Virtual Event: Curzio Malaparte's "Diary of a Foreigner in Paris," with Gary Indiana and Edwin Frank

May 21, 2020, 7:30 PM

Join us for a virtual conversation around Curzio Malaparte's Diary of a Foreigner in Paris, with author Gary Indiana and NYRB Classics editor Edwin Frank. Register here!

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Experience postwar Europe through the diary of a fascinating and witty twentieth-century writer and artist. Recording his travels in France and Switzerland, Curzio Malaparte encounters famous figures such as Cocteau and Camus and captures the fraught, restless spirit of Paris after the trauma of war.

In 1947 Curzio Malaparte returned to Paris for the first time in fourteen years. In between, he had been condemned by Mussolini to five years in exile and, on release, repeatedly imprisoned. In his intervals of freedom, he had been dispatched as a journalist to the Eastern Front, and though many of his reports from the bloodlands of Poland and Ukraine were censored, his experiences there became the basis for his unclassifiable postwar masterpiece and international bestseller, Kaputt. Now, returning to the one country that had always treated him well, the one country he had always loved, he was something of a star, albeit one that shines with a dusky and disturbing light. 

The journal he kept while in Paris records a range of meetings with remarkable people—Jean Cocteau and a dourly unwelcoming Albert Camus among them—and is full of Malaparte’s characteristically barbed reflections on the temper of the time. It is a perfect model of ambiguous reserve as well as humorous self-exposure. There is, for example, Malaparte’s curious custom of sitting out at night and barking along with the neighborhood dogs—dogs, after all, were his only friends when in exile. The French find it puzzling, to say the least; when it comes to Switzerland, it is grounds for prosecution!

CURZIO MALAPARTE (pseudonym of Kurt Eric Suckert, 1898-1957) was born in Prato, Italy, and served in World War I. An early supporter of the Italian Fascist movement and a prolific journalist, Malaparte soon established himself as an outspoken public figure. In 1931 he incurred Mussolini's displeasure by publishing a how-to manual entitled Technique of the Coup-d'Etat, which led to his arrest and a brief term in prison. During World War II Malaparte worked as a correspondent, for much of the time on the eastern front, and this experience provided the basis for his two most famous books, Kaputt (1944) and The Skin (1949), both available as NYRB Classics. His political sympathies veered to the left after the war. He continued to write, while also involving himself in the theater and the cinema.

Described by Christian Lorentzen of the London Review fo Books as one of the most brilliant critics in America today, GARY INDIANA is the author of seven novels, including ResentmentThree-Month FeverRent Boy, and Horse Crazy. His nonfiction books include Let It BleedThe Schwarzenegger Syndrome, and Utopia's DebrisI Can Give You Anything But Love, his first (and only) memoir, was published recently.

EDWIN FRANK was born in Boulder, Colorado, and educated at Harvard College and Columbia University. He is the author of Snake Train: Poems 1984–2013 and the editorial director of the NYRB Classics series.