Public and Private Spaces in Modern Italian Culture
Edited By Simona Storchi
PART I. HOMES AND THE PUBLIC SPHERE
PART I HOMES AND THE PUBLIC SPHERE 23 CHAPTER 1 Italian Writers’ Houses and the Shift from Private to Public Harald HENDRIX University of Utrecht From the time of its building in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Cur- zio Malaparte’s spectacular house on Capri (fig. 1) has been widely hailed as one of the most exquisite products of Italian modernist culture, thus attracting the attention of film directors – in 1963 Godard used it extensively for his Le Mépris – and of fashion designers like Karl Lagerfeld whose 1998 book on Casa Malaparte pays tribute to the overwhelming sense of creativity the building inspires. Figure 1. Casa Malaparte, Capri (photo: Author’s own) Located on an almost inaccessible cliff overlooking the deep blue sea, it certainly is one of those spaces that suggest meaning – what Beyond the Piazza 24 Gaston Bachelard has coined an “espace saisi par l’imagination” (17), and is as such typical of the architectural species of the writer’s house that by its nature entails the production and expression of meaning (Hendrix, Writers’ Houses). In fact, Malaparte did not hesitate to pro- grammatically baptise his self-designed home “casa come me”, while provocatively stating that in none of his books he had shown his inner self better than in this building: The day I decided to build a house I didn’t know I would draw a portrait of myself. It is better than all my literary ones. From all the autobiographical elements in every writer’s work it is easy to...
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