In a 1978 volume on the new narrative of the 1970s, Walter Pedullà and Silvana Castelli argued that women's writing offered an opportunity for the renewal of literature and a way out of the literary Narcissism and death wish into which male novelists had sunk. 1 While Pedullà, from a more directly ideological standpoint, claims that women are the only group capable of salvaging the decade because they are the only ones 'o quasi, a far guerra nella cultura d'oggi', 2 Castelli applies a more strictly literary perspective to the possibilities inherent in women's writing. If the experimental male writers she reviews represent a reality at the point of laceration, which leaves no space for Utopia or illusions, the texts by the four women writers she proposes present self-willed segregation and silence as strategies for evasion from and resistance to that same reality. The female characters created by Leila Baiardo, Mariapaola Cantele, Toni Maraini and Rosetta Loy succeed in turning 'la gabbia' — the traditional places of female enclosure: the asylum, the convent, bourgeois childhood, femininity — into 'l'ombra', a marginal space of dissidence, from where they are able to overthrow the repressive and persecutory machine of conformity and normality and save themselves from literal or metaphorical death. 3 Occupying the shadow is not an act of regression, but one of transgression, because the shadow is a workshop in which to experiment with language and create free forms capable of expressing repressed desire. This space/language is not a female prerogative: in fact men have practised writing from the shadow in times of repressive, phallic and violent totalitarian regimes, when art has become 'degenerata' and 'svirilizzata'. Yet, women, who have always inhabited a space of non-representation, have been able to develop strategies for survival in the shadow and outside the official language. 4 Two of the novels Castelli quotes are radical examples of this trend in women's writing: in Cantele's Il Vegegufo (1975), a modern Medea turns the asylum into a place of resistance to engulfing motherhood, while in Toni Maraini's Anno 1424 (1976) a young woman has herself immured in a cell and opposes a highly resonant silence to the word of those in power. Both protagonists deny language, in an act of extreme repression which turns into one of extreme revolt. 5