Giano and Clarissa are the image of Rome’s intellectual and cultural elite. Married for over twenty years, they are wealthy, childless, in love, and unfaithful. He is an architect and a professor of urban planning who wants to restore Rome’s cityscape, deconstructing modern buildings and entire neighborhoods from the city’s ugly economic boom. She is an attractive forty-something, who enjoys wandering the streets of Rome with no precise destination and an eye out for adventure. But the tenuous balance of their mutual infidelities and hypocrisies is challenged by events outside their control, and the dissolution of this modern marriage mirrors that of the city they both love and hate.
Written as a novel within a novel, a meta-fiction of exchange between the two characters’ points of view, this book is direct, humorous and full of surprises. In the drama of its protagonists, it captures an entire microcosm of modern Rome, a world that is deceptively calm and only apparently in order. As the characters criss-cross the historical center, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and the adjacent streets, Malerba exposes the crises that threaten to tear both them and us apart — from climate change to the absence of faith or the security of family, from an obsession with casual (even pathological) sex to the worship of a hyper-technological modernity.
Malerba also criss-crosses the porous boundary between fiction and reality. What it would take to restore their marriage — and their narratives — to their “imperfect balance” might be nothing less than an “architectural” re-ordering of superhuman capacities. And so, too, might that be the only salvation for the ravages of modern Rome.
"Roman Ghosts" ("Fantasmi Romani"), Malerba’s last novel, was published in 2006. As Rebecca West writes in her introduction to this volume, “To enter [Malerba’s world] in this fine translation is to discover just how engaging an author Luigi Malerba is.”
About the Author
His move to Rome in 1950 brought him into artistic, literary and cinematic circles that would significantly influence his work. After going into advertising and then scriptwriting for films, he began writing fiction in the 1960s.
Malerba went on to become a member of Gruppo '63 and co-founder of the Cooperativa Scrittori (Writers' Cooperative). He was also involved in literary journals and consistently contributed to newspapers. Malerba was the author of over thirty novels, short-story collections, criticism and travel books, over a dozen children's books, and more than ten screenplays.
His work earned the attention of the best critics in Italy and won many prizes: the Mondello in 1987, the Grinzane Cavour Prize in 1989, the Flaiano Prize in 1990, the Viareggio in 1992, the Premio Brancati in 1979, the Premio Feronia in 1992. For "Salto mortale," in 1970, he was awarded the first Médici Prix Étranger given by France to a non-French writer.
Miriam Aloisio currently teaches Spanish at the University of Colorado Boulder. After finishing her BA in Interpretation and Translation of English and German from the University of Milan, Aloisio earned an MA in Italian Studies from the University of Virginia and a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from the University of Chicago with a dissertation on environmental commitment in Luigi Malerba's writing. Her areas of research and teaching include the twentieth- and twenty-first-century novel with a particular focus on postmodern novels, cinematic adaptation, the avant-garde, culture and language. She has collaborated on translations of several literary texts, and she has published and presented on the work of Alessandro Manzoni, Italo Svevo, Elsa Morante, Giorgio Manganelli, Italo Calvino and Luigi Malerba, among others.
Michael Subialka is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Italian at the University of California, Davis. He taught previously at St. Hugh's College, University of Oxford, where he was the Powys Roberts Research Fellow in European Literature, and at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. A scholar of European modernism working at the intersection of literature and philosophy, he has also translated work by Italian authors including Luigi Pirandello, Benedetto Croce, and Bertrando Spaventa. He currently serves as editor of "PSA," the journal of the Pirandello Society of America.
Table of Contents
Works of Luigi Malerba