The Tigress in the Snow explores how literature reacted to, influenced, and shaped the evolving notion of motherhood in twentieth-century Italy. From the late-nineteenth century rhetorical celebration of the mother as Madonna, to the Fascist regime's demographic campaign and feminist revisions of the maternal role, Laura Benedetti shows how the mother's social status was a site of constant negotiation in Italy during the last century and how this negotiation came to be represented in literature. To illustrate her theme, she stresses both similarities and differences among four generations of women writers, as well as their complex interaction with their male counterparts, and their reactions to changes in Italian society. The Tigress in the Snow highlights literature's role in the formation of cultural discourses right up to the dawn of the twenty-first century. An intriguing look at the changing nature of motherhood in a country that has always valued the maternal institution, this volume goes further to show how literature investigates, shapes, and envisions social models for the present and future.