Synopses & Reviews
Elsa Morante was born in 1912 to an unconventional family of modest means. She grew up with an independent spirit, a formidable will, and a commitment to writing—she wrote her first poem when she was just two years old. During World War II, Morante and her husband, the celebrated writer Alberto Moravia, were forced to flee occupied Rome—Moravia was half-Jewish (as was she) and wanted by the Fascists—and hide out in a remote mountain hut. After the war, Morante published a series of prize-winning novels, including Arturo's Island
, a seminal account of the war, which established her as one of the leading Italian writers of her day.
Lily Tuck's elegant and unusual biography also evokes the heady time during the postwar years when Rome was the film capital of the world and Morante's counted among her circle of friends the filmmakers Pier Paolo Pasolini, Luchino Visconti, and the young Bernardo Bertolucci. A charismatic and beautiful woman, Morante had a series of love affairs—most unhappy—as well as friendships with such famous literary luminaries as Carlo Levi, Italo Calvino, and Natalia Ginzburg. As a couple, Morante and Moravia—the Beauvoir-Sartre of Italy—captivated the nation with their intense and mutual admiration, their arguments, and their passion.
Wonderfully researched with the cooperation of the Morante Estate, filled with personal interviews, and written in graceful and succinct prose, Woman of Rome introduces the American reader to a woman of fierce intelligence, powerful imagination, and original talent.
"Novelist Elsa Morante and the city she symbolized come alive in this warm, sprightly literary biography. Novelist Tuck (The News from Paraguay) surveys Morante's life: her troubled relationship with an unstable mother; her salad days writing magazine pieces along with having to occasionally resort to prostitution to make a living; World War II, when she and husband, Alberto Moravia, both half-Jewish, hid out from Fascist persecution in a mountain village; her postwar dolce vita immersed in friendships, affairs and dinner-table debates with Rome's glitterati. Morante emerges as a complex, vibrant character difficult, mercurial and fiercely (often rudely) devoted to truth-telling, but also kindhearted and charismatic. Tuck ties the biographical details and analyses of her subject's dreams and handwriting to sympathetic but critical analyses of Morante's protean works, which include the hothouse melodrama of House of Liars, the darkly beguiling Huckleberry Finn fable of Arturo's Island and the pitiless meditation on force and corruption of her bestselling History. Tuck sets the life in a colorful evocation of Morante's milieu, enlivened by her own youthful reminiscences of Italy's postwar film scene, that makes the book a love letter to Rome as well as to her subject. Photos. (July 29) Do you associate Texas with architectural heritage? You will after taking a look at these two books (which will be joined in September by The Homes of the Park Cities Abbeville, $75 495p ISBN 978-0-7892-0976-4; 325 color photos; 75 maps and archival images)." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Woman of Rome" represents the first biography of an Italian literary icon who is revered in her native country and admired abroad, by the National Book Award-winning author of "The News from Paraguay." 16-page b&w photo insert.
About the Author
Born in Paris, LILY TUCK is the author of four previous novels: Interviewing Matisse, or the Woman Who Died Standing Up; The Woman Who Walked on Water; Siam, or the Woman Who Shot a Man, which was nominated for the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction; and The News from Paraguay, winner of theNational Book Award. She is also the author of the biography Woman of Rome: A Life of Elsa Morante. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker and are collected in Limbo and Other Places I Have Lived. Lily Tuck divides her time between Maine and New York City.