House of Liars Italian Menzogna e sortilegio is a novel by the Italian writer Elsa Morante published in , set in Southern Italy at the turn of the 20th century, describing a family's escape from increasingly dire financial and social circumstances into wishful thinking and delusions. The narrative covers three generations of a family in decline, blending elements of the fairy tale as well as the social novel and the coming-of-age-story. Elisa, a young woman from Southern Italy, lives as a recluse with her cordial, but fickle adoptive mother, the courtesan Rosaria, who loves but frequently neglects her. Her only company are the ghosts of her past, populating her lively imagination. After Rosaria's death Elisa tries to free herself from these ghosts by writing down her family's history. When Elisa's grandfather, the nobleman Teodoro, marries the significantly younger Cesira, an ambitious governess from the countryside, the resulting scancal leads to a break with his family.
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Scritto subito dopo la seconda guerra mondiale, la Morante con questo romanzo ha iniziato il suo lungo percorso letterario. Mia madre fu una Santa, mio padre un granduca in incognito, mio cugino Edoardo un ras dei deserti d'oltretomba e mia zia Concetta una profetessa regina. Get A Copy. Paperback , Einaudi tascabili , pages. Published by Einaudi first published More Details Original Title. Premio Viareggio Other Editions Friend Reviews.
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Rating details. Sort order. Start your review of Menzogna e sortilegio. Absolutely exceptional - Morante is a master storyteller. If you want to see from whom Elena Ferrante learned her craft, start with this unfortunately not well known writer, particularly her novel "History", one of the best books I've ever read.
View 2 comments. Absolutely amazing. I wish this book were more readily available in English. After reading Part III of a 6-part novel not including prologue and epilogue , I wanted to read the rest. Especially since The Nameless One ends on such a cliffhanger--where does Rosaria go? What happens to Anna? What happens with Francesco's family situation? Eventually I found it via interlibrary loan. The rest of the Absolutely amazing. The rest of the novel is just as magnificent, though certainly a slow burn.
The characters are well-fleshed out, and as other reviewers have said, mostly unlikable particularly Edoardo, but yeah, everyone else to some extent too. They each come into the lives of the others and to various degrees wreak certain amounts of havoc.
The only one who "escapes" is Edoardo--the one with the most money--but then he dies, and in death the others continue to vie for his attentions. And then in the periphery there are the three mother figures--Cesira, Concetta, and Allesandra--all of whom are in their own ways unhinged, overbearing, and controlling the outcome of their children's lives--yet with no real power Francesco and Edoardo disregard what their mothers say nearly completely.
I have to say that, even though she behaved in absolutely terrible ways throughout the entirety of the book, Anna Massia is without a doubt one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. I love her, completely. All together, this is fascinating, and I'll be thinking about this for a long time. Elisa tells the story of her family through memories and lots of imagination. I wish I had read this all in one go instead of spaced out over the semester because this book is incredible but man is it DENSE.
Plus, Morante's prose is rich and elaborate in her first language, Italian, so an older English translation sometimes left me wandering through the sentences trying to figure out where the nouns were.
I can't wait to read more Morante though. I will hopefully come back with a full review, but suffice to say that though this book might not be for everyone, it is absolutely fantastic.
Incredibly smart and modern and with so many layers that will take me several re-readings to understand properly. The only downside is the incredibly misogynistic introduction by Cesare Garboli, absolutely awful. A literary analysis riddled with the biases and techniques that are used at large to analyse and criticise women's writing. I picked this up after having read Tim Parks' Literary Tour of Italy and wanting to become acquainted with the work of some the authors he discusses.
It's a real bildungsroman and extraordinarily bleak. None of the characters has any redeeming qualities. Even the narrator, Elisa, who loves her mother uncritically and finds fault with her doting father, I picked this up after having read Tim Parks' Literary Tour of Italy and wanting to become acquainted with the work of some the authors he discusses. Even the narrator, Elisa, who loves her mother uncritically and finds fault with her doting father, is unsympathetic.
Still it's compelling. A good yarn, lots of twists and suspense. Can't wait to read more Morante. Her own biography is pretty interesting as well, from what I've been able to gather. An entertaining, very melodramatic tale of familial woe. No one is ever happy, so prepare to be depressed by the characters' fates and their wooden dialogues.
It is a pity, as the book deserved a little more care from the part of the publis An entertaining, very melodramatic tale of familial woe. It is a pity, as the book deserved a little more care from the part of the publisher, I think. I read this book because Elena Farrante in her book La frantumaglia, says it had a strong influence on her and indeed, I assume she chose her nom de plume Farrante because it rhymes with Morante.
House of Liars is full of difficult and deranged characters. I have a feeling it reads better in Italian than in translation.
It hasn't taken me a month to finish a book in a long time, and many times I almost put this down. I'm happy I didn't. Morante is a master storyteller and her prose is poetically charged.
It's too bad that this book is no longer in print. Jul 22, Alessandro Speciale rated it it was amazing. The stifling air of rooms in Southern Italy homes when the windows are shut against the summer heat and glare: that to me is the key atmosphere of this book.
The minds of the main characters are similarly stuck in the half light of such rooms, with their thoughts running in ever more twisted circles in the minuscule worlds they built themselves and that they are unwilling - even more than unable - to escape. As usual in Morante's novels there's a much more richly woven tapestry here: the stiflin The stifling air of rooms in Southern Italy homes when the windows are shut against the summer heat and glare: that to me is the key atmosphere of this book.
As usual in Morante's novels there's a much more richly woven tapestry here: the stifling - again - social mores of a Southern Italy that is utterly pre modern despite the appearance, as ghosts at the edge of the field of vision, of trains and telegrams; Catholicism as a religion of mindless rites, cruel superstitions and dazzling pomp; the paralyzing, powerless immobility of women's life before women rights and sexual liberation; a society where birth and wealth are as irreversible a curse as poverty and ignorance.
I think the whole novel could be summed as a huge essay on how things go rotten, and mad, and twisted when personal, family, social and spiritual relations are frozen in hopelss, canicular stillness.
All in all a great, if daunting, novel -- a mad gamble that is made possible by Morante's astonishing writing. A che serve esplorare questa reggia della morte? Il solo tentativo di sondarla produce angoscia e nausea, come quando ci si affaccia su un precipizio. Oct 29, Shahar rated it really liked it. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Readers also enjoyed. About Elsa Morante. Elsa Morante. Elsa Morante married the novelist Alberto Moravia in , and through him she met many of the leading Italian thinkers and writers of the day.
She began writing short stories which appeared in various publications and periodicals, including periodicals for children, in the s. Her first book was a collection of some of the stories, Il Gioco Segreto, published in It was followed in by Elsa Morante married the novelist Alberto Moravia in , and through him she met many of the leading Italian thinkers and writers of the day.
Menzogna e sortilegio