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For a book that sent shock waves through the European literary establishment and, since its original publication in 1906 has gone through seven editions along with highly acclaimed translations into all the principal languages of Europe, "A Woman" (Una Donna) by Sibilla Aleramo (1876-1960) has remained curiously obscure in America. Aleramo's lightly fictionalized memoir presented a kaleidoscopic series of Italian images - the frenetic industrialism of the North, the miserable squalor of the country's backward areas to the South, fin de siecle Italian politics and literary life - all set in the framework of a drama admiringly characterized by Luigi Pirandellow as "grim and powerful." For some other Italians, "A Woman" touched a raw nerve, and many critics reacted to Aleramo with extreme hostility. However, whether one liked Aleramo's novel or not, the book was an iceberg in the mainstream of Italian literary life, impossible to get around without careful inspection. - From the introduction.