The aim of this contribution is to tackle an already highly researched subject by adopting a fairly unprecedented perspective. I would like to concentrate on the representation of Sardinia in one of the most important historical moments for the construction of the image of the island in a modern perspective: the first decades of the twentieth c...entury. I will try to make two apparently distant text types interact: tourist guides and travel reports written by linguists. I will focus on two prototype examples: on one hand the Reisebilder aus Sardinien by Max Leopold Wagner; on the other, the Touring Club Guide dedicated to Sardinia, written by Luigi Vittorio Bertarelli. My intent is to trace the similarities and differences of the two textual typologies in presenting a region at the time universally imagined (and narrated) as different, atypical and in any case "peculiar". In doing so, I will also try to highlight continuity and discontinuity with respect to the nineteenth-century representative methods.
The term accabadora refers to a woman entrusted with the task of facilitating the passing of the dying people. She killed for pity, called by the families of the patients to relieve their sufferings on their own deathbed. Basically, she practiced a sort of ante litteram euthanasia. But that carried out by the woman was also a necessary action f...or the survival of relatives who, most of the time, did not have the necessary resources to alleviate the sufferings of the kinsmen. Furthermore, in small towns, the doctor was often several days away on horseback. While the accabadora took life away, on the other hand, she gave it back, helping the women of her community to give birth. Everyone in the village knew the activity of these women but all of them were silent. They were convinced that the work of the accabadora was a meritorious work because it took the burden of putting an end to the sufferings of the patient. They implicitly recognized in it a social utility. After outlining the figure of 'sa fèmmina practica', this report analyses some works by Sardinian authors who are interested in it. Above all, we will mention the novel by Michela Murgia, Accabadora (Campiello prize 2010); the film by Enrico Pau, L'accabadora; the novels L’ultima agabbadòra by Sebastiano Depperu and L'agabbadora. La morte invocata by Giovanni Murineddu; the short film Deu ci sia by Gianluca Tarditi, winner of the 2011 Golden Globe at 48th New York Film Festival; Ho visto agire s’accabadora by Dolores Turchi; Eutanasia ante litteram in Sardegna. Sa femmina accabadora by Alessandro Bucarelli and Carlo Lubrano and S’accabadora e la sacralità del femminino of Maria Antonella Arras.
Abstract: L'accabadora, is a Sardinian term deriving from the Spanish word 'acabar' which means to finish or complete. It refers to a female figure in Sardinian popular tradition, 'the last mother', an angel of mercy who assists the terminally ill in leaving the world. In this paper I explore variations of this female...figure in two contemporary films. Enrico Pau's film L'accabadora set in pre- and World War II Sardinia, revolves around a protagonist (Annetta) who is a direct descendant of this Sardinian tradition. The second film, Valerio Golino's Miele, proposes what might be considered a contemporary variant of the Sardinian folk figure. While the tabu subject of euthanasia certainly forms the backdrop to the films, what is foregrounded is the isolation and alienation of the female protagonists who carry out care-giving roles tied to death. Torn between the conviction that the tasks they perform as “last mothers” console or provide final moments of serenity to the dying and an intangible discomfort with their execution of the task, they remain seemingly haunted by their roles, exhibiting an unease that arises from societal discomfort with administering death and a profession that requires that they direct their care to the dying rather than to the living. The representation of the films’ protagonists, their framing and the construction of the journeys they undertake, turn both films into narratives of self-discovery, motivated by encounters with others and otherness, and visually configured by the physical mobility across transformed geo-political landscapes that is central to the films.
Sardinian contemporary literature and films have recently recovered an extensive heritage of folk myths and legends taken from the oral tradition. Legendary figures, such as accabadoras (female figure who was enabled with the task of easing the sufferings of the dying people), and fantasy creatures, such as cogas, surbiles... (‘vampire witches’), janas (‘fairies, pixies’), and panas (‘the ghosts of women who died in childbirth’) are being revived by writers and film directors with the purpose to bring their memory back to life and share it with a wide audience of readers and spectators.
The analysis of imaginary and legendary creatures in Sardinian contemporary literature cannot overlook orality and its central role in shaping popular imagination over the centuries. Writing has replaced orality, whilst mass media and digital media are getting the upper hand over storytelling as a practice of community and family aggregation, meant to mark the long working hours and scare the children, amongst the most common functions of Sardinian oral storytelling.
The literary corpus includes fairy tales, novels, tales and legends dealing with the Sardinian oral tradition, whilst on the cinematic side I will examine short films, feature films and documentaries made in Sardinia over the last fifteen years.