunti di volo (La Cometa: Rome, 1985)[19]
  • Controcanto al Chiuso (Rossi&Spera: Rome, 1991)[19]
  • La viandanza (Mondadori: Milan, 1995)[19]
  • Terra Contigua (Empirìa: Rome, 1999)[19]
  • La Pianta del Pane (Mondadori: Milan, 2003)[19]
  • Gli Eterni Lavori (San Marco dei Giustiniani: Genova, 2005)[19]
  • I Nuovi Climi (Stampa: Brunello, 2007)[19]
  • Da Mani Mortali (Mondadori: Milan, 2012)[19]
  • Per il Giusto Verso (Manni: Bari, 2015)[19]
  • Tutte le poesie (1971–2017) (Mondadori: Milan, 2018), includes the unpublished collection La materia prima[19]


  • Tensioni (Eidos: Milan-Venice, 1989)[19]
  • Controcanto al Chiuso (La Cometa: Rome, 1994)[19]
  • Trittico dell'Obbedienza (Sellerio: Palermo, 1996)[19]


  • Velocità di Fuga (Reverdito: Trento, 1989), novel.[19]
  • Quartetto per Masse e Voce Sola (Donzelli: Rome, 2009), non-fiction.[19]


  • Carlo Cattaneo (Fondazione Ticino Nostro: Lugano, 1969)[19]
  • La Letteratura al Femminile (De Donato: Bari, 1980)[19]
  • Giorgio Caproni, il Poeta del Disincanto (Officina: Rome, 1993)[19]
  • L'Estrema Volontà (Giulio Perrone Editore: Rome, 2010)[19]


  1. ^ Catherine O'Brien, "Biancamaria Frabotta" in The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature, eds. Peter Hainsworth and David Robey (Oxford: OUP, 2002):
  2. ^ Sheila Ralph, Italian Literature – The 20th Century, in Encyclopædia Britannica:
  3. ^ Encyclopedia of Italian Literary Studies (Routledge: New York, 2007) pp. 770–772
  4. ^ Giovanna De Luca, "Biancamaria Frabotta", in Encyclopedia of Italian Literary Studies, ed. Gaetana Marrone Puglia (Routledge: New York, 2007), 772.
  5. ^ In particular in B. Frabotta, La viandanza, Mondadori: Milan 1995
  6. ^ "Biography in the page "lazionauta" – News of an event held in Terracina". Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  7. ^ See her book B. Frabotta, Femminismo e lotta di classe, Savelli: Rome, 1973. See also the page of the Venice Municipality on Feminist Italian movements, which references Frabotta's work.
  8. ^ Who was part of the feminist movement as well, and recently mentioned Frabotta as one of the best Italian poets in her personal website
  9. ^ For Rosselli, in 1996, she wrote an eulogy that was read during the poet's funeral in Rome, Elogio del fuoco (now in B. Frabotta, Quartetto per masse e voce sola, pp. 65–68
  10. ^ See her page on the University website. See also her biography in Giovanna De Luca, "Biancamaria Frabotta", in Encyclopedia of Italian Literary Studies, ed. Gaetana Marrone Puglia (Routledge: New York, 2007), 770–772.
  11. ^ As it is evident from her bibliography, see Marco Corsi, Biancamaria Frabotta: i nodi violati del verso (Florence: Clueb, 2010). The progression of themes and questions throughout the different plaquettes is described as a "novel" in Italian Women Poets, ed. by Catherine O'Brien (Irish Academic Press: Dublin, 1996), 235.
  12. ^ "Leggi e ascolta i testi dell'autore". Casa Della Poesia. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  13. ^ "Premio montale: a biancamaria frabotta con 76 voti" from the Archive of the Italian Association of Journalists
  14. ^ "Site of the prize, palmares". Archived from the original on 1 August 2018. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  15. ^ ," – Il portale del Salento – l'Olio della Poesia".
  16. ^ See S. Giovanardi, "Biancamaria Frabotta", in Poeti Italiani del Secondo Novecento, eds. M. Cucchi – S. Giovanardi, Mondadori: Milan 2004, pp. 907–908.
  17. ^ K. Jewell, Frabotta's Elegies. Theory and Practice, MLN 116.1 (2001) 177–192
  18. ^ "Morta la poetessa Biancamaria Frabotta: "Un inferno nucleare scuote la stella"". La Repubblica. 2 May 2022.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "WorldCat author listing".

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