Paola Capriolo


Paola Capriolo was born in 1962 in Milan, where she lives today. She obtained a degree in philosophy from the University of Milan with her thesis on Gottfried Benn in 1996, interrupting her studies to publish her first work of fiction, a collection of short stories entitled La grande Eulalia (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1988).

Her fiction explores a range of philosophical and metaphysical issues, such as perceptions of reality, questions of identity, and the mutability of meaning. It draws particularly on myth, and on the German literary and philosophical tradition (e.g. Mann, Goethe, Rilke, Hölderlin, Novalis, Nietzsche), focuses centrally on artistic themes, and is highly imaginative and linguistically stylized. Early critics described her work as disquieting as well as intelligently written, imaginative and thought-provoking. Later works reveal a shift towards dealing less centrally with solitary or isolated protagonists, and more concern with contemporary issues and tensions, and human relationships.

Capriolo also draws inspiration from music (particularly, Wagner, Schubert, Franck), and musical allusions and analogies are found throughout her work.

As well as publishing twelve novels and numerous short stories, children's stories to date (2013), Capriolo is also a translator of German fiction (by Goethe, Keller, Mann, Schnitzler, Kafka, Simmel, Kleist, Stifter), and a reviewer for the Corriere della sera. Her fiction has been translated into several languages, including English, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. Last but not least, she is devoted to her cat.



Fiction (Novels and Short Stories)

La grande Eulalia (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1988)

Il nocchiero (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1989)

Il doppio regno (Milan: Bompiani, 1991)

Vissi d’amore (Milan: Bompiani, 1992)

Qualcosa di rosso in Il giardino degli alfabeti (Milan: Bompiani, 1994)

Il dio narrante (first published in Leggere, August 1989; subsequently in Italiana. Antologia dei nuovi narratori, ed. Ferruccio Parazzoli & Antonio Franchini (Milan: Mondadori, 1991, pp. 157-163), and in Italian Women Writing, ed. by Sharon Wood (Manchester-New York: Manchester University Press, 1993, pp. 127-131).

La spettatrice (Milan: Bompiani, 1995)

Un uomo di carattere (Milan: Bompiani, 1996)

Con i miei mille occhi (Milan: Bompiani, 1997 [accompanied by a CD: music by Alessandro Solbiati])

Barbara (Milan: Bompiani, 1998)

Il sogno dell’agnello (Milan: Bompiani, 1999)

Una di loro (Milan: Bompiani, 2001)

Gennaio, una fiaba (in Comunicare. Letterature e lingue, 3, 2003)

Qualcosa nella notte: storia di Gilgamesh, signore di Uruk, e dell’uomo selvatico cresciuto tra le gazzelle (Milan: Mondadori, 2003)

Una luce nerissima (Milan: Mondadori, 2005)

Ancilla (Roma: Perrone: 2008)

ll pianista muto (Milan: Bompiani RCS Libri, 2009)

Caino (Milan: Bompiani, 2012)

Children’s Books

La ragazza dalla stella d'oro [Fairytale] (Turin: Einaudi, 1991)

L’amico invisibile [Fairytale] (Trieste: Edizioni EL, 2006)

Maria Callas (Trieste: EL, 2007)

Indira Gandhi (Trieste: EL, 2009)

La macchina dei sogni [Fairytale] (Casale Monferrato: Edizione Piemme, 2009)

No: il rifiuto che sconfisse il razzismo (San Dorligo della Valle, Trieste: EL, 2010)

Io come te (Trieste: EL, 2011)

L'ordine delle cose (Trieste: EL, 2013)


L’ultimo viaggio (staged by Cafè Teatret, for Copenhagen: European Capital of Culture, 1996)

La bela Madunina in Maratona di Milan (Italienisch, 47, May 2002, pp. 2-7; staged by the Piccolo Teatro in conjunction with the Milan town council, July 2000)


'L’assoluto artificiale: Nichilismo e mondo dell’espressione nella opera saggistica di Gottfried Benn' (Milan: Bompiani, 1996)

Introduction to Il calzolaio Hinnerke, from Thomas Mann, Altezza Reale [Transl. by Bruno Maffi] (Bari: Laterza, 1996)

Preface to Natalia Ginzburg, Caro Michele, Corriere della sera, I grandi romanzi italiani, 23, 2003

Introduction to Rainer Maria Rilke, Poesie, Corriere della sera, La grande poesia, 2004

'Rilke: Biografia di uno sguardo' (Turin: Ananke, 2006)

Translations of German Narratives

Mann, Thomas: La morte a Venice (Turin: Einaudi, 1991)

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang: I dolori del giovane Werther (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1993)

Keller, Gottfried: Romeo e Giulietta al villaggio (Turin: Einaudi, 1994)

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang: Le affinità elettive (Venice: Marsilio, 1995)

Kafka, Franz: Il castello (Turin: Einaudi, 2002)

Schnitzler, Arthur: Doppio sogno (Turin: Einaudi, 2002)

Kleist, Heinrich von: Michael Kohlhaas (Venice: Marsilio, 2003)

Stifter, Adalbert: Pietre colorate (Venice: Marsilio, 2005)

Kleist, Heinrich von: Pentesilea (Venice: Marsilio, 2008)

Kafka, Franz: Metamorfosi (Padova: Il notes magico, 2011)

Translations of Foreign Essays

Turner, Victor: 'Dal rito al teatro' (Bologna: il Mulino, 1986)

MacIntyre, Alasdair: 'Dopo la virtú: Saggio di teoria morale' (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1988)

Hübner, Kurt: 'La verità del mito' (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1990)

Simmel, Georg: 'Filosofia dell’amore' (Roma: Donzelli, 2001)


Translations into Foreign Languages


Ania, Gillian and Thompson, Doug: The Dual Realm [Il doppio regno] (Leicester: Troubador, 2013 [2000]).

Heron,Liz: ‘Letters to Luisa’ [‘Lettere a Luisa’, from La grande Eulalia] in The Quality of Light: Modern Italian Short Stories, ed. by Ann and Michael Caesar (London: Serpent’s Tail, 1993)

—:  ‘Something Red’ [‘Qualcosa di rosso’, from Il giardino degli alfabeti: Racconti dall'Europa] in The Alphabet Garden: European Short Stories, ed. by Pete Ayrton (London: Serpent’s Tail, 1994)

—: Floria Tosca Vissi d’amore] (London: Serpent’s Tail, 1997)

—: The Woman Watching [La spettatrice] (London: Serpent’s Tail, 1998)

—: A Man of Character [Un uomo di carattere] (London: Serpent’s Tail, 2000)

Liuzzi, Teresa: ‘Letters to Luisa’ [‘Lettere a Luisa’, from La grande Eulalia] (The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 12, 3)

Venuti, Lawrence: ‘The Woman of Stone’ [‘La donna di pietra’, from La grande Eulalia] (Conjunctions, 18, 1992)

—: ‘The Blue Dove’ [from La ragazza dalla stella d’oro] (Conjunctions, 23, 1994)

Waldman, Guido: ‘The Giant’ [‘Il gigante’, from La grande Eulalia] in Frontiers, ed. by C. MacLehose (London: Harvill, 1994)

—: ‘Letters to Luisa’ [‘Lettere a Luisa’, from La grande Eulalia] in Frontiers, ed. by C. MacLehose (London: Harvill, 1994)



Ania, Gillian: ‘“Un altro mondo”: Interview with Paola Capriolo’, Milan: November 1996 (The Italianist, 18, 1998, pp. 305-341)

—: ‘At Capriolo’s Hotel: Heaven, Hell and Otherworlds in Il doppio regno’ (Italian Studies, LIV, 1999, pp. 132-156)

—: ‘Inside the Labyrinth: The Thematics of Space in the Fiction of Paola Capriolo’ (Romance Studies, 18, 2, 2000, pp. 159-171) [also available online at the University of Salford Repository]

—: ‘Music as Myth in the Fictional Diaries of Paola Capriolo’ (New Comparison, 30, Autumn 2000, pp. 59-85)

—: ‘Cara’s “Creative” Writing: The Fiction of Originality in Capriolo’s Il doppio regno’ in Essays in Italian Literature and History in Honour of Doug Thompson, ed. by George Talbot and Pamela Williams (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2002, pp. 156-171).

—: ‘Simulated Bodies: Transforming Relationships in Capriolo’s La donna di pietra and Un uomo di carattere’ (Spunti e ricerche, 18, 2004, pp. 53-76) [also available online at the University of Salford Repository]

—: ‘Learning to Read (in) the Library of Paola Capriolo’s Il doppio regno’ (Rassegna europea di letteratura italiana, 24, 2004, pp. 81-99)

—: ‘Gilgamesh, i miti, e “l’eterno ritorno”’: Interview with Paola Capriolo, Milan: September 2003 (The Italianist, 25, 1, 2005, pp. 144-172)

—: Paola Capriolo: Mitologia, musica, metamorfosi 1988-1998 (Florence: Franco Cesati Editore, 2006)

—: ‘Apocalypse and Dystopia in Contemporary Writing’ in Trends in Contemporary Italian Narrative 1980-2007, ed. by Gillian Ania and Ann Hallamore Caesar (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007, pp. 155-181)

—: ‘Afterword. Capriolo’s Worlds: Between Being and Non-being’ in Paola Capriolo, The Dual Realm  [2nd ed.] (Leicester: Troubador, pp. 123-154)

Ania, Gillian and Pellegrini, Franca: Intervista a Paola Capriolo, Università di Oxford, September 2004 (forthcoming).

Basili, Sonia: ‘Il doppio regno e Oceano mare: punti di confine e alibi di fuga nei personaggi di Paola Capriolo e Alessandro Baricco’ (Narrativa, X, 1996, pp. 185-206)

Cantelmo, Marinella: Abiti di pietra: Riflessioni sulla letteratura italiana da Manzoni a Paola Capriolo (Ravenna: Longo, 2013)

Coassin, Flavia: Female Voice-Male Rhetoric (Spunti e ricerche, 9, 1993, pp. 45-55)

Frangini, Laura: A colloquio con Paola Capriolo (Italienisch, 47, May 2002, pp. 8-21)

Guardiani, Francesco: Paola Capriolo: Interview (The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 12, 3, Fall 1992, pp. 119-122)

Hainsworth, Peter: Il detto, il non-detto e il dicibile de 'La spettatrice' di Paola Capriolo in Il detto e il non dettoAtti del Convegno Internazionale di Copenhagen, November 1998, ed. by Lene Waage Peterson, Birgitte Grundtvig, and Pia Schwarz Lausten (Florence: Franco Cesati, 2002, pp. 127-138)

Hipkins, Danielle: ‘Evil Ambiguities: The Fantastic Flight from Interpretation in Dino Buzzati’s Il deserto dei Tartari and Paola Capriolo’s Early Fiction’ (Spunti e ricerche, 13, 1998, pp. 81-98)

—: ‘The Siren Song of the Text: Male Myth-Readings in Contemporary Italian Women’s Writing’ (New Comparison, 27/28, 1999, pp. 244-260)

—: ‘A Space of His Own? The Male Artist, Space and the Fantastic in Paola Capriolo’s La spettatrice (1995) and Laura Mancinelli’s La casa del tempo (1993)’ (The Italianist, 25, 2005, pp. 97-115)

—: ’Lost in the Art(ifice) of Male Language: Finding the Female Author in Paola Capriolo’s Il doppio regno’ (Modern Language Review, 101, 1, 2006, pp. 90-105)

—: ‘Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Is there Space to Write At All? The Fantastic Language of Self-Reflexivity and Inter-Textuality in Paola Capriolo’s Fiction’ in Contemporary Italian Women Writers and Traces of the Fantastic: The Creation of Literary Space by Danielle Hipkins (Leeds: Legenda, 2007, pp. 51-122)

Manfredi, Gianfranco: ‘Esiste il mondo esterno’ in Italiana: Antologia dei nuovi narratori (Milan: Mondadori, 1991, pp. 223-259)

Mariniello, Silvestra: ‘La rappresentazione impossibile: lettura di alcuni testi di Paola Capriolo’ in Gli spazi della diversità, Atti del Convegno Internazionale Rinnovamento del codice narrativo in Italia dal 1945 al 1992, vol. II, ed. by Serge Vanvolsem, Franco Mussarra, and Bart Van Den Bossche (Rome/Louvain: Bulzoni-Leuven UP, 1995, pp. 155-165)

Palmieri, Giovanni: ‘Il grande albero nietzschiano nel giardino narrativo di Paola Capriolo’ (Autografo, 34, January-June 1997, pp. 67-81)

Pellegrini, Franca: ‘Paola Capriolo: Il gigante e Lettere a Luisa’ in Il romanzo contemporaneo: Voci italiane, ed. by Franca Pellegrini and Elisabetta Tarantino (Leicester: Troubador, 2006, pp. 59-78)

Scott, Rosemary: Self and Other in the Fiction of Paola Capriolo (Master’s Thesis, University College Dublin, 1993)

Serkowska, Hanna: ‘“Theatrum Silvae”: Questioni di rappresentazione nel racconto di Paola Capriolo’ in Da Calvino agli ipertesti: Prospettive della postmodernità nella letteratura italiana, ed. by Laura Rorato and Simona Storchi (Florence: Franco Cesati, 2002, pp. 193-203)

Van Den Bogaert, Annelies: ‘Paola Capriolo: un’eco dal paradiso ovvero un cammino della lingua verso il silenzio musicale’ in La lotta con Proteo: metamorfosi del testo e testualità della critica. Atti del 16 congresso A.I.S.L.L.I, 6-9 October 1997, ed. by Luigi Ballerini (Fiesole: Cadmo, 2000, pp. 1369-1382)

Van Den Bossche, Bart: ‘Il mito nella narrativa italiana degli ultimi decenni: alcune prospettive’ (Italianistica, XXXI, n. 2-3, May-December 2002, pp. 351-360)

Wilson, Rita: ‘The Spaces of Myth in Paola Capriolo’s Con i miei mille occhi’ (Studi d’italianistica nell’Africa australe, 12, 2, 1999, pp. 37-57)

—: ‘From Mythic Revisionism to the Limits of Realism: Anna Maria Ortese and Paola Capriolo’ in Speculative Identities: Contemporary Italian Women’s Narrative (Leeds: Northern Universities, 2000, pp. 15-43)

Wilson, Rita and Gerrand, Vivian: ‘Fra tradizione e sperimentazione: tecniche narrative nei racconti di Paola Capriolo e Carmen Covito’ (Studi d’italianistica nell’Africa australe, 17, 1, 2004, pp. 7-29)

Wood, Sharon: ‘Paola Capriolo’, in Italian Women’s Writing 1860-1994 (London: Athlone Press, 1995, pp. 266-274)


Compiled by Gillian Ania