A key figure of the Italian postwar renaissance,
one-time wife of Alberto Moravia, and close collaborator with Pier
Paolo Pasolini, Elsa Morante is almost as well known in Italy for her
poetry as for her fiction. In the English-speaking world, however,
while her novels have been translated and published by the likes of
Picador and Penguin, her poetry is practically unknown. Il
mondo salvato dai ragazzini, described by Pasolini as
‘a political manifesto written with the grace of a
fairytale’, was first published, by what the philosopher
Giorgio Agamben characterises as ‘a kind of ironic historical
cipher,’ in May 1968. Morante herself identified her
book’s ‘liberatory theme’ with the
‘great youth movement against the funereal machinations of
the organised contemporary world’ which exploded across
Europe that year, characterising it as the product of an
‘analogous revolt, desperate and unstoppable,’
against an adult world of death and alienation. Yet Morante was in her
mid-fifties when she wrote it, and its anarchic, millenarian tone
results from a coincidence of these wider social and political
upheavals with an equally profound upheaval in Morante’s own
life and thinking. Often described as ‘a central moment in
Morante’s poetics,’ it marks ‘the
fundamental turning point in her vision of the world and of the role
and destination of literature’.
MARIANGELA PALLADINO graduated
from the University 'L'Orientale' in Naples with a degree in modern
languages. She is currently completing a PhD on postcolonial literature
at the University of Strathclyde where she teaches English Literature.
She also teaches Comparative Literature and Italian Studies at the
University of Glasgow. She is the editor of Ecloga, an English Studies
journal and the author of several articles on postcolonial fiction.
PATRICK HART graduated from the
University of Manchester with a degree in Philosophy and English
Literature, and holds Masters degrees from the University of London and
from the Scottish Institute of Northern Renaissance Studies. He has
published articles on Renaissance literature and on Giambattista Vico.
His poetry has been published in journals in the UK and the USA.
What is it exactly La canzone
degli F.P. e degli I.M. in tre parti?
It's an autobiography. It's a memorial. It's a manifesto. It's a dance.
It's a tragedy. It's a comedy. It's a madrigal. It's a documentary, in
colour. It's a comic. It's a magic key.
It's a socio-philosophical system (naturally involved in presentday
Reality, dominated by atomic idols and by the conflicts between the
first, the second and the third world; to which is added the memory of
the other world: a memory that is habitually eradicated by contemporary
Morante's is a Blakean vision in which innocence struggles to survive
the oppressions of experience, revised for the age of the
'scientific-industrial dictatorship,' of the mass media and Auschwitz.
The F.P., the Felici Pochi or Happy Few, are the 'salt of the earth',
its true revolutionaries. Their courage, their fortunate tragedy, lies
in their refusal or their inability to escape from a true perception of
reality into the slavery of the unreal.
* * *
?What does H.F. stand
for? It’s an abbreviation
for Happy Few.
?And who are the Happy Few? Explaining
it’s not easy,
for the Happy Few can’t be described.
Whilst few in number
they come from every race sex & nation
epoch age society status
From the rich & from the poor
(but, if born poor, they usually stay that way,
and, if born rich, soon end up poor)
from the young & the old (yet
it’s seldom they get here in time to get old)
from the beautiful and from the ugly (although it’s true that,
even when they’re vulgarly regarded as ugly,
in REALITY they’re beautiful; but REALITY
is rarely visible….
Well then. Impartially, to be fair,
we’ll certify here, in good faith,
that the H. F., all of them, are always
even if, for the most part, people can’t see it).
Anyway, it’ll do for the present
explanatory preamble to note
that amongst their many & various forms there are
the exalted and the notorious, the anonymous and the hidden
(although, in the case of the famous, Celebrity doesn’t
generally show any great hurry to embrace them while they’re
taking greater pleasure in seizing them in its posthumous grip,
once they’re already
?And where are they found, as a
rule? There’s no rule.
In truth, Biology hasn’t yet discovered
their true natural element.
They’re found in the Himalayas and on the sea, in the city
and in the
/desert, in the metropolis and in the suburbs
in alleyways and on motorways
maybe even on the moons and the remoter planets
& even – even in government departments –
remember Henri Beyle –
never though in the highest levels of bureaucracy
or the various positions of official authority
to which they’ve always suffered a serious allergy.
You can meet them
at the university the pub in the factory in prison in brothels in
/at the theatre the dance the café
amongst the wise and the illiterate in the Ghettoes in the Kasbah in
/the underground on a jet
at the old folks’ home at the hospital for the mad
They spring up in the least hospitable climes
and hide themselves where you least expect them.
As a matter of fact the H.F. are
fatal accidents of Perpetual Motion
originary seeds of the Cosmos, flying between fantastic poles, borne on
the winds’ whim,
budding in every terrain.
Much more often, though, they come back
on certain bearings (barbaric) and to obscure places (depressed)
where they don’t have the bad habit of assassinating prophets
nor of exterminating
?& what does U.M.
mean? We’re dealing here too,
of course, with an abbreviation
for Unhappy Many.
?& who are the Unhappy Many? They’re ALL
?But, in practice, what’s the sign by which we can identify
that degenerate minority amongst this normal majority?
It’s clear that here the real answer
should be: HAPPINESS. However, (see above)
often doesn’t seem to be visible to everyday folk
with the rheum of the multitudinous
fumes of irreality clouding their eyes. & so the saying goes:
“There’s no such thing as happiness”.
IRREALITY is the opium of the people…and
for a wholesale detoxification
the cure is an exercise of heroic hardship…
!!Ah, but this can’t be good for us! We’re not
!but, now, please furnish us immediately,
with the name surname and address
of some genuine authenticated representative H.F.
so that we can keep a little file on them here ready
without too much work and hassle!