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Freedom starts as early as childhood

Scandinavian children’s (female) writers’ impact on Italian children’s literature before and after the Second World War.
 

Davide Finco, University of Genoa
 

My paper focuses on a relevant, even though not so much investigated phenomenon in the Italian culture of the 20th century, when children’s literature was gradually dignified with the importance it had always deserved, and a complex, arduous and creative process of renewal developed thanks to the contribution of untraditional writers, editors and pedagogues.

In my title, I have signalled that the source of inspiration came from Scandinavian ‘female’ writers, but I do not intend to necessarily make a gender issue out of it, just to observe a factual aspect. On the other hand, we could notice that even the Italian authors who were most sensible to the suggestions coming from the North were actually women, whereas Italian children’s literature began with important male figures, as we are going to see.

Significant and innovative children’s books as something peculiar of Scandinavia is still nowadays a trait of the Italian image of the North: Scandinavian countries are commonly associated with a flourishing literature for young and very young people, in a tradition which non-specialized readers let begin with Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking. I must say that this is far more than a common place, even thanks to Scandinavian policy towards culture and children’s literature in particular, whose authors are supported and promoted with a much more constant and effective engagement than elsewhere. Yet, if we want to consider this phenomenon properly, we should start from the fundamental truth that children’s literature as such was long seen in the world as a minor kind of cultural product because of its readers’ immaturity and its ingrained pedagogical task according to the mainstream view.

From this perspective, Scandinavia and Italy share a common history and course, in which children’s literature begins quite late if compared with the rest and displays a set of paradoxes, for instance that only adults can write for children and, therefore, give them a literary voice1 or that the least considered kind of literature is also the most read, as children and teenagers are the best and most constant readers, at least in Italy (this is certainly due to their school homeworks and their teachers’ engagements, but their acquaintance with books happens to develop beyond this basic condition).

Besides, if works explicitly written for children had a very late beginning (conventionally the 17th century, more properly the 18th),2 this ‘minor’ literature is marked by the same cultural tendencies as literature for adult people: for instance, Enlightening, Romantic or Realism – in turn – affected style, topics and world view of children’s books in a similar way as they did in ‘major’ literature.

In addition to, children’s literature was long made of books not intended for children that met with a great success among the youngest readers, who were often offered a specific version of the original text: in Europe, this was the case of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1718) and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726), as well as Fenimore Cooper’s and Walter Scott’s novels in the 19th century. We could add, by the way, that many folktales that are nowadays considered children’s stories were originally told for illiterates, both adults and children.

Scandinavian (female) authors who renewed the survey of Italian literature did not actually represent a tradition in itself, so as to express a ‘Northern’ view of life: on the contrary, they were revolutionary enough to question their own tradition, even though, as we will see, the existence of a Northern view of childhood – suggested by scholars – might have played a role of some significance.

Moreover, their literary revolution had with no doubt a pedagogical counterpart, which allows us to draw a further parallelism between Scandinavia and Italy: I am referring in particular to Ellen Key (especially her studies Barnets århundrade, 1900, The Century of the Child) and Maria Montessori (and the teaching method she developed in her Casa dei bambini, Children’s House, in Rome since 1907). The two feminists knew each other and met in international contexts to fight for women’s rights: their efforts show how women shared a similar condition of minority as children, and this fact could partly explain my initial remark on the renewal of children’s literature as a possible gender phenomenon.

In spite of the above mentioned similarities, Scandinavian and Italian children’s literature are marked by a different history: if, for instance, Swedish children’s literature conventionally began in 1591,3 as Sweden has existed since the Middle Age, the Italian one starts only in the late 19th century, as Italy was unified in 1861. This has many consequences, but the most relevant is that the first important children’s books in Italy appeared in a period when it was needed to create a community, to “make Italians”, as it was said. In general, they were therefore conservative works, whose aim was to conform people to the dominant social values (homeland, family, mutual solidarity).4

The topic years of the early Italian children’s literature were the 1880s, where we actually find three milestones: the first and most important contribution was Edmondo De Amicis’ Cuore (1886, Heart), the diary of a school year in Turin, which promotes interclass movement, national solidarity, family in quite a lay view of civil life. This work influenced most children’s literature in the following decades. The next most influent book was Carlo Lorenzini (Collodi)’s Le avventure di Pinocchio (1881-83 in a children’s magazine, 1889 in volume, The Adventures of Pinocchio), which soon represented a counterpart, an anti-model. According to its popularity until now, it could be defined the Italian Pippi Longstocking. The protagonist’s course may remind the Swedish reader of Selma Lagerlöf’s Nils Holgerssons underbara resa genom Sverige (1906-07, The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, translated into Italian in 1914). Pinocchio may be set in a pedagogical background, too, as it tells the story of everyone’s growth and emancipation in the metaphor of a wooden puppet which eventually turns into a living child; nonetheless, the author builds up a very imaginative world and makes a wise use of provocative and fantastic features, so that the adventurous and least moral parts in the book remain the most popular. Among the most relevant examples, a third – and alternative – kind of literature was Emilio Salgari’s exotic novels, starting from 1883-84 with La tigre della Malesia (The Tiger of Malaysia). The author was long blamed for commercial and entertaining literature, but was soon very successful, even though not an influencing model in the Italian panorama.

Italian children’s life condition was hard: we can observe a social backwardness until the early 20th century, with poverty, hunger, child labour and very little chances to have children’s rights acknowledged. On the other hand, the bourgeois culture developed a pedagogical, paternalistic and moralistic view of childhood, marked by rules and prohibitions, and based on the ideology of children’s inborn innocence and dependence.5 From these premises, we can maybe understand the essential difference between Northern and Southern children’s literature, at least as it was pointed out by some scholars and writers. I will consider here a couple of noteworthy statements, namely those by Paul Hazard in 1932 and Donatella Ziliotto in 1995: they hint at the same question in a similar perspective at over sixty years’ distance, though proposing a different explanation, the first one more ‘romantic’, the second rather social and economical:

But the superiority of the North is mainly due, among the Latins, to the lack of a certain understanding of childhood as a ‘lucky island’ whose happiness must be protected [...]. The Latins begin to stop, breathe and live once they reach the adult age; before that, they only undergo a crisis of development, which children themselves look forward to overcoming [...] In a few words, for the Latins, children are only future men; Nordics have better understood this truth, that men are only old children. (P. Hazard, 1932)6

[There were] two fundamental and divergent tendencies in Northern and Latin children’s literature. The latter, poorer and more in need of working arms, tended to educate children so that they became adult as soon as possible or could help adults in their work.

Pinocchio, together with a few other examples of literary children’s rebellion, fought in vain and for a long time against his ‘useful’ growth for the society, but eventually he had to surrender.

In the wealthier North there was the opposite trend, i. e. to extend children’s condition as long as possible, surrounding them with Teddy Bears, nursery rhymes and somewhat grim lullabies, provided that they remained as long as possible in that enchanted world, which was suddenly followed by the cold and pitiless college. (D. Ziliotto, 1995)7

The Italian fascist regime (1922-1943) was deeply engaged to mould people’s mind and world view, starting from childhood, but we cannot help noticing that under many aspects, luckily, it achieved insufficient results according to its purposes. A very important school reform in 1923 was inspired to modern and liberal ideals, which were, however, definitely dismantled by 1934 new school programmes.8

Nonetheless, still in 1930s the authors’, editors’ and illustrators’ efforts to oppose the dictatorial trends which had started in 1926 led to the birth of meaningful projects, such as the series “La biblioteca dei miei ragazzi” (1931-1955, My children’s library) by Salani in Florence and “La scala d’oro” (1932-1936, The golden stair) by Utet in Turin, which for a time even managed to spread foreign works in Italy and showed a modern sensibility in taking account of the readers’ different needs according to their ages.9

The young readers’ daily life was, however, marked by censorship and conformism, so that it is not surprising how welcome any different perspective could be. Welcome like the Danish Karin Michaëlis (1872-1950), who invented the character of Bibi and represented for some people, like Donatella Ziliotto (b. 1932), the first meaningful experience of Scandinavian culture: “From Denmark, the first signs of autonomy came for us, girls during the Second World War, with Bibi by Karin Michaëlis, who let us discover freedom and democracy while escaping the network of censorship. But Karin, long before she freed girls, had unmasked bourgeois women’s bad faith and ambiguity.”10

As a matter of fact, in the early 20th century, Karin Michaëlis wrote a series of novels on women’s hard life but also on their unconfessed cynical and masochistic impulses. Her most famous work is Den farlige Alder (1910, The Dangerous Age), on a married woman in her forties who decides to leave alone in an island, and in her diary, as well as in her letters, expresses frank and provocative considerations; but, on the whole, Michaëlis focused on minor groups’ rights and the injustice perpetrated to them. She is also remembered for hosting a number of refugees fleeing from Germany (among them, Brecht, Kokoschka, Einstein) and for a series of conferences held in Europe and in the USA.

Bibi’s novels are six, published in Denmark between 1929 and 1939, and incredibly translated in Italian from 1931 to 1940. The adventures told about this uncommon eleven years’ old girl, who is free to travel on her own around Denmark and describes all her adventures in lively letters to her father, might be seen as the beginning of an emancipated new condition, a daring alternative which provided the Italian readers with quite a new world view: “In those books there was love for adventure, tenderness for animals, curiosity and fondness for all human beings, whatever class they belonged to, interest in objects, places, landscapes, together with an extraordinary feeling of female friendships and solidarity.”11

Ziliotto loved the fact that Bibi was often a reporter of her experiences, so that the young readers could face such an open-minded fellow, always ready to work it out, through the eyes and the language of a child like them. And, once grown up, she wanted to repeat Bibi’s journeys on her bicycle with a friend, getting more and more acquainted with Nordic atmospheres and landscapes, something which would prove to be very useful for her later profession. As Michaëlis wrote: “You can measure freedom by kilometers. This starts by moving and getting out of a geographical and social space. Later on, you can pass from freedom of movement to freedom itself.”12 This observation belongs – in Ziliotto’s eyes – to the Nordic special wisdom, an image which she had begun to make up many years before: “Once I asked my father: ‘Dad, why can Bibi travel around and I can’t?’. He gave me this answer: ‘Because people are good up there’.”13

Bibi displays many positive features, starting from an overall interest for human beings and from her surprising skills: for instance, she can draw and sells her drawings to survive when she is far away, but she can also do different kinds of acrobatic performances, which attract public. In Michaëlis’ world view there is, however, a possibly darker side connected to this condition: Bibi’s last novel was actually not completed, at a certain point Michaëlis left her character (by the way, even this work was translated and the Italian translator made Bibi get married!). One could infer – and so did Ziliotto14 – that for Michaëlis the passage to the adult age always implies a kind of suppression, and freedom can come true, if ever, only in childhood. However legitimate or not, this interpretation somehow sets the Danish author closer to Astrid Lindgren (let us think to the melancholic ending of Pippi’s adventures), the writer who would be crucial for Ziliotto’s professional life.15

Pippi Longstocking was originally made of three novels, which were published in 1945, 1946 and 1948 respectively, and later collected in volume (apart from some chapters) in 1952, in the work that would be the basis for the numerous translations worldwide. The Italian one was edited by Ziliotto with Annuska Palme Larussa in 1958 and appeared as the first title of the series “Il Martin Pescatore” (“The Kingfisher”) by Vallecchi: this choice was meant to highlight the innovative nature of this project.

Ziliotto knew Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002) personally and only later became aware of the revolution carried on by the intellectual group she started to attend in that period: “I met Astrid Lindgren by the half of 1950s, and my lack of experience led me to a wrong opinion, which in turn was very beneficial. I came into a group of painters, writers, Bergman’s apprentices, who were irreverent, unconventional, imaginative, intolerant of any rule and gave me therefore a wrong image of Scandinavian society.”16

This very different environment from what she experienced in Italy convinced her that the translation of Lindgren’s works would bring that novelty Italian children’s books really needed. Starting from this perspective, we can here remember, furthermore, the name of Gianni Rodari (1920-1980) as the major exception to a general conformism. Rodari is nowadays likely the most famous children’s writer in Italy and a milestone in school readings; his contribution to the renewal of Italian children’s literature and, partly, his constant engagement in social questions can be set in parallel with the relevant activity by Lennart Hellsing (1919-2015) in the Swedish context.17 However, if in 1950s Michaëlis was nearly forgotten, also due to the impact of the Second World War, Lindgren could boast an international renown, which helped Italian authors of the ‘new’ children’s literature come in contact with the European most innovatory phenomena (the first novel on Bibi was retranslated only in 1995 – this time from Danish and not from German – and appeared in the series “Gl’istrici” (“The crested porcupines”) by Salani, under the direction of Ziliotto).

The scholar Emy Beseghi has summarized on Pippi Longstocking’s influence on Italian readers and writers: “This extraordinary child initiates a parade of ironical, mocking, unconventional characters, which take the distance from the abused narrative scheme of difficult children who are re-educated and transformed into model girls.”18

We can point out the great change of the late 20th century children’s literature in the enhanced space given to children, so as to partly overcome one of the main paradoxes mentioned in the beginning, i.e. that children’s books are always necessarily written by adults. Together with Ziliotto, one of the writers who have best learned from this and have been most sensitive to the adults’ psychological abuses is Bianca Pitzorno (b. 1942), whose heroines have become a milestone in the new children’s literature in the last thirty years. I will not go here into her numerous works, which blend an open-minded, provocative attitude, a great imagination and a deep interest for history and refined literature. But I would like to consider some of her statements on Nordic writers, starting again from Karin Michaëlis: “I think I read Bibi’s series […] at least a hundred times. Bibi was a little girl just like I would have liked to be. Free, adventurous, sincere. She could draw […], climb the smoothest walls with the only help of her nails, she cycled, with no adult with her, around all Denmark and she had a group of very faithful friends. […] She was completely different from those tearful character ‘for female adolescent’. She was clever, witty, democratic, and when she saw some injustice she got angry just like me.”19

In the series “Il Martin Pescatore”, Pitzorno could later read both Tove Jansson’s works20 and Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi, starting a cultural journey which would let her discover that “Swedish people were my spiritual companions much more than Mediterraneans.”21 A very suitable analysis is once again offered in these insights by Emy Beseghi: “With Astrid Lindgren a new era begins, when writers like Bianca Pitzorno, Donatella Ziliotto, Beatrice Solinas Donghi [1923-2015] engage themselves in telling stories about lively and ironical little girls, whose plot is supported by any source of fantastic. What do they have in common? They possess a refined humor, through which they imagine possible scenarios beyond our present; with self-confidence they move in the most adventurous settings, including daily life, and they never forget that fairy tale culture which has always offered little girls a different ability in getting acquainted, modifying and experiencing the world.”22

I would like to conclude this excursus by looking at what Italian manuals on children’s literature told about Scandinavia in that pioneering period: to this purpose, I will just mention two contributions, which were published almost in the same year. In Giuseppe Fanciulli’s Scrittori e libri per l’infanzia (1960, Children’s writers and books) we find the following evaluation: “The publishing of children’s books in Northern Europe countries is remarkable and denotes the extreme sensibility of those peoples to all aspects of the spiritual formation of youth. Children’s literature holds therefore a place of honour. It would be enough to have a look at the Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish and Danish daily newspapers and the space they spend on books for children.”23 The author highlights with an amount of pleased surprise the dialectic attitude which is developed in this alleged ‘minor genre’ and points out how a fruitful cooperation between teachers, parents and librarians is encouraged in those countries, through a sort of inter-generational pact in which books are always a shared experience rather than an imposed task. This factual presentation coexisted in those years with a prevalent idealized image of Scandinavian privileged link with mythical aspects and direct relationship with nature. In Olga Visentini’s Primo vere. Storia della Letteratura Giovanile (1961, History of Youth Literature) we can read, for instance: “Islands, straits, rocks, unexpected green backgrounds and flowered fields, fairy-tale palaces and blue or pearly mists: there is enough to explain a crowd of whims and fairies, and further north tomtes, hulders, female elves, mysterious relatives of magicians and mermaids who populate the Nordic legends […]. These elements offer hints for folk songs, lullabies, nursery rhymes for children, who at home, during the picturesque winters, in the very green gardens in good seasons, are brought up in a serene manner, which does not rule out austerity, but not even joy.”24 Here the author devotes most of the Scandinavian paragraph to Karin Michaëlis, does not even mention Astrid Lindgren (whose Pippi Longstocking had been translated three years before), while she deals with H. C. Andersen and Selma Lagerlöf. Bibi’s adventures are read as a pretext to describe Denmark, “in a not very original plot, neither is the protagonist’s attitude”, but with the great quality of teaching love for animals and respect for humble people, offering, moreover, many very lively figures. As we see, it is the most typical childish behaviour rather than the protagonist’s emancipation which pleases Visentini, who dares assume that the main reason of its extraordinary success lies in the nostalgic sense of infinity, which is enhanced by Bibi’s memory of her dead mother.25

These few references were meant to give an idea of how Scandinavia and Scandinavian children’s writers were received by 20th century Italian mediators and scholars, a perspective that should necessarily integrate writers’ and translators’ point of view. We might conclude that a revolutionary children’s literature from Scandinavia, which somehow perceived and elaborated a set of pedagogical principles (I have not gone through, for instance, the pedagogical premises that lead to Pippi Longstocking),26 represented a model for several Italian children’s writers at a very early age. In this net of relationships, we notice above all how women, as well as children, were a minority which – in the case of women – fought for a more suitable space of freedom: if womanliness was not to be thought as a gender issue in this survey, it is also true that this aspect certainly enhanced the impact of Scandinavian children’s literature in Italy. The core of this literary (and linguistic), editorial and pedagogical revolution was that of trying to shape a world (and books) at children’s measure, by pursuing topics, style and characters which could more realistically represent children’s world view, feelings, fears and dreams. Scandinavian writers (and, in some cases, the direct experience of Scandinavian countries) played a noteworthy role in the renewal of Italian children’s literature from from 1950s onwards.

References

Flavia Bacchetti - Enzo Catarsi (eds.), I “Tusitala”. Scrittori italiani contemporanei di letteratura giovanile, Tirrenia-Pisa: Edizioni del Cerro, 2006

Emy Beseghi, “Polissena nel labirinto di Bianca”, in Emy Beseghi (ed.), Nel giardino di Gaia, Milano: Mondadori, 1994, pp. 67-74

Pino Boero - Carmine De Luca, La letteratura per l’infanzia, Roma-Bari: Laterza, [1995] 2009

Franco Cambi, Collodi, De Amicis, Rodari. Tre immagini d’infanzia, Bari: Edizioni Dedalo, 1985

Giuseppe Fanciulli, Scrittori e libri per l’infanzia, Torino-Genova: SEI, [1951] 1960 (new revised edition by Mario Pucci)

Davide Finco, “Lennart Hellsing e Gianni Rodari: letterature per l’infanzia tra Svezia e Italia nel secondo Novecento” in Chiara Barbagianni (ed.), Quaderni di Palazzo Serra 25, Genova: Dipartimento di Lingue e Culture moderne, 2014, pp. 139-159

Grazia Gotti - Silvana Sola - Marcella Terrusi (eds.), Astrid. La bussola segna il Nord, Bologna, Giannino Stoppani 2007

Paul Hazard, Uomini, ragazzi e libri. Letteratura infantile (Les livres, les enfants, les hommes, 1932), Roma: Armando, 1971

Tove Jansson, Racconti dalla valle dei Mumin (Det osynliga barnet, 1962), trans. by Donatella Ziliotto e Annuska Palme Sanavio, Milano: Salani, 2002

Laura Kreyder, L’enfance des saints et des autres. Essai sur la comtesse de Ségur, Fasano (Bari)-Paris, Schena-Nizet 1987

Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Calzelunghe (Boken om Pippi Långstrump, 1952), trans. by Annuska Palme Larussa e Donatella Ziliotto, Milano: Salani, 2009

Ulla Lundqvist, Århundradets barn. Fenomenet Pippi Långstrump och dess förutsättningar, Stockholm: Rabén & Sjögren, 1979

Karin Michaëlis, Bibi. Una bambina del Nord (Bibi. En lille Piges Historie, 1929), trans. by Eva Kampmann, Milano: Salani [1995] 2005

Marina Morpurgo, “Bibi e il suo grande cuore”, in Diario 2006: 27, pp. 26-34

Bianca Pitzorno, Storia delle mie storie. Miti, forme, idee della letterature per ragazzi, Milano: Pratiche editrice, [1995] 2002

Eva Wahlström, Fria flickor före Pippi. Ester Blenda Nordström och Karin Michaëlis: Astrid Lindgrens föregångare, Göteborg-Stockholm: Makadam, 2011

Donatella Ziliotto, Introduzione, in Roald Dahl, Matilde (Matilda, 1988), Milano: Salani, 1995

D. Ziliotto, “Generazione Bibi, generazione Pippi”, in Francesca Lazzarato - D. Ziliotto (eds.), Bimbe, donne e bambole. Protagoniste bambine nei libri per l’infanzia, Roma: Artemide, 1987, pp. 23-33

D. Ziliotto, “Influenze della letteratura nordica. Dahl, Michaelis, Lindgren, Jansson”, in LG Argomenti, 2004:1, pp. 24-26

D. Ziliotto, Introduzione, in Karin Michaëlis, L’età pericolosa (Den farlige Alder, 1910), Firenze-Milano: Giunti editore [1989] 2005, pp. 5-10


  1. Laura Kreyder summarizes this situation in an effective manner: “Il faut être sorti de l’enfance pour pouvoir la comprendre et s’en approcher. Seuls les adultes peuvent charmer les enfants de leurs contes et de leurs histoires. Dire qu’il faut être resté enfant pour communiquer avec eux, est erroné. D’ailleurs, quand on est petit, on ne se vois pas en tant que tel, et l’on n’a qu’une hâte, celle de grandir. L’enfance est l’âge de l’introspection impossible où l’on ne parle pas de soi, et, de toutes les conditions, c’est la seule dont les témoignages solent toujours apocryphes. L’enfance n’a qu’une vérité littéraire posthume, que seul un adulte qui en a admis la perte peut réinventer. Pour ce faire, il a dû se détacher de la nostalgie d’un âge d’or, ou de la rêverie utopique sur l’innocence, reconnaître toute la misère enfantine, mais aussi sa nécessité, sa finitude, sa contingence.”, L. Kreyder, L’enfance des saints et des autres. Essai sur la comtesse de Ségur, Fasano (Bari)-Paris: Schena-Nizet, 1987, p. 120.

  2. We can consider Giambattista Basile’s Pentamerone (1632-1636) and Charles Perrault Les contes de ma mère l’Oye (1697) as the first books explicitly thought for children, even though only the second one has been actually read and enjoyed by many of them. See Bianca Pitzorno, Storia delle mie storie. Miti, forme, idee della letterature per ragazzi, Milano: Pratiche editrice, [1995] 2002, pp. 25-28. Yet, a proper literature for youngest readers, both in terms of books and periodicals, started only in the following century.

  3. I am referring here to Laurentius Johannis Laelius’ Een sköön och härligh jungfrw spegel (“A beautiful and magnificent maiden’s mirror”), which was an adaptation of the German Conrad Porta’s Jungfrawen Spiegel (1580), a collection of religiously moral prescriptions for aristocratic children. Laelius devoted this work to Katharina, daughter of the future King Charles IX of Sweden (1599-1611).

  4. See Pino Boero - Carmine De Luca, La letteratura per l’infanzia, Roma-Bari: Laterza, [1995] 2009, p. 3; and Flavia Bacchetti - Enzo Catarsi (eds.), I “Tusitala”. Scrittori italiani contemporanei di letteratura giovanile, Tirrenia-Pisa: Edizioni del Cerro, 2006, p. 13.

  5. See Franco Cambi, Collodi, De Amicis, Rodari. Tre immagini d’infanzia, Bari: Edizioni Dedalo, 1985, p. 12.

  6. Paul Hazard, Uomini, ragazzi e libri. Letteratura infantile (Les livres, les enfants, les hommes, 1932), Roma: Armando, 1971, p. 94. All quotations are given in my translation.

  7. Donatella Ziliotto, Introduzione, in Roald Dahl, Matilde (Matilda, 1988), Milano: Salani, 1995. As the reader has maybe understood, Ziliotto is talking of the English society (“the college”) and world view, but, later on, she highlights Dahl’s Norwegian origins to present his Nordic education and sensibility, which deeply connote his literature. She therefore draws a connection between the two areas, unified by their belonging to a common Northern attitude.

  8. See Boero - De Luca, La letteratura per l’infanzia, [1995] 2009, pp. 168-179.

  9. See ibidem, pp. 197-206.

  10. Ziliotto, “Influenze della letteratura nordica. Dahl, Michaelis, Lindgren, Jansson”, in LG Argomenti, 2004:1, p. 24.

  11. Ziliotto, Introduzione, in Karin Michaëlis, L’età pericolosa, Firenze-Milano: Giunti editore [1989] 2005, p. 8.

  12. Reported in ibidem.

  13. Reported in Marina Morpurgo, “Bibi e il suo grande cuore”, in Diario 2006: 27, p. 27.

  14. See Ziliotto, Introduzione, in L’età pericolosa, p. 8.

  15. Lindgren highlighted more than once the consolatory power of Pippi’s adventure before any other feature (nonetheless, she fought like Michaëlis for children’s rights). As for Michaëlis’ role in anticipating Lindgren’s much more popular character, see Eva Wahlström, Fria flickor före Pippi. Ester Blenda Nordström och Karin Michaëlis: Astrid Lindgrens föregångare, Göteborg-Stockholm: Makadam, 2011.

  16. Ziliotto, “Generazione Bibi, generazione Pippi”, in Francesca Lazzarato - D. Ziliotto (eds.), Bimbe, donne e bambole. Protagoniste bambine nei libri per l’infanzia, Roma: Artemide, 1987, p. 25.

  17. Both the authors pursued a kind of literature which can stimulate the youngest readers’ creativity and their active participation in the world and they both reflected on the linguistic potential at children’s writers’ and at the youngest readers’ disposal. Moreover, they pointed out a connection between children’s education through literature and the growth of peaceful, self-confident people. For further considerations, see Davide Finco, “Lennart Hellsing e Gianni Rodari: letterature per l’infanzia tra Svezia e Italia nel secondo Novecento” in Chiara Barbagianni (ed.), Quaderni di Palazzo Serra 25, Genova: Dipartimento di Lingue e Culture moderne, 2014, pp. 139-159.

  18. See Ziliotto, “Generazione Bibi, generazione Pippi”, 1987, p. 19.

  19. Pitzorno, Storia delle mie storie [1995] 2002, pp. 102-103.

  20. The Finland-Swedish Tove Jansson (1914-2001) invented the worldwide popular characters of the Moomins (and their friends in the Moomin valley), which are the subject of several novels from 1945 to 1970 and many comic strips in 1950s.

  21. Pitzorno, Storia delle mie storie [1995] 2002, p. 111.

  22. Emy Beseghi, “Polissena nel labirinto di Bianca”, in Emy Beseghi (ed.), Nel giardino di Gaia, Milano: Mondadori, 1994, p. 67. Here one further writer is mentioned, but the influence can be extended to several (although less known) others, as well as to more than one generation of (female) readers: significant testimonies are contained in Grazia Gotti - Silvana Sola - Marcella Terrusi (eds.), Astrid. La bussola segna il Nord, Bologna: Giannino Stoppani, 2007.

  23. Giuseppe Fanciulli, Scrittori e libri per l’infanzia, Torino-Genova: SEI, 1960 (new revised edition by Mario Pucci), p. 42.

  24. Olga Visentini, Primo vere. Storia della Letteratura Giovanile, Milano: Edizioni scolastiche Mondadori, [1961] 1966, p. 390.

  25. Olga Visentini, Primo vere, [1961] 1966, p. 391.

  26. 1930s Sweden was marked by a lively debate on children’s education, triggered by Alexander Sutherland Neill’s provocative work The problem child (1927), and Lindgren occasionally mentioned Bertrand Russell and his thoughts on children’s dream of power while commenting on Pippi’s international success. See Ulla Lundqvist, Århundradets barn. Fenomenet Pippi Långstrump och dess förutsättningar, Stockholm: Rabén & Sjögren, 1979, pp. 15-26.