History: A Novel

History: A Novel

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by Elsa Morante
     
 

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During World War II, Elsa Morante and her husband, antifascist novelist Alberto Moravia, fled the German occupation in Italy. Out of this experience came History, the moving saga of a widow's courage. "A masterpiece. . . . One of the few novels in any language that renders the full horror of Hitler's war." - Alfred Kazin, Esquire.

Overview

During World War II, Elsa Morante and her husband, antifascist novelist Alberto Moravia, fled the German occupation in Italy. Out of this experience came History, the moving saga of a widow's courage. "A masterpiece. . . . One of the few novels in any language that renders the full horror of Hitler's war." - Alfred Kazin, Esquire.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Written in 1974 but first published in the United States in 1977, this was Morante's first novel in 18 years. As the cryptic title indicates, the theme of this novel, said LJ's reviewer, is how "history obscures individual lives." Though the book portrays the brutal existence of one Italian family after World War II, LJ's reviewer added that "there is so much to praise in this long, wonderfully rich novel, including the effortless translation, that its flaws--occasional clumsiness of narration, repetition--are minor indeed" (LJ 4/15/77). The edition contains a new foreword by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780394724966
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/15/1984
Series:
Aventura
Edition description:
1st Aventura ed
Pages:
561

Read an Excerpt

History was written nearly thirty years after Elsa Morante and Alberto Moravia spent a year in hiding among remote farming villages in the mountains south of Rome. There she witnessed the full impact of the war and first formed the ambition to write an account of what history - the great political events driven by men of power, wealth, and ambition - does when it reaches the realm of ordinary people struggling for life and bread.

The central character in this powerful and unforgiving novel is Ida Mancuso, a schoolteacher whose husband has died and whose feckless teenage son treats the war as his playground. A German soldier on his way to North Africa rapes her, falls in love with her, and leaves her pregnant with a boy whose survival becomes Ida's passion.

Around these two other characters come and go, each caught up by the war which is like a river in flood. We catch glimpses of bombing raids, street crimes, a cattle car from which human cries emerge, an Italian soldier succumbing to frostbite on the Russian front, the dumb endurance of peasants who have lived their whole lives with nothing and now must get by with less than nothing.


"One of the few novels in any language that renders the full horror of Hitler's war, the war that never gets into the books . . ."-- Alfred Kazan, Esquire

"A storyteller who spellbinds."-- Stephen Spender, The New York Review of Books

"A marvel of a novel . . . all the pleasures that fiction can offer."-- Doris Grumbach, Saturday Review

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4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
MarioRiosPinot More than 1 year ago
I've read about one hundred pages and I find myself engaged by the novel. I looked Elsa Morante on wikipedia and thought her interesting because of her marriage to Moravia. She has a wonderful amusing way of describing children, adolescents and animals. She also portrays ordinary stunted people who dream secretly. Al in all, a good read. Thank you.
Maximillian More than 1 year ago
I believe this is a rather obscure book, published in the 1970s. It is worth the time and effort to read it. It is a family saga, it is heart-rending and it is an excellent example of "man's inhumanity to man."