Elsa morante


November 28, 2021

Elsa Morante (Rome, August 18, 1912 - Rome, November 25, 1985) was an Italian writer, essayist, poetess and translator, one of the most important post-World War II storytellers. The first woman to be awarded the Strega Prize in 1957 with the novel Arturo's Island, she was the author of the novel La Storia, which appears in the list of the hundred best books of all time, drawn up in 2002 by the Norwegian Book Club.


Born in Rome, at no. 7 of via Anicia, Elsa Morante spent her childhood in the popular neighborhood of Testaccio. Natural daughter of a Jewish teacher (Irma Poggibonsi, or Poggibonzi, originally from Modena) and of a Sicilian post office employee (Francesco Lo Monaco), she was recognized at birth by Augusto Morante, former husband of Irma, and supervisor in an institute of youth correction. Elsa grew up together with her younger brothers Aldo, Marcello (1916-2005, also a writer) and Maria (a first brother, Mario, died in infants before she was born), all children of Lo Monaco himself. The history of this family is somewhat particular, and is widely narrated in the autobiographical memoirs of Marcello Morante, entitled Maledetta Benedetta. His natural father Francesco Lo Monaco committed suicide in 1943. Elsa Morante began very young to write nursery rhymes and fairy tales for children, poems and short stories, which starting from 1933, and until the beginning of the Second World War, were gradually published in various periodicals of different nature, among which we must remember the Corriere dei Piccoli, the Meridian of Rome, The rights of the school (on which, among other things, the long story, or short novel, Someone knocks on the door, was published in 29 episodes between 1935 and 1936), and especially Oggi (directed by Mario Pannunzio and Arrigo Benedetti, on which Elsa also wrote with male pseudonyms: certainly with that of Antonio Carrera and perhaps, but less certain, with that of Renzo or Lorenzo Diodati). She also collaborated with the magazine L'Eroica, directed by Ettore Cozzani, where between 1931 and 1937 she published four decadent poems and a short story, The Jewish Child, recently found and re-proposed by the scholar Marco Bardini. Her first book was a collection of youthful short stories, The Secret Game, published in 1941 by Garzanti. This was followed, in 1942, by a children's book, entitled Le bellissime adventure di Caterì dalla trecciolina, published by Einaudi (the book is accompanied by illustrations by the writer herself; partially rewritten, Einaudi published an enlarged version in 1959, with the title The Extraordinary Adventures of Catherine). Through the painter Giuseppe Capogrossi, in 1936 Elsa Morante met the writer Alberto Moravia, whom she married on April 14, 1941; together they met and frequented the greatest Italian writers and thinkers of the time, including Pier Paolo Pasolini (with whom Elsa remained in friendship for a long time, before their definitive departure, which took place around 1971), Umberto Saba, Attilio Bertolucci, Giorgio Bassani, Sandro Penna, Enzo Siciliano. During the Second World War, to escape the reprisals of the Nazis, Morante and Moravia left Rome by now occupied, and took refuge in Fondi, a village in the province of Latina, a few kilometers from the sea. This part of southern Italy will frequently appear in the later narrative works of the two writers; Elsa Morante talks about it above all in the novel La Storia. In addition to starting the writing of Lie and Spell, during this time she began translating Katherine Mansfield's Scrapbook. After the war ended, Morante and Moravia met the US translator William Weaver, who helped them reach the US public. Through Natalia Ginzburg, Elsa Morante published her first novel, Menzogna e Sorcelio, by Einaudi in 1948. Thanks to the support of the critic

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