The Wound Inflicted on the Body of History: Elsa Morante between Western and Eastern Spirituality

  • Lucia Dell'Aia University of Bari
Keywords: Elsa Morante, Simone Weil, Hinduism, Victim, Decreation


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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Author Biography

Lucia Dell'Aia, University of Bari

Lucia Dell’Aia is graduated in Theory of Literature at the University of Bari, where she obtained a research doctorate in Italian Studies. She currently holds a research fellowship at the same university. She participated in conferences and seminars and she published on literary magazines, focusing mostly on Elsa Morante, the tragic in Moravia and theoretical issues related to the relationship between form and dimension of time. She is the author of a monograph on the Mondo salvato dai ragazzini of Elsa Morante: La sfera del puer. Il tempo dei ragazzini di Elsa Morante, B. A. Graphis, Bari, 2010.



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How to Cite
Dell’Aia, L. (2011). The Wound Inflicted on the Body of History: Elsa Morante between Western and Eastern Spirituality. Between, 1(2).