“I developed a thirst for open spaces, a craving for the sun; a horror of all mists and a terror of every limit."
Who she was
Vittoria Aganoor was an Italian-Armenian poet whose work placed her among the most respected female Italian writers.
Born to a noble Armenian family in Padua (Padova), Italy, she grew up in the “Casa degli armeni” (House of the Armenians), until they later moved to Naples. Her father was from India but settled in Europe, starting out in Paris but moving to Italy to be near the Armenian Catholic monks, called Mekhitarists, whose monastery was on the island of San Lazzaro in Venice. Vittoria’s tutor as a child was the Italian writer Giacomo Zanella, who was impressed by her early works and urged her to continue writing.
She published her first book of poetry, “Eternal Legend” (“Leggenda Eterna”), when she was 45, and dedicated it to the memory of her mother. Although she was worried it would not impress, it was exceedingly well received. Writing about Aganoor’s canzoniere [Italian sonnet], the Italian philosopher, intellectual and critic Benedetto Croce said that it was “the most beautiful ever composed by an Italian woman.” In light of the positive reception of her first work, she published a second book, “New Lyrical Pieces” (“Nuove liriche”).
Although she lived a privileged life, Aganoor was depressed - and her writings reflected it. Her poems and letters were an outlet for her; she reveled in the freedom to use them to allay the morass of her melancholy. Her mother’s death shattered her completely, but she was revived by her marriage to the Italian nobleman, Guido Pompilj.
Aganoor died suddenly from cancer, and her husband, overwhelmed with grief, committed suicide the same day.
Learn more about her
University of Chicago: Italian Women Writers: Vittoria Aganoor
Treccani (Italian Encyclopedia): Vittoria Aganoor (in Italian)