Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: May 19, 2020
Diary of a Foreigner in Paris
by Curzio Malaparte, translated from the Italian and the French by Stephen Twilley, with an introduction by Edmund White
An NYRB Classics Original
In 1947 Curzio Malaparte returned to Paris for the first time in fourteen years. In between, he had been condemned by Mussolini to five years in exile and, on release, repeatedly imprisoned. In his intervals of freedom, he had been dispatched as a journalist to the Eastern Front, and though many of his reports from the bloodlands of Poland and Ukraine were censored, his experiences there became the basis for his unclassifiable postwar masterpiece and international bestseller, Kaputt. Now, returning to the one country that had always treated him well, the one country he had always loved, he was something of a star, albeit one that shines with a dusky and disturbing light.
The journal he kept while in Paris records a range of meetings with remarkable people—Jean Cocteau and a dourly unwelcoming Albert Camus among them—and is full of Malaparte’s characteristically barbed reflections on the temper of the time. It is a perfect model of ambiguous reserve as well as humorous self-exposure. There is, for example, Malaparte’s curious custom of sitting out at night and barking along with the neighborhood dogs—dogs, after all, were his only friends when in exile. The French find it puzzling, to say the least; when it comes to Switzerland, it is grounds for prosecution!
Curzio Malaparte moved back and forth politically and professionally like a ping pong ball—a Tuscan from Prato, his philology, philosophy and friendships make him a perfect exemplar of the adage: 'Italy never ended a war on the same side on which she started.' To say the least, despite prison, wars and disputatious behavior, he was a survivor par excellence. He wrote fascinating novels, including Kaputt, and my personal favorite, The Skin. His Diary of a Foreigner in Paris is a self-conscious record of a man-against-the-world’s desperate denouement. Malaparte is a Man Apart—a writer like no other.
Malaparte is discreet, urbane. His vision is Baroque, terrifying, unruffled.
—Edmund White, The New York Review of Books