Motherhood, sexuality and beauty in Gabriele D'Annunzio's trilogy i romanzi della Rosa

Michela Barisonzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This article focuses on the themes of motherhood, beauty and desire in Gabriele D'Annunzio's trilogy, I romanzi della Rosa, showing how these novels reflect upon 19th-century female sexuality and its portrayal through female beauty. These texts reveal the exhaustion of the Italian bourgeois stereotype of the fin-de-siècle woman as a devoted mother and a loyal wife, deprived of her sexual component. I examine how D'Annunzio's trilogy explores the idea of female desire through common female stereotypes, especially the progressive negation of the figure of the devoted mother. In Il piacere, female desire surfaces through the theme of adultery and is critiqued through the changes in the physical portrayal of the female protagonist and in her relationship with her daughter. In L'innocente, female sexuality is depicted instead through the medicalization of the body of the adulterous mother, physically distorted by her pregnancy. Finally, Il trionfo della morte shows female sexuality through the death of the bourgeois mother, as the female protagonist is now physically sterile and her beauty rests in her imperfect and lifeless body.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-524
Number of pages20
JournalForum Italicum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • adultery
  • desire
  • hysteria
  • sexuality
  • sterility

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