This chapter explores ‘Il Monaciello di Napoli’ (1940), ‘Folletto a Genova’ (1984) and Il cardillo addolorato (1993), texts centred around an elf character, sharing many features with the fairy-tale genre. After discussing Ortese’s adaptation of the fairy-tale genre, it assesses her debt to traditional European and Italian folklore and literature, and explores the nature of storytelling, the grandmother figure, fantasy elements, themes of loss, childhood, modernity, guilt, suffering, and atonement, centred around the elf as a privileged emblem for the representation of the vulnerable and suffering Other. Intertextual analysis shows Ortese’s debt to Leopardi’s Canti in the construction of the theme of passing youth, to Collodi’s Pinocchio, and to Provençal poetry, while Il cardillo addolorato broadens the significance of the elf as representing underprivileged beings suffering marginalization from society and history, whose rights and existence are crushed by modernity
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