It is well known how Cesare Pavese - perfectly grasping the spirit of his times - defined the 1930s as "the decade of translations". Less known are the protagonists of this massive cultural mediation: women, mostly. Available sources, in fact, clearly show how women were the ones dominating the translation business. Their job entailed a flexible task, which was easily carried out (and hidden) in the privacy of a house, and was mostly ancillary to the author’s work. And yet, interestingly, for a great number of women this "appropriate" job meant getting involved in the public sphere and acquiring a certain degree of emancipation and freedom. That is what happened, for example, as they were selecting books to translate and proposing them to publishers. When in 1938 Ada Gobetti translated one of the benchmarks of American black feminism, Z.N. Hurston’s Their eyes were watching God, it was certainly not just a literary project. Who were the women who bravely engaged in the "decade of translations"? Did this process of cultural exchange and mediation affect their practices, lifestyles and mentalities? This article examines the private archive of translator Alessandra Scalero, an emblematic case-study of the ‘gender mutations’ that affected the translation industry between the two world wars.
Keywords: Women, work, translations, fascism, gender mutations, Alessandra Scalero