venerdì 1 ottobre 2010

Il rapporto Moravia/Morante: gli anni 40 (parte seconda)

Ancora sul rapporto Moravia/Morante: stavolta torno a William Weaver, traduttore eminente, che nell'introduzione al suo Open City: Seven Writers in Postwar Rome ricorda l'ambito intellettuale romano del dopoguerra, per creare una seconda intervista "virtuale."
(Silone, Ignazio, William Weaver, and Kristina Olson. Open City: Seven Writers in Postwar Rome. South Royalton, Vermont: Steerforth Press, 1999. Kristina e io eravamo studentesse alla Columbia University insieme.)

Weaver passò l'inverno del 1947-1948 in una pensione vicino all'appartamento di Alberto Moravia ed Elsa Morante; nel 1949 si sono traslocati da Via Sgambati dove Elsa scrisse Menzogna e sortilegio in Via dell'Oca, una piccola strada che lega la Piazza del Popolo al Tevere. (E Moravia anche acquistò per Elsa uno studio in via Archimede 161 ai Parioli.)

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Ricorda Weaver: "Though they had been married for over five years (and had been together for some time before the marriage), Alberto and Elsa had never had a proper house of their own. Now thanks to Alberto's foreign royalties and the film work he continued to do, they were able to fit out the house [Via dell'Oca 27] comfortably, with many sofas and easy chairs in white or cream slipcovers, with paintings on the walls (at this time largely by Moravia's sister Adriana Pincherle, later by Elsa's tragic infatuation Bill Morrow), and with a varying number of Siamese cats, long ruled over by the imperious Gatto Tit. For Elsa, who had grown up in grimly respectable poverty, the Via dell'Oca house represented luxury; and, to crown this elegance, she engaged a cook. Thus — probably for the first time in her life — she gave dinner parties."

Non mi sorprende che Weaver sappia anche il nome del suo gatto, fatto che potrebbe sembrare estraneo o dimenticabile; come ho già scritto qui, a Morante piacevano moltissimo i gatti e non avrei dubitato che tutti i suoi amici avessero saputo i nomi dei i suoi gatti preferiti. E il nome "Tit" mi colpisce anche perchè nel suo Le bellissime avventure di Caterì dalla trecciolina c'è un personaggio chiamato Tit, amico-eroe della protagonista Caterì. Adesso sembra d'esser un nome preso da un gatto reale!

E Weaver confirma che, come nell'intervista con Enzo Siciliano, Moravia parlava della ex-moglie sempre in modo gentile; e Weaver ci offre un ritratto onesto della Morante come tumultuosa e difficile:

"Speaking of Elsa once, some time after her death, Moravia — who continued to refer to her with affection and understanding long after their separation— said, 'Elsa was profoundly ingiusta.' 'Unfair' is too mild a translation, and 'unjust' sounds too juridical. What Moravia meant, I think, was 'Elsa liked to deal low blows.' And I have to agree with him. She could also be impulsive, and the blows could hit the innocent. To make matters worse, Elsa — at least, in certain frequent moods — loved to quarrel, and to cast blame, almost always on Alberto."

A questo ritratto della coppia Weaver aggiunge che Morante aveva un altro aspetto più dolce, più innocente: "There was this childish side of Elsa, rarely allowed to shine forth, yet irresistible when given free rein. The child-Elsa could also be naughty; and like other naughty children, she liked to cause discomfiture..."

A me piace di più questo ricordo di Weaver, che descrive benissimo non solo Morante stessa ma anche la sua passione per Menzogna e sortilegio, il suo primo romanzo.

"When I first met Elsa I knew her simply as Moravia's wife (fortunately she was unaware of this ignorance). Someone did tell me then, I believe, that she was herself a writer. But I hadn't read a word of hers. Then, during that first year in Rome, her great, vast first novel appeared: Menzogna e sortilegio (much later it came out in a heavily-cut English version, unhappily entitled House of Liars). I bought the thick Einaudi volume, but — as my Italian was still a work in progress — I set it aside, waiting until I could summon the nerve to tackle those densely printed pages. Still, since it was much discussed at the Moravia dinner table, I felt it might be a good idea to let her know that I at least owned a copy. So one night I took it along to dinner and asked her to sign it for me. To be on the safe side — I knew her diabolical instinct for vulnerable spots — I confessed at once that I hadn't yet read it.
And I braced myself for her ire. Of course, Elsa surprised me.
"Oh, how I envy you!" she said with immediate, genuine enthusiasm. "How I wish I could read my book with a fresh mind! What a wonderful experience you have in store for you! You're really lucky!" Her love for her book was, in its way, also childish, innocent, pure and complete. Later, as I gradually learned the story of how that book was written, and how she risked her life to rescue the manuscript from Nazi-occupied Rome, I better understood the way Menzogna e sortilegio was her beloved first-born. True, she loved her other books possessively, too (creating problems for her translator, as I was to discover when she chose me to turn La storia into English); but Menzogna e sortilegio occupied a unique place in her life, and today, if I pick it up and leaf through it, I feel her passion — and sense of ownership — in its pages."

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