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Malaparte: A Biography

Malaparte: A Biography

by Maurizio Serra, translated from the Italian by Stephen Twilley

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Curzio Suckert (1898-1957) —best known by his pen-name Malaparte—was not only a literary master but one of the mystery men of twentieth-century letters. The son of a cosmopolitan German businessman, his mother an Italian, Malaparte led a life that was intimately entwined from start to finish with the twentieth-century's troubled history, and only recently has it become possible to begin to separate fact from the screen of fictions with which he continually surrounded himself.

Diplomat and novelist Maurizio Serra tells the story of a precocious child who hurried to enlist in the French Army and endured the horrors of trench warfare in World War I. Taking up the pen of the journalist in the interwar years, Malaparte both allied himself and fell out with Mussolini, writing his provocative bestseller The Technique of the Coup d'Etat to popularise the lessons of the Bolshevik revolution and the fascist March on Rome before being sent into exile in provincial Italy. During World War II, Malaparte reported from the Eastern Front, joined forces with the occupying Allies after Mussolini's fall, and secretly wrote the first of his two masterpieces, Kaputt, a record of wartime enormities and atrocities that is as stylish as it is hellish. With The Skin, a black comedy about the American Army in Naples, Malaparte cemented a reputation for daring and disturbing originality. A polymath and shapeshifter—fascist, communist, a converted Catholic on his deathbed—a self-mythologizer on the move between society salons, the corridors of power, and the frontlines, Malaparte is a complex and fascinating subject.

Additional Book Information

Series: New York Review Books
ISBN: 9781681378701
Pages: 600
Publication Date:


Indeed the writer Malaparte was, or tried to be, numerous characters at the same time: soldier, displomat, trade unionist, man of action, politician, journalist, film director…, always, of course, in his own manner. That is why the task that Serra took on, that of writing several biographies at once of one and the same subject, was of almost insuperable difficulty. The fact that he has succeeded in it is due to Maurizio Serra’s being not only an elegant literary critic but also an established historian…. In Serra’s book, all of Malaparte’s lives are examined and effectively dissected one by one, but the author never loses sight of the man as an overall whole.
—Alberto Indelicato, Diogenes

An uncompromising biography.
—René de Ceccatty, Le Monde

[Serra’s] investigation delves into the multiple skins of the "chameleon" Malaparte, sorting out the mythomania and truths of an indefatigable provocateur, bard of the agonies of old Europe.
—Christophe Ono-dit-Biot, Le Point

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