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That Awful Mess On Via Merulana by Carlo Emilio Gadda. New York. 1965. George Braziller. 388 pages. hardcover. Jacket design by Arnold Skolnick. Translated from the Italian by William Weaver. keywords: Literature Translated Italy
FROM THE PUBLISHER –
Carlo Emilio Gadda is universally regarded as the most interesting and original writer in contemporary Italian literature, and this novel, his major work, is recognized throughout Europe as a masterpiece of baroque magnificence and savage, black humor. Most of the Pasticciaccio – as the novel is called familiarly after its Italian title - takes place on the via Merulana, ‘an unlikely setting for a great novel,’ as William Weaver says in his Introduction, and ‘the least romantic street in Rome: a long, straight thoroughfare with square, solid, ugly buildings, constructed for the square, solid bourgeoisie of half a century ago.’ In a large apartment house on this stolid street, an apartment house occupied mostly by the upper-middle-class, some rich, and some not so rich, two crimes are committed within three days of each other. After an armed hold-up in which a consideab1e sum in jewels and money is stolen, a young woman is found savagely murdered in a different apartment on the same landing, and the police investigation begins. The novel thus is, at least on the surface, a wryly amusing, exciting, exceedingly involved and, in the end, unsolved murder mystery. But the author is concerned with much more than its unraveling. Indeed, the murder mystery seems merely a rich device to expose the Rome of 1927, a society of rich ‘profiteers’ and pompous minor bureaucrats that hid behind Mussolini’s bragging rhetoric. Gadda’s great novel may therefore be seen as a profound and vast allegory of Italy’s descent into corruption and violence during the dark years of Fascist rule. In English, one could only compare Gadda to Joyce. His novel, it seems likely, will eventually have the same prominence and renown in the English-speaking world that it already has in Italy, France and Germany, in fact all over Europe. Gadda is above all close to Joyce in the power of his intellect, in the overflowing richness of cultural learning he brings to his writing, and in the great range in mood and tone of his style. As one Roman critic said on the novel’s first appearance in Italy, ‘Seasoned like a classic, the Pasticciaccio is not only the highest peak of Gadda’s art, but it is also one of the great works of XXth century Italian literature.’
Carlo Emilio Gadda (November 14, 1893 – May 21, 1973) was an Italian writer and poet. He belongs to the tradition of the language innovators, writers that played with the somewhat stiff standard pre-war Italian language, and added elements of dialects, technical jargon and wordplay. Gadda was a practising engineer from Milan, and he both loved and hated his job. Critics have compared him to other writers with a scientific background, such as Primo Levi, Robert Musil and Thomas Pynchon—a similar spirit of exactitude pervades some of Gadda's books. Among Gadda's styles and genres are baroque, expressionism and grotesque. Carlo Emilio Gadda was born in Milan in 1893, and he was always intensely Milanese, although late in his life Florence and Rome also became an influence. Gadda's nickname is Il gran Lombardo, The Great Lombard: a reference to the famous lines 70-3 of Paradiso XVII, which predict the protection Dante would receive from Bartolomeo II della Scala of Verona during his exile from Florence: ‘Lo primo tuo refugio e 'l primo ostello / sarà la cortesia del gran Lombardo/ che 'n su la scala porta il santo uccello’ (‘Your first refuge and inn shall be the courtesy of the great Lombard, who bears on the ladder the sacred bird’). Gadda's father died in 1909, leaving the family in reduced economic conditions; Gadda's mother, however, never tried to adopt a cheaper style of life. The paternal business ineptitude and the maternal obsession for keeping ‘face’ and appearances turn up strongly in La cognizione del dolore. He studied in Milan, and while studying at the Politecnico di Milano (a university specialized in engineering and architecture), he volunteered for World War I. During the war he was a lieutenant of the Alpini corps, and led a machine-gun team. He was taken prisoner with his squad during the battle of Caporetto in October 1917; his brother was killed in a plane—and this tragic event death features prominently in La cognizione del dolore. Gadda, who was a fervent nationalist at that time, was deeply humiliated by the months he had to spend in a German POW camp. After the war, in 1920, Gadda finally graduated. He practised as an engineer until 1935, spending three of these years in Argentina. The country at that time was experiencing a booming economy, and Gadda used the experience for the fictional South American-cum-Brianza setting of La Cognizione del Dolore. After that, in the 1940s, he dedicated himself to literature. These were the years of fascism, that found him a grumbling and embittered pessimist. With age, his bitterness and misanthropy somewhat intensified. In Eros e Priapo (1945) Gadda analyzes the collective phenomena that favoured the rise of Italian Fascism, the Italian fascination with Benito Mussolini. It explains Fascism as an essentially bourgeois movement. Eros e Priapo was refused in 1945 by a magazine for is allegedly obscene content, and will only be published for the first time in 1967 by Garzanti. The 1967 edition however was expurgated from some of what Gadda considered the post heavy satiric strokes. The unexpurgated original 1945 edition will be published in 2013. In 1946, the magazine Letteratura published, in five episodes, the crime novel Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana, which was translated into English as That Awful Mess on Via Merulana. It experiments heavily with language, borrowing a great deal from several Italian dialects. It is also notable for not telling whodunnit at the end. There is some debate amongst scholars as regards Gadda's sexual orientation. Certainly, his work demonstrates a strongly subversive attitude towards bourgeois values, expressed above all by a discordant use of language interspersed with dialect, academic and technical jargon and dirty talk. This is particularly interesting as the criticism of the bourgeois life comes, as it were, from the inside, with the former engineer cutting a respectable figure in genteel poverty. Gadda kept writing until his death, in 1973. The most important critic of Gadda was Gianfranco Contini.
The Age Of Doubt: An Inspector Montalbano Mystery by Andrea Camilleri. New York. 2012. Penguin Books. 274 pages. Paperback. Cover design by Paul Buckley. Cover illustration by Andy Bridge. Translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli. keywords: Mystery Sicily Translated Literature Italy. 9780143120926.
FROM THE PUBLISHER -
The day after a storm, Inspector Montalbano encounters a strange woman who expresses interest in a certain yacht scheduled to dock that afternoon. Not long after she's gone, the yacht's crew reports finding a disfigured corpse. Also at anchor is a luxury vessel with a somewhat shady crew. Both boats will have to stay in Vigàta until the investigation is over and, based on information from the woman, Montalbano begins to think the occupants of the yacht might know more about the man's death than they're letting on.. Andrea Camilleri's Montalbano mystery series, bestsellers in Italy and Germany, has been adapted for Italian television and translated into German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Japanese, Dutch, and Swedish. He lives in Rome. Stephen Sartarelli lives in upstate New York.
Treasure Hunt: An Inspector Montalbano Mystery by Andrea Camilleri. New York. 2013. Penguin Books. 288 pages. Paperback. September 2013. Cover design by Paul Buckley. Cover illustration by Andy Bridge. Translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli. keywords: Mystery Sicily Italy Translated Literature. 9780143122623.
FROM THE PUBLISHER -
In TREASURE HUNT, Montalbano is hailed as a hero after news cameras film him scaling a building—gun in hand—to capture a pair of unlikely snipers. Shortly after, the inspector begins to receive cryptic messages in verse from someone challenging him to go on a ‘treasure hunt.’ Intrigued, he accepts, treating the messages as amusing riddles—until they take a dangerous turn.
Andrea Camilleri (born September 6, 1925), a number-one bestselling author in Italy and Germany, is the author of the Inspector Montalbano mystery series and several historical novels set in nineteenth-century Sicily. His books have been translated into seven languages.
Stephen Sartarelli is a poet and translator.
Andrea Camilleri: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Lucia Rinaldi. Jefferson and London. 2012. McFarland & Company. 179 pages. paperback. keywords: Literary Criticism Mystery Sicily Andrea Camilleri Literature Translated Reference. 9780786446704. Front cover images: (inset) Portrait of Andrea Camilleri, pencil on cardboard, 30cm x 50cm, 2009, by Messina artist Pietro Bitto; sailboat - 2012, Shutterstock.
FROM THE PUBLISHER -
This is the first comprehensive reference work in English dedicated to the writing of world-famous Italian mystery writer Andrea Camilleri. It includes entries on plots, characters, dates, literary motifs, and themes from the bestselling author’s detective stories and television crime dramas, with special attention given to the serialized policeman Inspector Salvo Montalbano, Camilleri’s most famous character. It also equips the reader with background information on Camilleri’s life and career and provides a guide to the writings of reviewers and critics.
LUCIA RINALDI is a teaching fellow at University College London, Department of Italian. Her main research interests are 20th-century Italian literature and culture, in particular crime fiction. She has published articles on Italian crime writers and is coeditor of ASSASSINATIONS AND MURDER IN MODERN ITALY: TRANSFORMATIONS IN SOCIETY AND CULTURE (2007).
They Were Counted by Miklos Banffy. London. 1999. Arcadia Books. 416 pages. Paperback. June 1999. Cover image: Pender/Mynott. Design: Discript. Translated from the Hungarian by Patrick Thursfield and Katalin Banffy-Jelen. Foreword by Patrick Fermor. keywords: Literature Hungary Translated Transylvania. 190085015x.
FROM THE PUBLISHER -
Volume I of Banffy’s Transylvanian Trilogy, THEY WERE COUNTED, paints an unrivaled portrait of the vanished world of pre-1914 Hungary, as seen through the eyes of two young Transylvanian cousins, Count Balint Abady and Count Laszlo Gyeroffy. They Were Counted introduces us to a decadent, frivolous, and corrupt society unwittingly bent on its own destruction during the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Bánffy’s lush depiction of an opulent lost paradise focuses on two upper-class cousins who couldn’t be more different: Count Balint Abády, a liberal politician who compassionately defends his homeland’s downtrodden Romanian peasants, and his dissipated cousin László, whose life is a whirl of parties, balls, hunting, and gambling. They Were Counted launches a story that brims with intrigues, love affairs, duels, murder, comedy, and tragedy, set against the rugged and ravishing scenery of Transylvania. Along with the other two novels in the trilogy—They Were Found Wanting and They Were Divided—it combines a Proustian nostalgia for the past, insight into a collapsing empire reminiscent of the work of Joseph Roth, and the drama and epic sweep of Tolstoy.
They Were Found Wanting by Miklos Banffy. London. 2000. Arcadia Books. 470 pages. Paperback. Cover image: Pender/Mynott. Design: Discript.. Translated from the Hungarian by Patrick Thursfield and Katalin Banffy-Jelen. Foreword by Patrick Fermor. keywords: Literature Hungary Translated Transylvania. 190085029x.
FROM THE PUBLISHER -
Volume II of Banffy’s Transylvanian Trilogy. THEY WERE FOUND WANTING takes up the tale of the two Transylvanian cousins, their loves and very different fortunes, a year after THEY WERE COUNTED ends. Balint Abády is forced to part from the beautiful and unhappily married Adrienne Uzdy. László Gyeroffy is rapidly heading for self-destruction through drink and his own fecklessness. The politicians, quarrelling among themselves and stubbornly ignoring their countrymen’s real needs, are still pursuing their vendetta with the Habsburg rule from Vienna. Meanwhile they fail to notice how the Great Powers - through such events as Austria’s annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908 - are moving ever closer to the conflagration of 1914—1918 that will destroy their world for ever. Bánffy’s portrait contrasts a life of privilege and corruption with the lives and problems of an expatriate Romanian peasant minority whom Balint tries to help. It is an unrivalled evocation of a rich and fascinating aristocratic world oblivious of its impending demise.
They Were Divided by Miklos Banffy. London. 2001. Arcade Publishing. 326 pages. Paperback. Cover image - Pender/Mynott. Translated by Patrick Thursfield & Katalin Banffy-Jelen. Foreword by Patrick Leigh Fermor. keywords: Literature Transylvania Hungary Translated. 1900850516.
FROM THE PUBLISHER -
Volume III of Banffy’s Transylvanian Trilogy details events in Montenegro, the Balkan wars and the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand as the youth of Hungary march gayly off not only to their death on the field of battle, but to the dismemberment of their once great country.
‘Bánffy is a born storyteller’ - Patrick Leigh Fermor. ‘One of the most celebrated and ambitious classics of Hungarian literature’ - Jan Morris. ‘This epic Hungarian novel, absorbing both for its exploration of human nature and its study of the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. .. weaves social and political themes into Banffy’s powerful tale’ - Daily Telegraph. ‘A masterpiece. This very readable translation makes a wonderful book accessible to many more people’ - New Statesman. ‘A genuine case of a rediscovered classic. The force of Bánffy’s enthusiasm produces an effect rather like that of the best Trollope novels - but coming from a past world that now seems excitingly exotic’ – Times Literary Supplement. ‘Banffy’s masterpiece resembles Proust’s [yet] he writes with all the psychological acumen of Dostoevsky’ - Francis King, London Magazine. ‘A huge, historical, romantic novel [with] good story-telling, solid historical background and enjoyable drama’ – Library Journal.
Count Miklós Bánffy de Losoncz (30 December 1873—June 6, 1950) was a Hungarian nobleman, politician, and novelist. His books include The Transylvanian Trilogy (They Were Counted, They Were Found Wanting and They Were Divided), and The Phoenix Land. The Bánffy family emerged in 15th century Transylvania and established itself among the foremost dynasties of the country. They owned a grand palace in Kolozsvár (Romanian: Cluj-Napoca, German: Klausenburg), one of the main cities of Transylvania and one of the province's largest castles at Bonchida. One branch was raised to a barony in the 1660s, while another became counts in 1855. The barons produced a 19th century prime minister of Hungary (Dezso Bánffy), and the counts held important offices at court. Among the latter was Count Miklós, born in Kolozsvár on December 30, 1873. Beginning his political career at the time when Hungary was a constituent of Austria-Hungary, Bánffy was elected a Member of Parliament in 1901 and became Director of the Hungarian State Theatres (1913–1918). Both a traditionalist and a member of the avant-garde, he wrote five plays, two books of short stories, and a distinguished novel. Overcoming fierce opposition, his intervention made it possible for Béla Bartók's works to have their first performance in Budapest. Bánffy became Foreign Minister of Hungary in his cousin Count István Bethlen's government of 1921. Although he detested the politics of the Regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy, he worked to review the boundary revisions confirmed by the Treaty of Trianon after World War I through which Transylvania had been transferred to Romania. Little progress was made, and he retired from office. His trilogy, A Transylvanian Tale, also called The Writing on the Wall, was published between 1934 and 1940. Bánffy portrayed pre-war Hungary as a nation in decline, failed by a shortsighted aristocracy. In April 1943, Bánffy visited Bucharest to persuade Ion Antonescu's Romania together with Hungary to abandon the Axis and sue for a separate peace with the Allies (see also Romania during World War II). The negotiations with a delegation led by Gheorghe Mironescu broke down almost instantaneously, as the two sides could not agree on a future status for Northern Transylvania (which Romania had ceded to Hungary in 1940, and where Bonchida was located). Two years later, in revenge for Bánffy's actions in Bucharest, his estate at Bonchida was burned and looted by the retreating German army. Hungary and Transylvania were soon invaded by the Soviet Union's Red Army, an event which marked an uncertain status for Northern Transylvania until its return to Romania. His wife and daughter fled to Budapest while Bánffy remained on the spot in a vain attempt to prevent the destruction of his property. Soon after, the frontier was closed. The family remained separated until 1949, when he was allowed by Romanian communist authorities to leave for Budapest, where he died the following year. A mellowing communist regime in Hungary permitted the reissue of A Transylvanian Tale in 1982, and it was translated into English for the first time in 1999. The Castle of Bonchida is now being restored as a cultural center. An apartment is being prepared for the use of the Count's family.
The Man Who Ran Away & Other Stories Of Trinidad in the 1920s and 1930s by Alfred H. Mendes. Jamaica. 2006. University of the West Indies Press. 190 pages. Paperback. Cover design by Robert Harris. Edited by Michele Levy. keywords: Literature Caribbean Trinidad. 976640173x.
FROM THE PUBLISHER -
Alfred H. Mendes was a member of the Beacon group of writers in Trinidad in the 1930s and friend and colleague of C.L.R. James and Ralph de Boissiere. He was a prolific writer, with a distinctive and engaging voice, and he wrote a significant number of short stories, many of which have never been published and most of which were written between 1920 and `940. THE MAN WHO RAN AWAY is a collection of twelve stories with an introduction and short glossary of Trinidadian Creole words and phrases. The book is useful as a text for university literature courses, with an introduction designed or students unfamiliar with Mendes’s work, but not so dauntingly academic as to discourage a general readership.
Michele Levy is an independent researcher and academic writer. She has taught at secondary and tertiary levels and has tutored and lectured in the Department of Literatures in English, University of the West Indies, Jamaica. Since 1994 she has been engaged in research into the life and writings of Alfred H. Mendes. She has edited another collection of his short stories, PABLO’S FANDANGO AND OTHER STORIES, and THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ALFRED H. MENDES, 1897-1991.
Black Fauns by Alfred H. Mendes. London. 1984. New Beacon Books. 238 pages. Paperback. Cover design by John Hendrickse. Introduction by Rhonda Cobham. keywords: Literature Trinidad Caribbean. 0901241563.
FROM THE PUBLISHER -
ALFRED MENDES was born in Trinidad in 1897. Mendes’ creative writing belongs to ‘The Beacon’ period of Caribbean literature, which launched the early novels of the English-speaking Caribbean in the 1920s and 1930s. His first novel PITCH LAKE was published in 1934 and his second BLACK FAUNS followed a year later. In the capital of a Caribbean island, the BLACK FAUNS - Mamitz, Martha, Estelle, Christophine, Ma Christine, Miriam and Ethelrida - wash clothes for a living in the intimacy of their barrack yard. It is the 1930s. In two facing rows of rooms, each room a habitation, and separated by the expanse of communal yard, the women are quarrelsome, supportive and reflective, tender and fierce with one another. Memories and bitterness are green. Ma Christine with her obeah and speechifying about her dead husband; Miriam, the objective level-headed philosopher voraciously learned in her insights of the world; Etheirida, bristling with fire; Mamitz, secret but smart and ruthless in her determination to survive; and Martha, in fear of her shadow concealing deep springs of passion and love. It is Martha’s love affairs, first with Estelle, and then with Snakey, Ma Christine’s son, which finally lead to murder and the destruction of the yard community. Rhonda Cobham points out, in her compelling introduction to this reprint of BLACK FAUNS, the dominant role played by the women characters. They are the economic and emotional centre of West Indian lower class life.
Alfred Hubert Mendes (18 November 1897-1991), novelist and short-story writer, was a leading member of the 1930s ‘Beacon group’ of writers (named after the literary magazine The Beacon) in Trinidad that included Albert Gomes, C. L. R. James and Ralph de Boissière. Mendes is best known as the author of two novels - PITCH LAKE (1934) and BLACK FAUNS (1935) - and for his short stories written during the 1920s and 1930s. He was ‘one of the first West Indian writers to set the pattern of emigration in the face of the lack of publishing houses and the small reading public in the West Indies.’ Born in Trinidad the eldest of six children in a Portuguese Creole family, Mendes was educated in Port of Spain until 1912, then at the age of 15 went to continue his studies in the United Kingdom. His hopes of going on to university there were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. After briefly returning to Trinidad in 1915, against his father’s wishes he joined the Merchants' Contingents of Trinidad - whose purpose was to enroll and transport to England young men who wished to serve in the war ‘for King and Country’ - and sailed back to Britain. He served in the 1st Rifle Brigade, and fought for two years in Flanders, along the Belgian Front, and was awarded a Military Medal for distinguishing himself on the battlefield. Towards the end of the war, he accidentally inhaled the poisonous gas used as a weapon by the German army, and was sent back to Britain to recover. Mendes returned to Trinidad in 1919, and worked in his wealthy father's provisions business, while spending his spare time writing poetry and fiction, and in establishing contact with other writers, artists and scholars. In 1933 he went to New York, remaining there until 1940. While in the USA he joined literary salons and associated with writers including Richard Wright, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, William Saroyan, Benjamin Appel, Tom Wolfe, Malcolm Lowry and Ford Madox Ford. He went back to Trinidad again in 1940. Together with C. L. R. James, Mendes produced two issues of a pioneering literary magazine called Trinidad (Christmas 1929 and Easter 1930). Several of his stories appeared in The Beacon, the journal edited by Albert Gomes from March 1931 until November 1933. Mendes was quoted as saying in 1972: ‘James and I departed from the convention in the selection of our material, in the choice of a strange way of life, in the use of a new dialect. And these departures are still with our Caribbean successors.’ In all Mendes published about 60 short stories in magazines and journals in Trinidad, New York, London and Paris. His first novel Pitch Lake appeared in 1934, with an introduction by Aldous Huxley, and was followed by BLACK FAUNS in 1935. Both novels are significant in the history of literature from the Caribbean region and are landmarks in the establishment of social realism in the West Indian novel. In 1940, Mendes abandoned writing and worked in Trinidad's civil service, becoming General Manager of the Port Services Department. He was one of the foundering members of the United Front, a party with socialist leanings that participated in the 1946 general elections. After his retirement in 1972, he lived in Mallorca and Gran Canaria and ultimately settled in Barbados. In 1972 he was awarded an honorary D. Litt. by the University of the West Indies for his contribution to the development of West Indian literature. He began writing his autobiography in 1975 and his unfinished drafts were edited by Michèle Levy and published in 2002 by the University of the West Indies Press as THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ALFRED H. MENDES 1897-1991. Mendes and his wife Ellen both died in 1991 in Barbados and are buried together there in Christ Church Cemetery. Mendes married in October 1919, and had a son, Alfred John, the following year. His first wife, Jessie Rodriguez, died of pneumonia after only two years of marriage. A second marriage, a year later, ended in divorce in 1938. His third wife was Ellen Perachini, mother of his last two sons, Peter and Stephen. He is the grandfather of film director Sam Mendes.
Two very different versions of Horacio Quiroga’s Cuentos de la Selva:
Jungle Tales by Horacio Quiroga. New York. 2012. Self-Published by Jeff Zorilla and Natalia Cortesi. 88 pages. Paperback. Cover illustration by Bert van Wijk. Translated from the Spanish by Jeff Zorrilla. Illustrations by Bert van Wijk. keywords: Literature Uruguay Latin America South America Translated Folktales. 9780615708072
South American Jungle Tales by Horacio Quiroga. New York. 1922. Duffield & Company. 166 pages. Hardcover. Illustrated by A. L. Ripley. Translated from the Spanish by Arthur Livingston. keywords: Literature Translated Latin America.
JUNGLE TALES (Cuentos de la Selva - published originally in 1918) is a collection of eight short stories in which Quiroga captures the magic of the Misiones rainforest of Argentina, which is the scene of exciting adventures illuminated by nature in all it’s splendor. A place where snakes throw glamorous parties with flamingos, stingrays join forces to fight off man-eating jaguars, and a giant tortoise carries a wounded man on its shell for hundreds of kilometers to bring him to safety. Horacio Quiroga dedicated this book to his children, who accompanied him during that rough period of poverty in a damp basement
Journalist, teacher, carpenter, cotton farmer, justice of the peace, film critic and one of Latin America’s best short story writers, Horacio Quiroga (born on December 31, 1878 in Salto, Uruguay – died on February 19, 1937 in Buenos Aires, Argentina) was an Uruguayan playwright, poet, and short story writer, and is one of the most fascinating characters in Latin American literature. He wrote stories which, in their jungle settings, use the supernatural and the bizarre to show the struggle of man and animal to survive. He also excelled in portraying mental illness and hallucinatory states. Some of his most famous works include Cuentos de la selva (1918; Jungle Tales), Cuentos de amor de locura y de muerte (1917; Stories of love madness and death) and Anaconda (1921). He’s written over 200 pieces of fiction and has often been compared to Rudyard Kipling, Jack London and Edgar Allan Poe. Roberto Bolaño mentions Quiroga as one of the must-read authors in his famous ‘Consejos sobre el arte de escribir cuentos’ (‘Advice on the Art of Writing Short Stories’). His influence can be seen in the Latin American magic realism of Gabriel García Márquez and the postmodern surrealism of Julio Cortázar.
Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte. New York. 1946. Dutton. Translated from the Italian by Cesare Foligno. keywords: Literature Translated Italy. 407 pages.
FROM THE PUBLISHER -
KAPUTT is an overwhelming reading experience. Its pages are thronged with brilliant people, the flower and the dregs of a once grand and noble civilization. In this powerful, dramatic book, the reader hears the heartbeats of beautiful, anguished Europe. From the opening scene of luxury and magnificence in Prince Eugene’s palace at Stockholm to the final picture of complete degradation of human values in Naples, here is a remarkable panorama of the moral and physical disintegration of modern Europe. All phases of life in decadent society under the impact of Nazi domination are vividly illuminated – from the highest military and diplomatic circles living in feudal splendor and debauchery, to the dregs of humanity living in poverty and filth. With a tremendous sweep and scope, KAPUTT has as its setting all of Europe as Malaparte moves back and forth across the continent among the people of Sweden France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Romania, Poland, Finland. With compelling power, Curzio Malaparte has written a book filled with bitterness, beauty as resurgent hope. KAPUTT may well remain one of the great books to come out of Europe in this generation.
Curzio Malaparte, born Kurt Erich Suckert, was an Italian journalist, dramatist, short-story writer, novelist and diplomat. His chosen surname, which he used from 1925, means ‘evil/wrong side’ and is a play on Napoleon's family name ‘Bonaparte‘ which means, in Italian, ‘good side’. Born in Prato, Tuscany, to a Lombard mother and a German father, he was educated at Collegio Cicognini and at the La Sapienza University of Rome. In 1918 he started his career as a journalist. Malaparte fought in World War I, earning a captaincy in the Fifth Alpine Regiment and several decorations for valor, and in 1922 took part in Benito Mussolini's March on Rome. In 1924, he founded the Roman periodical La Conquista dello Stato As a member of the Partito Nazionale Fascista, he founded several periodicals and contributed essays and articles to others, as well as writing numerous books, starting from the early 1920s, and directing two metropolitan newspapers. In 1926 he founded with Massimo Bontempelli the literary quarterly ‘900’. Later he became a co-editor of Fiera Letteraria, and an editor of La Stampa in Turin. His polemical war novel-essay, Viva Caporetto!, criticized corrupt Rome and the Italian upper classes as the real enemy In Tecnica del Colpo di Stato Malaparte attacked both Adolf Hitler and Mussolini. This led to Malaparte being stripped of his National Fascist Party membership and sent to internal exile from 1933 to 1938 on the island of Lipari. He was freed on the personal intervention of Mussolini's son-in-law and heir apparent Galeazzo Ciano. Mussolini's regime arrested Malaparte again in 1938, 1939, 1941, and 1943 and imprisoned him in Rome's infamous jail Regina Coeli. During that time he built a house, known as the Casa Malaparte, on Capo Massullo, on the Isle of Capri. Shortly after his time in jail he published books of magical realist autobiographical short stories, which culminated in the stylistic prose of Donna Come Me His remarkable knowledge of Europe and its leaders is based upon his experience as a correspondent and in the Italian diplomatic service. In 1941 he was sent to cover the Eastern Front as a correspondent for Corriere della Sera. The articles he sent back from the Ukrainian Fronts, many of which were suppressed, were collected in 1943 and brought out under the title Il Volga nasce in Europa Also, this experience provided the basis for his two most famous books, KAPUTT and THE SKIN KAPUTT, his novelistic account of the war, surreptitiously written, presents the conflict from the point of view of those doomed to lose it. From November 1943 to March 1946 he was attached to the American High Command in Italy as an Italian Liaison Officer. Articles by Curzio Malaparte have appeared in many literary periodicals of note in France, the United Kingdom, Italy and the United States. After the war, Malaparte's political sympathies veered to the left, and he became member of the Italian Communist Party. In 1947 Malaparte settled in Paris and wrote dramas without much success. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Malaparte became interested in the Maoist version of Communism, but his journey to China was cut short by illness, and he was flown back to Rome. Io in Russia e in Cina, his journal of the events, was published posthumously in 1958. Malaparte's final book, Maledetti Toscani, his attack on bourgeois culture, appeared in 1956. Shortly after the publication of this book, he became a Catholic. He died from lung cancer on 19 July 1957.