Curzio Malaparte in visit to Axel Munthe in Capri


André J. Fabre                    June 2013 

Curzio Malaparte, writer, journalist and war correspondent had a Villa in Capri at Cape Masullo., a strange building, red as a lobster, getting out cooked, from the burning sea, star of a a famous film Godard film, "Contempt"

The Villa was close to the celebrated house of Axel Munthe, Villa  San Michele

In autumn 1942, Malaparte visited his neighbor before his departure  for Finland as a war correspondent. The scene is reported in Malaparte's book "Kaputt " : "At Capri, five or six months ago, on the eve of my departure for Finland, I climbed the tower Materita to greet Axel Munthe. He was   waiting for me in the shadow of his  dear cypresses; standing quite right, as a tree,  locked in his old greenish coat. He had had a very sad autumn, imprisoned in his furious melancholy, prisoner in the gaunt tower of his Villa,  eroded as an old bone by the sharp teeth of the wind blowing from Ischia, and the north wind, which carries up to Capri the acrid sulfur scent of the Vesuvius,. among his  fake antique paintings, his Antique statues and his XVth century wood Madonnas which seemed carved in a fake  Louis XV chair. That day Munthe looked quiet and serene. At some point, he began to talk about the birds of Capri :  every evening at sunset, he gets off his tower, walks slowly and carefully among the trees of his park, the old coat green on the back, his ugly hat on his bushy hair, his eyes hidden by dark sunglasses - until he comes to a place where the trees are scattered and let in the grass a mirror image of the sky. He stops right there, thin, gaunt, like an old trunk, dried by sun, frost and storms, with a happy laugh nestled in his beard, as an old Faun,  and he stays there, waiting. for his dear birds.  They fly to him by flocks, tweeting their love, landing on his shoulders, his arms, on his hat, pecking his nose, his lips and his ears. Munthe stays motionless, talking  with them in the sweet dialect of Capri, until the sun goes down, immersed in the green and blue sea. Then,  the birds fly to their nest, all together, with a nice rolling cries to tell him goofnight. "

However, one can that the same scene is narrated by Malaparte with a somewhat different context in another of his books, "The Skin." :  "It was the spring of 1942, shortly before the Battle of El Alamein. My leave expired the next day and I had to leave for Finland. Axel Munthe, who had decided to come back  to Sweden, had asked me to accompany him to Stockholm,: " Malaparte I'm old, I'm blind, he told me, I beg you to accompany me, we shall travel in the same plane. I knew that Axel, despite his dark glasses, was not blind (his blindness is an ingenious invention to stir the romantic readers of "The Story of San Michele") I could not refuse to accompany him and  I promised to go with him the next day. "

This is, indeed, a very nice story, but cannot get straight acceptation : Malaparte left Capri in June 1943 and Munthe was greeted by Prince Eugène  on his arrival to Stockholm in the fall 1943..

We all know that : the truth, for the author of "Kaputt", was only  one of the countless facets of reality. E

Date de dernière mise à jour : 30/07/2013

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