“Lost Books” is a weekly series highlighting forgotten books through the prism of Tablet Magazine’s and Nextbook.org’s archives. So, blow the dust off the cover, and begin!
On Oct. 16, 1943, the Nazis rounded up the Jews of Rome. Just one month before, the 31-year-old half-Jewish writer Elsa Morante had gone into hiding with her husband, Alberto Moravia, precipitating a period that would strongly inform her later writing. The lesser-known of the literary pair, Morante—private, cold, and headstrong—was considered by those in their social circles to be the better writer, though her influence never made the transatlantic jump. Much of Morante’s genius seems to have, quite literally, gotten lost in translation.
Andrea Crawford, responding in 2005 to the publication of Under Arturo’s Star: the Cultural Legacies of Elsa Morante—the first study of Morante to be published outside of Italy—wrote, “Concetta D’Angeli of the University of Pisa notes that until recently, it was considered cruel to ask even the best students about Morante, given that her work—often misunderstood and not fitting neatly into specific trends—garnered only brief mentions in most textbooks.” However, Crawford argues, international readers should view Morante, who died in 1985 at the age of 73, as one of Italy’s best writers of the 20th century.
Read Glamour and Peril, by Andrea Crawford