City Without Women: A Chronicle of Internment Life in Canada During World War II
“Lyrically written at the beginning, The City With out Women becomes a sort of catalogue of daily tasks … as a chronicle of the time, it is an important, and much delayed, addition to English-Canadian literature.”
– Catherine R. Cox, Canadian Materials
The events which began in June, 1940 and in time led to the internment of several hundred Italian-Canadians have become in recent years a more relevant part of history for all Canadians. Internment, because of its harsh intrusion on individual and family life, matters not simply to the interned but to citizens of the country carrying on the internment. One man who was interned, Montreal writer Mario Duliani, wrote an account of those many, long months in the internment camp but because he did not write in English, his work was unread by the majority of Canadians for whom English is the only tongue. Now, thanks to Antonino Mazza, Duliani’s book, The City Without Women, with its sad, telling description of internment life, can be read by the many thousands of people who ought to have read it, but did not or could not. Mr. Mazza brings to his task not only an understanding of language, but of the creative gift which is necessary to translation. His work is informed by compassion and commitment and we should be grateful that he has undertaken it. At last, The City Without Women has the audience it has long been denied.
Mario Duliani was born in Italy in 1885. A journalist and playwright from a young age, he moved to France in 1907 where he worked as foreign correspondent for Il Messagerio of Rome and wrote and staged eight French-language plays. In 1936, sponsored by the editor of La Presse, he moved to Canada. In 1937 he founded the French-language wing of the Montreal Repertory Theatre. From 1940 to 1943, as an Italian national, he was interned in Petawawa and Gagetown. After the war he resumed his career in Montreal, translating the plays of Pirandello into French and promoting the local theatre scene. La ville sans femmes was originally published in French in 1945. Duliani died in Montreal in 1964.