Literature

A Company of Chameleons

When I was teaching in Melbourne, Curzio Malaparte’s novel The Skin was one of the first things to interest me in contemporary Italy. I sympathised with the swashbuckling author who, despite being an Italian liaison officer with the Allies, criticised the Americans. He seemed a free spirit. But on arrival in Naples, where the novel was set, I found that some Neapolitans loathed Malaparte. For them he had taken advantage of the city when it was at its lowest ebb. The Neapolitan novelist and critic Raffaele La Capria accused him of exaggerations, as in the scene of a cooked siren.…

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