Literature and War Readalong August 26 2011: La Storia – History by Elsa Morante

The readalong book for August, La Storia or History,  is one of the most important books of Italian literature. It is also quite a substantial book, depending on the edition, it is over 800 pages long which is why I decided to post the introduction already today to give anyone who would like to read along the opportunity to do so.

I’m already on page 150 and fascinated by her writing that reminds me of Latin American literature in its exuberance. Before the individual chapters there are detailed accounts of the history of Italy. La Storia is pretty much the story of a woman, the schoolteacher Ida Ramundo, and the history of a country. Given all the atrocities Germany committed we tend to forget that there were allies like Italy. The history of Italy during WWII is  story of megalomania, bad choices and bad planning and borders quite often on the ridiculous. But there are also stories of resistance and heroism. This, however, is not the topic of this novel.

I did a bit of research and found out that a lot of this novel is based on Morante’s own life. Her mother was half Jewish and a teacher, like Morante herself.

Elsa Morante was married for quite a long time to Alberto Moravia, author of  La Noia (Boredom) and many other outstanding books.

History isn’t Morante’s only novel, she is also the writer of Aracoeli and L’isola di Arturo (Arturo’s Island).

La Storia has been made into a mini-series starring Claudia Cardinale as Ida Ramundo.