i libri

Elsa Morante

La canzone degli F.P. e

degli I.M. in tre parti

The song of the H.F. and

of the U.M. in three parts


Translated by

Mariangela Palladino

and Patrick Hart


ISBN 88-7536-123-1

pp. 62

cm 13x20,5

€ 11,00 - £ 7,50 - $ 15,00


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Gli autori    Authors


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.


I testi          Text

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 philosophers).
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.



* * *


Explanatory Introduction

    ?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
and religion.
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 alive,
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 convents
                                                                           /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
the others.
?But, in practice, what’s the sign by which we can identify on sight
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 having this!!
!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!

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