Curzio Malaparte was a journalist, novelist, travel writer, and political commentator who witnessed the rise and fall of Fascism in Italy, as well as the reconstruction of postwar Europe. This, to my knowledge, is the first monograph on Malaparte in English, a publication which goes beyond the myths and rumours surrounding his life. Through a meticulous re-examination of Malaparte's publications, this volume analyses the contrast between who Malaparte actually was, and the self-image that he tried to project into his articles and books.
Changing one's self-image was something of a prerequisite in an age characterized by constant political and social turmoil, and William Hope's book traces the way Malaparte portrayed himself - at different times - as a vengeful First World War veteran, an ardent supporter of Mussolini, a victim of the Fascist regime, a courageous war reporter, and a postwar protector of the socially excluded.
The volume is divided into ten chapters, plus an introduction, epilogue, and bibliography, and is innovative in the way it re-evaluates Malaparte's literary output. As a consequence, Malaparte's postwar travel writing, fascinating articles based on his visits to Russia and China, receive an entire chapter. By contrast, some of Malaparte's more overrated works, such as the bombastic "Maledetti Toscani"/"Those Cursed Tuscans", receive less than three lines, which is about what they deserve in terms of literary value.
All in all, an extremely interesting and useful publication.