In striving to be darkly humorous, this novel, about the invasion of Italy during World War II, finds the darkness repeatedly and the humor almost. I first read La pelle (The Skin, available in English translation) decades ago and was deeply affected by its merciless depiction of the misery. Curzio Malaparte and I have a strained and complicated relationship. The Skin is set in war-ruined Naples, in late , at a time when Allied.

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Indeed, the relationship between language and violence during wartime is perhaps the most malzparte subject matter for art in our time. Then tne as Arthur is taking another tour through the city in a horse driven carriage, his tour guide a different one points to a house and urges, “Look!

We’re told that one of the dead is Christ. Casertano looked at me and winked, “Wouldn’t you like a good oyster stew? Anyway, I think there is an argument to be made that Malaparte was being deliberately provocative.

Nothing romantic about this novel, the reader isn’t left with any illusions about the 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. You are commenting using your Twitter account.

Even you know it isn’t true that Christ saved the world once and for all. Did the Americans come as conquerors or liberators?

Curzio Malaparte stands alone, and has immortalized Naples. I love the title too.

Curzio Malaparte’s The Skin — Music & Literature

A member of the National Fascist Party before the war he was a firm supporter of Mussolini, but turned to the left after Italy was left ravaged by conflict.

Email required Address never made public. Notify me of new comments via email. View all 4 comments. Malaparte is a difficult chap to warm to.

Curzio Malaparte

It’s Malaparte’s bad conscience, he taunts, teases and titillates one minute, before punishing the reader with the vile and humiliating the next. Alla fine, credo che la fama di questo libro sia meritata, e per diverse ragioni.


Afterwards when everyone is eating stew at a field camp Malaparte looks distressed but remains silent. Nalaparte find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: There is a frolicsome banter used in the dialogue, and lots of joking around, yet death is everywhere, in the air, the sea, and on the ground right in front of them.

And simultaneously I felt that I had been oppressed, destroyed, shot, invaded and liberated. The sacred torch of Fascism is not spent!

As a result of this previous experience, I have long been putting off reading The Skineven though there is much about it that appeals to me, so much, in fact, that I actually bought it on the day of its release. His journey through the aftermath of the war is like a relentless acid trip.

The author, too, seems to take great joy in undercutting the political arguments of others, looking deeper for meaning within human nature, particularly in a scene in which he drives a group of Marxists to profound heights of irritation by suggesting that Shostakovich was a bourgeois composer.

He is a lap dog, sucking up to the Americans, to him they are Gods, while he thinks of himself as nothing more than a ‘filthy rotten Italian’. At first glance what this seems to suggest is that the author believes black people to be born slaves or easily enslaved due to their own stupidity. At the same time, there are unforgettable images here: I was also repulsed at his broad homophobic statements at various parts of the book.


In fact at this point the films of both Pier Paolo Pasolini and Alejandro Jodorowsky came to mind for the use of shocking and surreal imagery. Thanks for telling us about the problem. I had some trouble adjusting to the characters and the tone of the book, but as soon as I hit the fire-bombing of Hamburg and realized all the strange things he was up to, it was gold.

Probabimente tutte queste cose insieme. He narrates one scene where American soldiers are paying money to see a Neapolitan virgin. After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China inMalaparte became interested in the Maoist version of Communism but his journey to China was cut short by illness, and he was flown back to Rome.


I bow to him as a human being, to his humanity and genius and incredible humour and love. This brutal, beautifully written novel about the arrival of American troops in Naples inand their two-year occupation, is sad but also deeply, darkly comical.

That said, the premise of The Skin appeals to me, too. He considered Hitler to be a reactionary. What saves him, as an author, is his tremendous wit, his hugely impressive erudition and his ability to write so damn well. He was then assigned to cover World War II on the Eastern Front, from the German side, wearing his original regimental uniform of the Alpine regiment with its black plumes.

I will read this book again. 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. Yeah, it has long been a bugbear of mine, that failure to acknowledge that just because a country sees itself as a hero, and its actions are right or noble, it does not mean that the people on the other side have to see you that way.

books, yo.

It’s a warning that should be heeded. Like that poet, Malaparte’s desire is to examine assumptions regarding morality through the prism of the Grotesque; in the same manner as Baudelaire, Malaparte’s work is expressed through a thematic malaaprte of decay, death, and an almost Classical conception of sin. The Skin is full of memorable lines, and memorable scenes, and is worth reading for those things alone.

Dopo quei due anni immaginavo che avrei trovato guai, qualcosa c’era stato detto, ma non ero assolutamente preparato a vedere rhe Napoli del ‘ View all 13 comments.