Elsa Morante

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Elsa Morante and Alberto Moravia on Capri in the 1940s years

Elsa Morante (born August 18, 1912 in Rome , † November 25, 1985 there ) was an Italian writer who is counted among the most important representatives of post-war literature.


Elsa Morante was born the second of five children and came from the proletarian Roman district of Testaccio , where she lived on Via Anicia until 1922. That year she moved with her family to the Monteverde Nuovo district, west of central Rome, and attended the Virgilio High School there. At the age of 18, shortly after graduating from high school, she left her parents' home and lived in furnished rooms in Rome for the following years. For lack of money, she finished her literature studies, published poems and stories in magazines and gave tutoring in Italian and Latin. At the beginning of the 1930s she moved into a small apartment on Corso Umberto. In 1936 she met the writer Alberto Moravia . The couple married in Rome on April 14, 1941. Like her husband, Elsa Morante had a Jewish parent: her mother, Irma Poggibonsi, a primary school teacher from near Modena , was Jewish. Her biological father, Francesco Lo Monaco, came from Sicily. Her legal father was Augusto Morante, who worked as an educator in a reformatory for young people in Rome. With Alberto Moravia, who was accused of anti-fascist activities, she fled to Fondi in autumn 1943 and from there returned to Rome in summer 1944. After the end of the war she made numerous trips with him to Spain , the USSR , China and the USA . In 1962 the couple separated and Alberto Moravia moved out of their shared apartment on Via dell'Oca. Elsa Morante's best friends included Natalia Ginzburg and Pier Paolo Pasolini , who visited her frequently in the mid-1960s. In 1959 she met the then 23-year-old painter Bill Morrow while on a trip to New York. She developed an intense friendship with him, which ended tragically when Morrow died in April 1962.

In 1980 Elsa Morante suffered a fracture of the femur as a result of a fall, from which she never recovered. After her health deteriorated and she could not get out of bed, she attempted suicide in the spring of 1983, but it failed. In 1985, after spending two and a half years in a clinic, Elsa Morante died of a heart attack in Rome.

Elsa Morante is the aunt of the Italian actress Laura Morante .


From the age of thirteen Elsa Morante published stories in newspapers for children. In 1941 her first volume of stories was published, which was later expanded to include a new edition ( The Andalusian Scarf ). This was followed in 1948 by the first of her four great novels, Llie und Zaubererei , for which she received the Premio Viareggio that same year . Her second novel, Arturos Insel , received the Premio Strega in 1957 . In 1961 she played a small role in Pasolini's film Accattone . For several years Morante worked on a novel entitled Senza i conforti della religione , which was not published. In 1974 the novel La Storia was published , which received international recognition. Morante's last novel, Aracoeli , was awarded the Prix ​​Médicis in 1984.

La Storia was an unprecedented public success. By 1974, 600,000 books were sold in Italy, a "non-reader country" ( Der Spiegel ), despite long-term criticism from the then strong and popular left in Italy. These critics did not regard the novel as ideologically stable, Elsa Morante would spread an individualistic view of the story, there was no clear Marxist-Leninist standpoint. After the publication of the affordable paperback edition requested by Elsa Morante from the publisher, the left-wing daily Il Manifesto was criticized for a whole summer in articles and letters to the editor. It was only in the 1990s that these critics revised their opinion. Elsa Morante is now one of the most influential writers of her generation, precisely because of her non-ideological perspective.

Works (selection)

  • Il gioco segreto (1941). Stories. German-language edition: The secret game (Hamburg 1966)
  • Menzogna e Sortilegio (1948). Novel. German language edition: Lies and Sorcery (Zurich 1952)
  • L'isola di Arturo (1957). Novel. German-language edition: Arturos Insel (Hamburg 1959)
  • Lo scialle andaluso (1963). Stories. German-language edition: The Andalusian scarf (Zurich 1960)
  • Il mondo salvato dai ragazzini (The world saved by the children, 1968). Poems
  • La Storia (1974). Novel. German-language edition: La Storia (Munich, Zurich 1976)
  • Aracoeli (1982). Novel. German language edition: Aracoeli (Düsseldorf 1984)
  • Diario 1938 . Diary. German-language edition: Traumtagebuch (Zurich 1990)
  • Pro o contro la bomba atomica e altri scritti . Essays. German-language edition: For or against the atomic bomb and other essays (Zurich 1991)
  • Le bellissime avventure di Cateri dalla trecciolina . Children's book. German-language edition: The wonderful adventures of Katinka with the braid (Hildesheim 1997)
  • Racconti dimenticati . Stories. German-language edition: A frivolous story about grace and other narratives (Berlin 2003)

Secondary literature

  • Christian Ferrara: "Useppe and the others" - Elsa Morante's childhood picture in "La Storia". Grin Verlag, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-638-79496-1 .

Film adaptations

  • 1986: La Storia
  • 1961: Island of Forbidden Love ( L'isola di Arturo )

Individual evidence

  1. Maja Pflug: Biographical Afterword; in: Elsa Morante: Arturos Insel, Berlin: Klaus Wagenbach Verlag 2009, p. 421.
  2. Maja Pflug: Biographical Afterword; in: Elsa Morante: Arturos Insel, Berlin: Klaus Wagenbach Verlag 2009, p. 431.
  3. Silvia Avallone, La mia Elsa Morante incendiaria , Corriere Della Serra, Notes di libri e cultura, accessed on August 27, 2014.
  4. a b “The Secret Game” , Deutschlandradio Kultur, March 7, 2005, accessed on August 27, 2014.

Web links