Marta Morazzoni

Biography

Marta Morazzoni
Marta Morazzoni

Marta Morazzoni is not only an author of novels, essays and short stories, but also a theatre critic and literary translator, having translated the works of Edith Wharton, Olaf Olafsson and Eran Kroband among others. She works as a teacher of literature in high school in Gallarate.

Morazzoni was born in 1950. Having defended her MA thesis on the Eskimos living in Canada and Greenland, she graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy in the University of Milan with a degree in cultural anthropology. It may be assumed that her interest in the people of the north triggered her preference for the white light, cool space and restrained static scenery frequently visible in her books.

A literary vocation, which Morazzoni felt just after her studies, resulted in a few short stories which she sent to the literary critic Pietro Citati in 1983. In 1986, thanks to Citati and his enthusiastic review, the publishing house Longanesi released Morazzonni’s first collection called La ragazza col turbante. The book, translated into nine languages and awarded the Premio Racalmare Leonardo Sciascia prize the following year , became a huge success. The collection comprises five literary fantasies, of which the protagonists are well-known artists or rulers, and explores the fate of famous pieces of art; thus, one may read about Mozart and Constance, Lorenzo da Ponte, the Emperor Charles V, or Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. One thread connecting these texts is the brutality which prevails in the relationships between these characters. Morazzoni skillfully creates the atmosphere of suspense, secrecy, danger and the expectation of something that does not always happen.

The next decade was a prolific and successful period for Morazzoni. She wrote four novels, three of which were awarded particular prizes. The first novel, L’invenzione della verità was published in 1988 and awarded the Premio Campiello. Casa materna, winner of Premio Selezione Campiello was published in 1992. In 1996, the author published the next novel, L’estuario, and one year later, Il caso Courrier, which was again awarded the Premio Campiello.

At the turn of the century, Morazzoni briefly moved away from writing dominated by the past and, in 2002, published a disturbing novel, Una lezione di stile, set in modern England. She returned to the past, however, and great historic figures in 2005, in a narrative set in the 18th century, Un incontro inatteso per il consigliere Goethe. This period also allowed her to test her strengths in other literary genres. In 2006, she published an artistic and literary guide to Amsterdam, La città del desiderio, Amsterdam. Here, the lover of Vermeer and Flemish culture, shows the reader around the city with passion and lyricism. Following this in 2008, Morazzoni wrote a kind of literary autobiography, or a personal guide to literature entitled Trentasette libri e un cane. In the same year, she published a collection of lectures on her favourite and most valued authors: Proust, Musil, Poe and Goethe. She returned to narratives and historic figures in her last two novels, the protagonists of which were unusual, brave and emblematic women. One of them, unknown though reported in historical chronicles, was a young princess forced to enter a convent, whose story is told in the novel La nota segreta (2010). With an amazing talent for singing, Paola Pietra, an extremely strong, uncompromising woman open to various forms of life stood up against the system. In her last book Il fuoco di Jeanne (2014), Morazzoni tried to approach the story from girlhood to adulthood of a protagonist named Jeanne D’Arc, modelled on Joan of Arc. Rather than approach her protagonist as symbol and archetype, Morazzoni reconstructs the figure buried under the layers of myth and legend and creates a modern historical novel.

The books of Marta Morazzoni entrance through delicately built emotion, perfect language, sophisticated surroundings, and masterful images which draw in the reader. The beautiful visual quality of her prose and its intense yet ambiguous emotion determine its power and peculiarity. The author sensitively brings the reader into remote corners of time and space, into places and pasts that are at once known and unknown, and renders experiences almost real and tangible. Morazzoni’s prose may be perfectly described by the oxymoron ‘invented truth’. The one variable in the evolution of this author’s writing is her style, its initial sophisticated elegance, linearity and cool moderation being gradually replaced by sensuality and dynamism.

Bibliography

Novels

L'invenzione della verità (Milan: Longanesi, 1988)

Casa materna (Milan: Longanesi, 1992)

L'estuario (Milan: Longanesi, 1996)

Il caso Courrier (Milan: Longanesi, 1997)

Una lezione di stile (Milan: Longanesi, 2002)

Lezioni svizzere (Milan: La Vita Felice, 2003)

Trentasette libri e un cane (Naples: Filema, 2008)

La nota segreta (Milan: Longanesi, 2010)

Il fuoco di Jeanne (Parma: Guanda, 2014)

Short Stories

La ragazza col turbante (Milan: Longanesi, 1986)

Un incontro inatteso per il consigliere Goethe (Milan: Longanesi, 2005)

‘L’azzurro e il carbone’ in Anna Felder, Marta Morazzoni, and Laura Pariani, La luce del mondo. Tre scrittrici nei Grigioni (Locarno: Dadò, 2005, pp. 39-58 [ later published as ‘Un incontro inatteso per il consigliere Goethe’])

Other Works

‘Soggiorno a Poschiavo’ in Anna Felder, Marta Morazzoni, and Laura Pariani, La luce del mondo. Tre scrittrici nei Grigioni ([diary of Morazzoni’s stay in the Swiss Canton of the Grisons], Locarno: Dadò, 2005, pp. 59-86)

La città del desiderio, Amsterdam ([an author’s guide to Amsterdam], Parma: Guanda, 2006)

Trentasette libri e un cane ([literary autobiography]), Milan: Longanesi 2008

English Translations of Morazzoni’s Work

Girl in a Turban [Translation of La ragazza col turbante by Patrick Creagh] (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988)

The Invention of Truth [Translation of L’invenzione della verità by M.J. Fitzgerald] (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993)

His Mother’s House [Translation of Casa materna by Emma Rose] (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1995)

The Alphonse Courrier Affair [Translation of Il caso Courrier by Emma Rose] (London: Harvill Press, 2000)

The Secret Note [Translation of La nota segreta by Cristina Viti] (London: Maclehose Press, 2017)

Croatian Translations of Morazzoni’s Work

Slučaj Courrier [Translation of Il caso Courrier by Mihaela Vekarić] (Zagreb: Znanje, 2004)

Dutch Translations of Morazzoni’s Work

Het meisje met de parel [Translation of La ragazza col turbante by Joost Albers en Frans Denissen] (Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 1987)

De zaak Courrier [Translation of Il caso Courrier by Aafke van der Made] (Amsterdam: Serena Libri, 1997)

Stad Van Het Verlangen Amsterdam [Translation of La città del desiderio, Amsterdam by Els van der Pluijm] (Amsterdam: Serena Libri, 2003)

French Translations of Morazzoni’s work

La Jeune Fille au turban, [Translation of La ragazza col turbante by Jean-Paul Manganaro] (Paris: POL, 1988)

Une Leçon de style [Translation of Una lezione di stile by Eva Cantavenera] (Paris: Éditions de L’Herne, 2005)

L’Affaire Alphonse Courrier [Translation of Il caso Courrier by Marguerite Pozzoli] (Arles: Actes Sud, coll. ‘Lettres italiennes’, 2008)

L’Invention de la vérité [Translation of L'invenzione della verità by Marguerite Pozzoli] (Arles: Actes Sud, coll. ‘Lettres italiennes’, 2009)

La Note secrète [Translation of La nota segreta by Marguerite Pozzoli] (Arles: Actes Sud, coll. ‘Lettres italiennes’, 2012)

Le Feu de Jeanne [Translation of Il fuoco di Jeanne by Marguerite Pozzoli] (Arles: Actes Sud, coll. ‘Lettres italiennes’, 2015)

German Translations of Morazzoni’s Work

Das Mädchen mit dem Turban [Translation of La ragazza col turbante by Herbert Schlüter] (Munich: Piper, 1988).

Die Erfindung der Wahrheit [Translation of L’invenzione della verità by Hartmut Scheible] (Munich: Piper, 1991)

Russian Translations of Morazzoni’s Work

Белая дверь [Translation of the short story ‘Porta bianca’ by Elena Molochkovskaia in the collection Девушка в тюрбане. (Сборник современной итальянской прозы)] (Moscow: RADUGA, 1991)

Девушка в тюрбане [Translation of the short story ‘La ragazza col turbante’ by Elena Molochkovskaia in the collection Девушка в тюрбане. (Сборник современной итальянской прозы)] (Moscow: RADUGA, 1991)

Spanish Translations of Morazzoni’s Work

La joven de la perla [Translation of La ragazza col turbante by Ricardo Pochtar] (Barcelona: Tusqquets Editores, 1988)

Criticism

Calcagno, Giorgio: ‘L’estuario di Marta Morazzoni’, in Vent’anni di narrativa femminile in Italia, ed. by Francesco De Nicola and Pier Antonio Zannoni (Venice: Marsilio, 2005, pp. 60-61)

Castagnola, Raffaele: ‘Storie nordiche per il nuovo millennio’ in Il mito e la rappresentazione del Nord nella tradizione letteraria: Atti del convegno di Padova, 23-25 ottobre 2006 (Rome: Salerno, 2008, pp. 355-77)

Cutrufelli, Maria Rosa: Scritture, scrittrici (Milan: Longanesi, 1988, p. 23)

De Giovanni, Neria: Carta di donna: narratrici italiane del ‘900 (Turin: Società Editrice Internazionale, 1996, pp. 7-8 and 14-15)

De Michelis, Cesare G.: ‘Marta Morazzoni’, in Fiori di carta. La nuova narrativa italiana degli anni Ottanta by Cesare G. De Michelis (Milan: Bompiani, 1990, pp. 153-56)

Drzewiecka, Agnieszka: ‘Między literaturą a sztuką: o pisarstwie Marty Morazzoni’ in Literatura włoska w toku (Wroclaw: Ossolineum, 2006, pp. 167-80)

Golino, Enzo: ‘Marta Morazzoni: L’invenzione della verità’ in Sottotiro, 48 stroncature (Lecce: Manni, 2002, pp. 17-20)

Guacci, Rosaria: ‘Due. Coppie. Idillio e sopraffazione. Identici e contrari’ in Il pozzo segreto. Cinquanta scrittrici italiane, ed. by Maria Rosa Cutrufelli, Rosaria Guacci, and Marisa Rusconi (Florence: Giunti, 1993, pp. 277-78)

Heyer-Caput, Margherita: ‘Arte e storia come “poiesis” al femminile ne L’invenzione della verità di Marta Morazzoni’ (Italian Culture, 19.1, 2001, pp. 67-84)

─: ‘Il concetto di “verità” nella narrazione “al passato” di Marta Morazzoni’ (Italica, 79, 2002, pp. 62-79)

Lazzaro-Weis, Carol: From Margins to Mainstream: Feminism and Fictional Modes in Italian Women’s Writings (1969-1992) (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993, pp. 123, 138-39, 141-43, 150)

Manacorda, Giuliano: ‘Il caso Courrier di Marta Morazzoni’ in Vent’anni di narrativa femminile in Italia, ed. by Francesco De Nicola and Pier Antonio Zannoni (Venice: Marsilio, 2005, pp. 65-66)

Mazza, Antonia: ‘La ragazza col turbante’ (Letture, 41.431, November 1986, pp. 807-08)

Pierangeli, Fabio: ‘Una “luce particolare, non so come descriverla…”’ in Città, luoghi, viaggi della letteratura contemporanea (Rome: Edizioni Nuova Cultura, 2006, pp. 103-05)

Rigobello, Giuliana: ‘Marta Morazzoni ovvero la scrittura come pittura e come musica’ (Coscienza, 4, 1993, pp. 16-19)

Sanguinetti Katz, Giuliana: ‘Marta Morazzoni e la ricerca della libertà’ (Quaderni d’Italianistica, 16.2, 1995, pp. 295-307) 

Serkowska, Hanna: ‘Un’interpretazione de L’invenzione della verità di M. Morazzoni come esperienza di rilettura (Kwartalnik Neofilologiczny, 48, 2001-4, 2002, pp. 289-96)

Tani, Stefano: ‘Manierismo e microstoria: Morazzoni e Volpi’ in Il romanzo di ritorno. Dal romanzo medio degli anni sessan­ta alla giovane narrativa degli anni ottanta (Milan: Mursia, 1990, pp. 183-86)

Urgnani, Elena: ‘Il preziosismo rarefatto di Marta Morazzoni’ (NEMLA, 16, 1992, pp. 85-98)

Wilson, Rita: ‘Identità rivelate: Le speculazioni narrative di Marta Morazzoni e Francesca Duranti’ (Studi di Italianistica nell’Africa Australe/Italian Studies in Southern Africa, 7.2, 1994, pp. 50-68)

Interviews

‘Intervista a Marta Morazzoni’, Amicidellascala, 29 January 2014, available online at http://blog.amicidellascala.it/intervista-marta-morazzoni/

Hopkinson, Amanda: ‘From the Blackboard to the Page. Novelist Marta Morazzoni Tells Amanda Hopkinson about Teaching’s Perils’, The Guardian, 13 October 2001, available online at https://www.theguardian.com/books/2001/oct/13/fiction1

‘Marta Morazzoni. Il caso Courrier: un romanzo scritto per divertimento’, 19 September 1997, available online at http://www.wuz.it/archivio/cafeletterario.it/interviste/morazzon.html

Stoppini, Alessandra: ‘Storia della Contessa Paola. Intervista a Marta Morazzoni’, Il Recensore.com, 27 April 2010, available online at http://www.ilrecensore.com/wp2/2010/04/storia-della-contessa-paola-intervista-a-marta-morazzoni/

Radio Interviews

Faller, Sabrina: ‘Domani è un altro giorno. Ospite: Marta Morazzoni’, Domani è un altro giorno, 13 February, 2015, available online at http://www.rsi.ch/rete-due/programmi/cultura/domani-e-un-altro-giorno/Ospite-Marta-Morazzoni-3720910.html

Video Interviews

‘Marta Morazzoni: la scrittura come certezza’, Eyes Upon, 14 November 2014, available online at http://bloglab.festivalglocal.it/eyesupon/2014/11/14/marta-morazzoni-la-scrittura-come-certezza/

Compiled by Barbara Kornacka (Poznan)