Talk:Donna Leon

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— Preceding unsigned comment added by SolerfanMC (talkcontribs) 12:49, 26 October 2011 (UTC)


Ericdh made some good changes, but perhaps went a bit too far. It's not just that Brunetti distrusts people from the South, racist attitudes towards Eastern Europeans and Italians from the south is repeated over and over again in the books. Saying that it is only Brunetti who has those feelings is, I'm afrain, not true. They are everywhere in the books. I suggest parts of what the former users have written is restored.

These stereotypes (which incudes not only Southerners and Eastern Europeans but also Germans and Americans) do not fit in with the rest of Brunetti's character. I have the impression that those are Donna Leon's prejudices.Unoffensive text or character 12:55, 20 October 2006 (UTC)

Actually, Brunetti seems pretty much prejudiced against most non-Venetians, with the exception of honest policemen and disadvantaged immigrants and laborers. He loves foreigners who take the trouble to learn the Venetian dialect. To me, this is simply a form of provincialism, which is pretty common in Italy and the rest of the world. My main edit, however, concerned the criticism of Leon's writing as falling into the conventions of the mystery genre. Well, they -are- mysteries! Ericdh 14:46, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

The second paragraph is rife with "wiggle words" or "weasel words". I have added a flag for that. Can anyone find citations for the statements? Jennifer Brooks 01:39, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

You're right, it should be sourced. I remember reading an article about it long ago but I cannot seem to find it. Personally speaking, I think it's correct. Leon is a writer I enjoy reading but I'm often disturbed by the fact that all Eastern Europeans and Southern Italians are depicted as either corrupt or criminal. Having said that, my personal opinion should not be the basis for a paragraph :) I'll look for some sources. JdeJ (talk) 15:16, 3 March 2008 (UTC)

I removed an edit which was unencyclopedic. That she worked on an American base is ok, that the book are B-level is POV, and that the music world is wary of controlling angry lesbians... Well, maybe, but it should be written differently. If you want to state she's a lesbian, it's okay (maybe with a reference), but don't write it as in a gossip column ^^ Ratfox (talk) 00:48, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

As it is currently, the article doesn't seem to me to contain weasel words, do you think the weasel tag could be removed ? StefanoC (talk) 08:54, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree that there don't seem to be any weasel words in there to me (I second the vote for the removal of that tag). I've only just discovered the books (up to #5 now) and I think the paragraph on "Setting" seems pretty fair. Brunetti has his prejudices, but that is a valid part of the character, however they are mild, except for the rage he (justifiably, I'd say!) feels at the endemic corruption that plagues much of Italian society... or, more correctly, at the perpetrators and beneficiaries of that corruption: the corruption itself he wearily accepts as something that just has to be lived with ("that which cannot be cured, must be endured"). In turn, that is not really a prejudice (in the sense of "pre-judgement"), but rather the product of a lifetime of bitter experience (hence "post-judgement"!), which is quite a different thing.
However, I would suggest that an appreciation of the series of novels should not form part of an article on the author, but should instead be in a separate article linked to from such a Bio page. Both could contain the list of novels (maybe using some clever transclusion technique that I doubt I'll ever master <g>). Mikepeat (talk) 00:52, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
Agreed that as it stands right now I can't see any weasel words. The article could be better sourced, and the paragraph about the books should ideally be in a separate article. But right now I'm just going to remove the weasel tag. -- Spireguy (talk) 03:23, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

It is not true that all southerners are negatively depicted. Commissaro Claudia Griffoni is an increasingly important character, always depicted positively so far, and an ally of Brunetti. She's also tall, blond, and blue-eyed, defying stereotypes about southerners. Brunetti does notice his own, and other Venetians', prejudice against southerners, and shows concern about it. The statement about Brunetti "loving foreigners who take the trouble to learn Veneziano" makes no sense at all. Leon has stated in interviews, and has had her characters say, that it's foolish and in appropriate for non-Venetians to try to speak Veneziano. There was one character early on, can't think of her name right now but she's Flavia Petrelli's lover in Alta Aqua, who is an American but lived in Venice as a child, and speaks Veneziano as a native. Other characters remark on how jarring it is to hear the dialect from her. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:36, 13 July 2016 (UTC)

Who is the real "Donna Leon"?[edit]

One of the oddities I'm finding in all the biographies of "Donna Leon" is the lack of detailed information about the background and history of the purported author of these Commissario Guido Brunetti books.  I have yet to find anything definitive about that author's birthdate and place of birth, education, work experience, family, and early history.  The educational background of this author is vague and unsubstantiated; a BA (1963) and MA (1965) in English literature (no college/university given for the BA, the MA reportedly received somewhere "... in Indiana"), a student vacationing in Italy with a friend, a teacher in various "American schools" in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and then a teacher of English literature at the American armed forces enclaves in Vicenza and Aviano, Italy.  That's it.

Here's a few examples of the vagueness and uncertainty in the author's background: The Barnes & Noble website gives "Donna Leon"'s birthdate as February 28, 1962, while other websites give the author's birthdate as September 29 1962.  Another instance: One website gives the author's place of birth as "New York" while many others give "New Jersey" as the author's place of birth.  And one (the only one I've found to date) gives a location in New Jersey as the purported author's place of birth.

In an extensive Google search of English, German, and Italian websites, and in a search of English, German, and Italian Wikipedias (and the German WikiQuotes) I have found little more than the little bit of biographical information that this Wikipedia article contains.  There are certainly many, many interviews in which "Donna Leon" describes her ideology, her likes and dislikes, her favorite things, and her great interest in opera. But in every case, in all the interviews I've read (and listened to), there have been no questions asked of or volunteered by "Donna Leon" about her life before Death at La Fenice (1992).

So, who is the real "Donna Leon"?

Is "Donna Leon" a pseudonym, a curtain behind which the author is able to weave -- without receiving personal criticism -- her social philosophy, commentary, and criticism into the fabric of very readable and certainly highly literate detective stories?  Throughout the history of literature many, many authors have done so, and commendably so.  And as a pseudonym for a woman whose novels are centered in Venice, who has lived in Venice for many years, the pseudonym "Donna Leon" is more than suitable: Donna being standard Italian for "woman", and Leon being Vento/Venetian/Veneziamo for "lion" -- the Lion of St. Mark being the symbol of Venice.  Hence "Donna Leon", a woman of Venice, would certainly be an appropriate pseudonym for the author of the Commissario Guido Brunetti series.

But then, if "Donna Leon" isn't a psuedonym used by the author of the series, then what reason can there be for so very little real biographical information about the author being made available to the public?

K. Kellogg-Smith (talk) 04:57, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

For the record, the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) with whom "Donna Leon" was last employed is not, repeat not, affiliated with the University of Maryland at College Park or any of its branch locations. UMUC is an independent Maryland public university, an international, global, university which is very closely affiliated with the United States government, particularly the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of State.  All of the overseas locations of UMUC, including those at which "Donna Leon" has taught, are on U.S. military bases, and the students are primarily U.S. military personnel.  There are (or have been in the case of Iran) also U.S. Department of State 'approved' "American School" locations in all of the countries listed in the 'official' Donna Leon website (Grove Press) as being places where "Donna Leon" has lived and/or worked.  These "American School" locations are there for the dependent children of employees of the various U.S. government agencies operating in those countries.  It's possible then, isn't it, that "Donna Leon" might have been employed as an English teacher at U.S. State Department approved schools in the countries she is listed as having lived/worked?
What this all seems to me to imply is that "Donna Leon"'s childhood, schooling, and post-university employment could very well all have been entirely U.S. government/U.S. military oriented.  If so, might this kind of background pose a difficult dichotomy for an author whose social commentary and criticisms seem to have its roots in the "turbulent '60's" era of Woodstock, peace and love, campus rebellion, awareness of social injustices, and the photographing, investigation, and dossier-making by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of students whose only crime was protesting the Vietnam War and the suppression of black citizens' rights, and other U.S. government interventions into the rights of U.S. citizens?

K. Kellogg-Smith (talk) 03:25, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

That was an entertaining read. You're convincing, I'll try to look into it. You do realize you sound a little bit crazy? You seem to be one step away from suggesting she is a spy. JamaUtil (talk) 22:28, 7 July 2010 (UTC)
Regarding the spy comment, the first paragraph of chapter 8 of Leon's About Face (2009) summarizes what amounts to the activities of a spy, and everything about the recurring character of Signorina Elettra suggests spying (or better perhaps, parodies undercover espionage). Regarding the paucity of specific information about Leon's early life, no conspiracy theory is necessary. The simple possibility exists that no one has yet bothered to explore the hardcopy sources that are typically required for researching the biography of anyone who reached maturity before the 1990s. I am thinking of such things as birth notices in local newspapers, material printed in social columns, published graduation lists, announcements of awards or contracts, high school and college annuals, city directories, and college catalogs that list faculty appointments. There should also be notices of her earliest successes in the trade rags of the publishing world, and entries in the several voluminous directories of writers and authors that used to be produced. It does seem unfortunate for literary criticism that Leon's biography is (apparently) not well fleshed out because the biographical approach is both a valid one and a natural one in the case of a writer who relies heavily on her own residential environments for the creation of settings. Some valuable morsels of Leon's life story are dispensed here: from which I quote: 'The American novelist didn't even have to search for a pen name when she wrote her first detective novel nearly 50 years ago. Her own name, Donna Leon, already sounded like a trademark. ... She was born in Montclair, New Jersey in 1942, had a carefree and happy childhood and became a world traveler shortly thereafter. At age 23, she left the US to study in Italy. For 15 years, from 1965 to 1980, she worked as a travel guide in Rome, an advertising editor in London and taught English in schools in Switzerland, Iran, China and Saudi Arabia. ... However, it certainly wasn't any fun when her dissertation on Jane Austin was lost as she fled the Islamic revolution in 1979. She had worked on the draft for five years. The loss also meant the end of her academic career as a literary scholar." Twenty-three years after 1942 is 1965, and twenty-three is an age when graduate studies would unsurprisingly be under way. On the other hand, it would be unusual for a dissertation begun in the mid-1960s to have been still unfinished in 1979. Those dates suggest to me not the pattern of Americans who continue directly out of an undergraduate into a graduate program, but rather that of people (possibly the majority of this group women) who begin graduate studies after some years of marriage and/or working at a career. By the way, if this article is correct in dating Leon's first detective novel to "nearly 50 years ago," hence ca. 1967, then it was evidently not published at the time. Returning to the relevance of Leon's biography to criticism of her books, I would note the contrast between her emphasis in many passages of her Brunetti novels on the advantages of long (even multi-generational) residence in Venice and her own peripatetic lifestyle prior to 1980. This contrast, which engages notions of nostalgia, memory, and irony, is what makes the delineation of Leon's life a serious matter and nit just a gossipy one. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:244:4000:FC6:3CC4:A2F4:902E:3AD1 (talk) 20:11, 21 October 2017 (UTC)

'Fact' tags and minor edits added[edit]

I've added three 'fact' tags to the article:  (1)  Barnes & Noble's DOB is given as February 28th, most other sources give her DOB as September 28th, not the 29th, (2)  there are no definitive sources anywhere that I've found in my research that entitle her to use the title "Professor" as a teacher, (3)  the HR department at UMUC (Europe) is the only definitive source that I know of for the date that she terminated her employment with them; if the author of this article has a different reference source for her termination date then it should be shown, as her termination date impacts on the substance and quality of her novels written and published subsequent to that date.

I also revised the awkward word order, punctuation, and cite location of the reference to her refusal to have her Brunetti novels published in Italy.  Note: The reference link given is just one of many utterances and different reasons she has given for doing so in the many interviews she has given to English, American, German, and Spanish interviewers.

I took the liberty of adding a link to Alan Curtis' Baroque-music/opera/period instrument orchestra "Il Complesso Barocco" in the "External Links" section of the article, since she has been underwriting that conductor's orchestra, and her financial patronage may be a significant influence on the orchestra's favoring recordings and performances of Händel's operas, a composer who she says in interviews that she greatly admires.  She is prominantly featured in several group photos on the website of that orchestra, and has written CD liner notes in recordings of opera's which Curtis' orchestra has performed.

K. Kellogg-Smith (talk) 13:41, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

Ms Leon[edit]

This is a rather private person who writes Venetian mysteries and is clever enough to make a "cottage industry" of her character Detective Brunetti, with not only the several books of mysteries but also now a Brunetti "cook book" and "A Tour of Brunetti's Venice" or, some such title as that. What will be next? I applaud Ms. Leon in that and I do not think everything has to be said here except the essentials as she obviously likes to live a private life style in Venice. I think what she states in her interview is that she likes a certain amount of anonymity when she walks the streets of her home, Venice, and is therefore deliberate and cleverly vague about her life for that reason. It is OK to speculate privately but I do not think we need to try to nail down too many facts about her in the article since she obviously does not give them. Just my opinion. Mugginsx (talk) 05:51, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

After reading a few of her novels, I personally find her anti-religious, anti-american, pro-environmental socialistic diatribes to be so prevalent as to be intrusive into the otherwise fine plots. They are certainly unnecessary to the storyline and seem to be a personal crusade for her. Possibly why she prefers to live abroad. Again, just my opinion. Mugginsx (talk) 10:33, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

A sentence cut too short etc[edit]

The sentence "The fact that Brunetti can, serves as the vain and self-serving Buffo ..." seems to have accidentally been cut more than intended. What is Brunetti able to do? Who serves as a buffo? Vice-questore Patta?


Has a book title list been removed for copyright reasons? I must admit that this seems a little far-fetched to me ...

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Date of Leon's settlement in Venice (1968)[edit]

In a 2013 interview published here , Donna Leon stated: '"When I came to Venice in 1968, people here still went swimming in the canals," says Donna Leon. Born in the United States, Leon now lives and writes on the upper floor of a palazzo behind the church of San Canciano.' On the neighborhood, there is:,_Venice — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:244:4000:FC6:4DC5:9673:9075:3061 (talk) 18:28, 21 October 2017 (UTC)