Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures School of Languages and Cultures

Under Arturo's Star:  The Cultural Legacies of Elsa Morante

Stefania Lucamante and Sharon Wood, eds.

Elsa Morante has long been recognized internationally as one of the most significant and innovative writers of twentieth-century Italy; nonetheless, there has to date been no full-length study in English dedicated to her work. This collection of twelve essays by an international group of scholars offers the first comprehensive evaluation of Morante to appear outside Italy, while taking into account modern critical and theoretical developments.
  Morante’s aesthetic and ethics of writing have attracted younger Italian writers and poets, who see in her an alternative to the orthodox literary establishment, to the dictates of left-wing cultural policy, and to the introversions of the avant-garde. While Morante managed successfully to subvert traditional literary codes without being identified with any single artistic trend, she also absorbed the tradition of literature in a production that is unique within the Italian panorama. Once considered outside the canon, her work has been reclassified within it in recent years, as this volume demonstrates. In a literary context dominated by male figures such as is found in Italy, this legacy is becoming increasingly visible. While addressing topics grounded in Italian society, such as family, relationships, sexuality, and geographical dislocation, Morante deals with themes rarely touched on before, such as homosexuality, incest, the logic of madness, class struggle, drugs, and finally ecology. In all these areas, the anachronistic nature of Morante’s work places her not behind, but ahead of her time.

"...this book will be an indispensable tool to establish Morante in North American and Anglophone critical discourse as the major twentieth-century writer that she is."— Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez "the first critical study of Morante published outside of Italy." — Andrea Crawford, "Glamour and Peril," in the on-line journal Nextbook (12.01.05 This on-line essay discusses Elsa Morante and refers to Under Arturo's Star.For the complete review, cllick here <http://www.nextbook.org/cultural/print.html?id=219> 

"In this insightful collection of twelve scholarly essays, the editors offer contemporary theoretical, critical and biographical studies which combine philological analysis with cross-cultural and interdisciplinary approaches and confirm the authoritative status of Morante's oeuvre. In so doing, Lucamante and Wood provide the first inclusive critical presentation of Morante's works in  English. ... [The book] argues successfully that Morante's work deserves more scholarly scrutiny, and it reveals the uncompromising  moral and aesthetic values behind an impressive oeuvre. Those values make Morante one of the writers most read and loved by Italians. The volume will serve the interests of Morante scholars, students and anyone interested in this fascinating writer."  —Giovanna De Luca, MLN For the complete review, see MLN 122.1 (2007): 209-10.

"this solid collection of essays should help to confirm [Morante's] ranking among the most significant Italian writers to emerge in the later 20th century.... first substantial English-language publication on Morante ...a good starting point for anyone interested in understanding her still considerable importance in Italian culture or in modern fiction, comparative literature, or women's studies."—S. Botterill, Choice For the complete review, see Choice 43.10 (June 2006): item 43-5787.

"...Under Arturo's Star provides an enjoyable and insightful glimpse not only into Morante's time and her world, but into the contemporary Italian literary scene, which is why I recommend this book wholeheartedly."—Katja Liimatta-Baroncini, Italica   For the complete review, see Italica (Dec. 2007)

"... un volume destinato a dirigere gli studi morantiani verso le variegate suggestioni teoriche esercitate dal testo letterario; attesta a una magistrale impresa editoriale, una che evita l'ibridismo tematico-formale che spesso differenzia questo tipo di lavoro da queli redatti da mano unica.—Gaetana Marrone, Annali d’italianistica For the complete review, see Annali d'italianistica 24 (2006): 462-64.

"... il volume riesce a situare Morante, spesso e a torto considerata come "genio isolato," al centro di una serie di contesti culturali e intellettuali mostrando la mescolanza di elementi canonici e innovatori, ortodossi e eterodossi di tale straordinaria opera."— Nadia Setti, Leggendaria For the complete review, see Leggendaria 68 (Apr. 2008): 39-41.

For more reviews of this book, see Reference & Research Book News (February 2006): 295.

Stefania Lucamante, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, is the author of Elsa Morante e l’eredità proustiana, Isabella Santacroce, and numerous articles on the contemporary Italian novel.


Sharon Wood, the University of Leicester, is the author of
  Italian Women’s Writing 1860–1994, coeditor of the Cambridge History of Women’s Writing in Italy, and writes extensively on literature in modern Italy.

1-55753-407-1   2006.Vol. 34. x, 322 pp. Paper $43.95

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