Democracy and Defeat: Morante, Moravia and Malaparte in Capri, 1946
Thursday, 26 January
How Italy’s shared memory of Fascism and its cultural heritage took shape remains the most disputed question in the country’s modern history. Taking a cue from the unlikely meeting of Jewish authors Elsa Morante and Alberto Moravia with former Fascist Curzio Malaparte in Capri in 1946, the talk sheds light on the range and fluidity of opinion in years before the ideological struggle fossilized into Cold War oppositions. From conflicting political standpoints these authors challenged the assumption of Italy’s postwar moral regeneration. By stressing the continuity between the new democracy and the previous regime, their works drew attention to Italy’s responsibility in WWII, the legacy of national defeat and of Fascist politics of exclusion, in a time when these questions were conspicuously silenced.
Franco Baldasso is Assistant Professor of Italian and Director of the Italian Program at Bard College and co-Director of the Summer School “The Cultural Heritage and Memory of Totalitarianism” at Sapienza University in Rome. Fellow of the American Academy in Rome since 2019, his work focuses on the complex relations between Fascism and Modernism, the legacy and memory of political violence in Italy, and the idea of the Mediterranean in modern aesthetics. Baldasso is the author of Against Redemption: Democracy, Memory, and Literature in Post-Fascist Italy published in 2022 by Fordham University Press. He also authored three books published in Italian: Il cerchio di gesso. Primo Levi narratore e testimone (Pendragon, 2007); Curzio Malaparte, la letteratura crudele. Kaputt, La pelle e la caduta della civiltà europea (Carocci, 2019) and, with Valerio Angeletti, “L’età di Whitman” e l’esilio. L’America inedita di Paolo Milano (Mimesis, 2022). He finally co-edited a special issue of “NeMLA-Italian Studies” titled Italy in WWII and the Transition to Democracy: Memory, Fiction, Histories (2014).