Alice Ceresa in the SLA

Alice Ceresa (1923–2001) first came to prominence as an experimental feminist author in 1960s and 1970s Italy. A highly self-critical writer, she published only a few literary works, all of which deal with women’s status in society. 

Alice Ceresa
Alice Ceresa, ca. 1975
© Barbara Fittipaldi

Alice Ceresa spent her childhood and youth in Basel and then in Bellinzona. She resolved to become a writer at a young age, and after attending commercial school in Bellinzona she gained her first experience as a culture journalist working on a regional newspaper. 

Despite straitened financial circumstances, the young woman’s rebellious spirit and interest in culture soon led her to Switzerland’s bigger cities. Her first story, «Gli altri», was published in the magazine «Svizzera italiana» in 1943 and earned her an award. Immediately after the war ended, Alice Ceresa travelled to Italy and France as a foreign correspondent for various newspapers. In 1950 she settled in Rome and worked, inter alia, as a translator, with a publishing house and as an editor.

Alice Ceresa made a name for herself in literary Italy with her experimental début novel «La figlia prodiga» (1967), which was published as the first volume of the «La ricerca letteraria» series by Einaudi. From then on, the issue of women in society became the sole concern of her literary output. Her work and its reception are shaped by a stylistic and formal quest for forms of expression that were both appropriate and innovative, and by her contacts with the Italian avant-garde.

Ceresa published a number of stories, but it was not until 1990 that her second and final novel «Bambine» (1997) came out, again from Einaudi. It was received with interest in Switzerland, France and Germany too, thanks to translations into German and French. 

Her literary estate contains a number of unpublished projects. The ironic «Piccolo dizionario dell’ineguaglianza femminile» (Little Dictionary of Women’s Inequality), edited by Tatiana Crivelli, was published in 2007 and 2020.

Last modification 15.07.2021

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