Revisiting a controversial novel many years after its first publication can be a useful critical tool. Overreaction to its political implications almost marred the success of La Storia back in 1974, but these political sensitivities no longer exist. La Storia, Morante’s most known work, is a narrative transfiguration of the Holocaust, of the experience of the racial laws in Italy, as well as of Morante’s (re)discovery of her own Jewish identity. Lucamante’s talk uncovers a path in Morante’s writing that pre-dates La Storia and goes back to 1965, when she gave an important lecture in Turin on the atomic bomb and the tremendous detriment it brought to humanity. In this occasion, Morante formulated a clear equation between the Nazi concentration camps and the atomic bomb, viewing both as some of the most relevant “negative flowers” of humanity and progress in the twentieth century. Lucamante’s lecture considers La Storia among the most emblematic literary texts for the Shoah and argues that an ethical and moral imperative virtually led Elsa Morante to compose this complex and searing novel.
Stefania Lucamante lives in Washington, D.C. where she is Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at the Catholic University of America. Her publications include: Quella difficile identità: ebraismo e rappresentazioni letterarie della Shoah (2012), A Multitude of Women: The Challenges of the Contemporary Italian Novel (2008), Elsa Morante e l’eredità proustiana (1998), and a monograph on Isabella Santacroce (2002). She is the editor of Memoria collettiva e memoria privata: il ricordo della Shoah come politica sociale, and has recently organized an international conference on “Elsa Morante and the Italian Arts”.
An ICI Berlin Lecture in collaboration with the Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Berlino.
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