Paola Capriolo has always complied with critics who make out the weighty presence of a 'biblioteca paterna' [paternal library] in her background. 1 Although Capriolo's own father is a translator and literary man, I use the term 'biblioteca paterna' to refer to the wide range of 'classic' male literary influences often listed by her in interview and read by critics in her work. 2 Capriolo and her critics may cite a wide range of authors and philosophers, but Capriolo's work shows a clear preference for German thought, somewhere between Romanticism and Modernism. The most obvious way in which Capriolo shows the influence of the 'biblioteca paterna' is in her apparently unquestioning replication of a traditional system of gender representation. To the question as to whether in her work 'one can connect order with man and disorder with woman, with nature' she admits that 'simbolicamente' that is the case. 3 When I asked about how she decides on the gender of certain characters she appeals to 'le necessità della storia' [the demands of the story]. 4 The very fact that a story can demand a certain gender, rightly or wrongly, surely impels us to examine the function of gender in artistic creation. For many critics Capriolo's pursuit of existential questions means that she shows no gender 'bias', but I will suggest that in bowing to the 'necessità della storia' Capriolo often participates in a millenial refusal to recognise the inherent bias which is part and parcel of the gendered system. 5 This author also vehemently opposes any consideration of her work as a female writer. 6 Taking the clichés of gender difference as an inevitable given, albeit an unfortunate one, of man or woman's existential wilderness creates a hairline crack in this author's work between her chosen narrative approach and personal experience that eventually gives rise to a new approach to the fantastic, as a trace rather than an overwhelming textual past.