Curzio Malaparte, trans. from the Italian by David Moore. New York Review Books, $ trade paper (p) ISBN Curzio Malaparte () To win a war – everyone can do that, but not everyone is capable of losing one. I first read La pelle (The Skin, available in English translation) decades ago and was deeply affected by its merciless depiction of the misery.

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You’ve no idea what a man will do, what deeds of heroism and infamy he can accomplish, to save his skin. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Non uno scrittore impegnato.

books, yo.

The Skin, by Curzio Malaparte. And it is not paid in gold, nor in blood, nor in the most noble sacrifices, but in cowardice, in prostitution, in treachery, and in everything that is rotten in the human soul.

There is an intriguing question throughout the book whether Naples was invaded or liberated by the American army. The novel still reads like a noble attempt to render an ignoble moment without pity.

Troubled by this the General at least offers money for a decent burial. They are no more simple victims than the latter are simple victors. Hitler blamed communism on the Jews; Malaparte blames it on homosexuals.

It is only in recent years that you see books published that allow for some occasional comic remark in a WW-II setting.

The Skin by Curzio Malaparte

Malaparte even implies that he and the people skln Naples feel sorry for the American conquerors and that they themselves have the preferable position of being conquered. Mesmerizing reading and an old cliche I know but it is difficult to put down once started.

That scenes of life and death can prove so touching and yet so comic, marks the genius in this work.


Among modernist writers, Malaparte is one of the more obscure but also one of the very best of his generation. Prefaced by a dedication to “the honorable American soldiers who were my comrades-in-arms Burns skun an upper middle class American idealist, so his primary reactions to what he saw in North Africa and Italy were outrage, disgust and disillusionment.

View all 4 comments. Malaparte, malapqrte his real life war experiences, seemed to be sliding back and forth between an ironical tone, and an almost innocent sincerity. I think so, and one can also think of the character Curzio Malaparte–we’re told it’s a pseudonym chosen because it’s the opposite of Bonaparte–as a kind of Virgil who leads several American liberators through the Italian campaign.


Amazon Rapids Fun stories for kids on the go. I will read this book again.

Accordingly, the novel’s narrator details the horrors he and the American soldiers he has befriended at the end of the war witness or have heard about: Malaparte was twenty years older he had served with distinction in WW I and more experienced, not to mention Italian and thus not quite so laden down with illusions. Women and children are for sale and there is but one virgin left in Naples—a young girl whose family offers her for display to American servicemen. Some passages you will not be able to unread.

This book was the origin of his downfall inside the National Fascist Party. Nothing romantic about this novel, the reader isn’t left with any illusions about the horror of war. All of Europe is a conflagration of brutality which settles uneasily into a plague of peace and occupation.

The sometime Fascist and ever-resourceful Curzio Malaparte is working with the Americans as a liaison officer. And it’s a novel drenched in symbolism and satire which more than bites, it devours. Malaparte himself appears as our guide through such chaos: Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. Not your standard novel at all. It’s cynical, tragic,and horrifying, a deeply uncomfortable and emotive read at times.


Europe may be littered with dead but the dead are also leaving to sail back to America to resume their rich, happy, and free lives, away from the poor dead of Europe. What do you expect to find in London, Paris, Vienna?

It dwarfs Henry Miller, whom I think would readily acknowledge this fact. His ignorance becomes wisdom. You are commenting using your WordPress.

The scenes grow worse and worse, as Malaparte seemingly draws images from a sort of Divine Comedy come xurzio life. There’s a problem loading this menu right now. However that said, there are times where I felt the point had been made and was being beaten to death in certain passages.

It is so appropriate in that we have only our own skin to live in. The most mortal thing in the world! Notify me of new comments via email. Eerie parallels with real events sees a girl shaped fish, named “The Siren”, taken from the local aquarium to be served to American officers, only to invoke the disgust of a rather prudish guest, whilst the Italian waiters serve up Spam with hilarious contempt.

I’m slowly making my way through the New York Review Books Classics list and this has been the most intense, compelling and thought provoking novel so far.

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Did you really need our help to drive out the Germans? It’s not a war novel however, but rather a novel about morality. Explore the Home Gift Guide. I am deeply suspicious of facebook, of Goodreads and of networks of any sort. Malaparte seems to ask us.