The Infernal Urban Aesthetics of Louis-Ferdinand Céline & Curzio Malaparte

Andrea Capra
Home Organization

Department of French & Italian, Stanford University

Visiting Organization

Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Centre Censier, Paris

Andrea Capra

I intend to fill the lack of systematic studies concerning the similar trajectories, both literary and biographic, of the Italian author Curzio Malaparte and the French author Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Both decorated war veterans, Malaparte, an early supporter of the Fascist regime, and Céline, a virulent anti-Semite, are problematic figures: my project will explore the remarkable convergences of these two enfants terribles of the 20th century in order to challenge the prevailing critical view which has studied them either on their own or within a narrow national context. Against the idea that trauma condemns us to silence, I propose that the aesthetics of deformation present in their works are an attempt to give voice to the unbearable. Surreal spaces, horrified cities, decomposing matter, internal landscapes – these are all elements that can provide an aesthetic venue for the domestication of trauma. In Paris, I will do archival research that will allow to shed new light on the currently unclear level of acquaintance between Malaparte and Céline by examining their unpublished correspondence. Furthermore, I will work in the context of an interdisciplinary center on war and trauma where I will continue my exploration of the question: can the horror of war be domesticated? 

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