The Wound Inflicted on the Body of History: Elsa Morante between Western and Eastern Spirituality
Elsa Morante scholars have long been aware of the author’s profound knowledge of oriental philosophical and literary traditions but, until now, there has been no examination of the theoretical and formal impact of this on her work. It is also well known, as Garboli notes, that during the 1960s and 1970s, Morante was deeply affected by Simone Weil and her work Cahiers, with its summation of oriental spiritualism – especially Hinduism – and Western religious and philosophical traditions. The principle of Weil’s mysticism, of the soul penetrated by grace, of the divine light capable of defeating pesanteur (gravity), is indeed the result of her fusing the Christian doctrine of Divine Illumination – recalling St John of the Cross – with the mystic light of oriental thought. The aim of this paper is, mediating through Weil, to investigate which interpretation of mystical illumination, western or eastern, Morante embraced in the 1960s and ‘70s, and to analyze its impact on her work La Storia (History). According to Weil, the experience of succumbing to divine light is made possible through a meditation on the ordeal of the cross, the unconsoled affliction that strikes the soul and permits the process of ‘decreation’. Morante’s interpretation of the Second World War and the wounds inflicted by it on humanity, that can only begin to heal through a spiritual process of decreation, can be read in the light of Weil’s philosophy.
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