Harrow - Middlesex, United Kingdom
After having obtained a Master in Foreign Languages and Literature (full marks and commendation) in 1976, Alice Wood moves to Padua where she teaches French Language and Literature in colleges. At the same time she continues her studies at the Paduan university obtaining first a Diploma of Specialisation in Italian Philology (’86) and then a PhD in Romance Philology (’90), prepared at Padua and Paris and discussed in Rome. In 1990 she also qualifies as a university lecturer in Italy and in 2000 as maître de conférences in France. As a result of a national exam she is selected by the Foreign Office to teach Italian Studies at the Shanghai International Studies University in China, in ’96 and ’97.
In 1997 she moves permanently to London where she starts teaching French and Italian in colleges. However very soon her interests turn towards library jobs and, after some experiences in very different fields, she lands at the British Library where she still works.
Her academic research has mainly focused on medieval and comparative studies, extending from Celtic traditions and Arthurian narrative of the early middle ages, through the Provençal novels, to the French Baroque theatre of the XVI century, with particular reference to journey literature. She has taken part in numerous international congresses in Italy, France and Great Britain and she has more than twenty works of literary criticism to her credit, in Italian, French and English, among which are translations from French and English and two books (one of which quickly sold out), that have received excellent international reviews. Her main study is on the Nauigatio Sancti Brendani and its ten medieval Romance versions.
Although she has written all her life, Il Libro di Panda is the first work of fiction that Alice Wood proposes to the public.
Il Libro di Panda
In Spring ’99, on a beautiful sunny day in the neighbourhood of London, the sweet, black cat Rhiannon gives birth to five splendid little babies, while a dozen days later a blonde Italian lady gives birth to her first and long-awaited daughter. The Book of Panda is the result of these happy events and of their interactions, made possible by the modern means of electronic communication: Panda, the last born of Rhiannon, writes to Ortensia, nom de plume of the daughter of the blonde lady, to share with her his sense of wonder and enchantment at the thousand marvels and mysteries of life, which they have both begun to look at with eyes full of curiosity and dreams.
The book unfolds with tales of the enchantment of daily life, in which Panda tells with passion and diligence his (very embellished) adventures and those of his numerous and lively family, counterpointed by his angelic comments. The story combines humour (in rigorous “Pandian” language) with reflections of an existential nature (such as the importance of having a grey foot or of being long haired) together with theorisations that are definitely philosophical (such as the mystery of the geographical directions). His family (his brothers, his sisters, his Daddy, his Mummy 1 and his Mummy 2 – the Huge who looks after them with love and tenderness) are fixed characters with well-defined rôles and personalities: his brother Taliesin, the savant bard; Viviane and Niniane, the two sisters who believe they are fairies; Gwyddion, practical and pragmatic, his Daddy and idol, etc. These characters are joined by more transitory characters like Mr Frog, The Men of Fire, an elusive Daddy 2 and other colourful ‘extras’.
The story narrates the events of Panda’s first exciting three months of life, ending at the celebration of his third month, a day of a great and moving spiritual epiphany, at the threshold of an incipient summer.
Interests: See above
Published writer: Yes