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Arturo's Island: A Novel

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  3,510 ratings  ·  200 reviews
Elsa Morante’s novels are “astonishing for the quality of the writing, . . . the complexity of the invented world, the wide-ranging view of the human condition” (Elena Ferrante).

Once considered the greatest writer of Italy’s postwar generation—and admired by authors as varied as John Banville and Rivka Galchen—Elsa Morante is experiencing a literary renaissance, marked not
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by Liveright (first published 1957)
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3.97  · 
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 ·  3,510 ratings  ·  200 reviews

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Steven Godin
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, italy
Set in the years just before the outbreak of World War II Morante's strange coming-of-age tale has the feel of a fable, but one infused with menace, Jealousy, and harsh romanticism. On the Island of Procida (off the coast of Naples) lives Arturo, a motherless adolescent who is accustomed to solitude and spends his time lost in books or wandering around the uninhabitable places away from the rest of the populace, he is awaiting the return of his itinerant father, a man he idolizes, who frequently ...more
How does one rate a book such as this?

It has power, the power of the grotesque, of an oath, of a curse. At its conclusion one recognizes this. The book's strength lies in the emotions laid bare.

This is a coming-of-age tale set on the small island of Procida in the Bay of Naples at the cusp of the Second World War. A widowed father, his son and the new stepmother are the three central characters. It is their relationships that readers observe. The eponymous Arturo is the son. We follow him from
Feb 23, 2019 marked it as to-read
I’m excited about this one. The first new translation in sixty years, by Elena Ferrante’s translator.
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amazing
This was an absolutely amazing book, Elsa Morante should be more widely known, though she only wrote four books, and went into exile during WWII and had a famous husband, that may have kept people from seeing the incredible author she was. The prose was delectable, sometimes flowery descriptions detract, but in this case it just furthers the magic of our understanding of the protagonist and the island that serves as a mirror to his soul.

The story follows the childhood of Arturo into his teenage
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

I have long wanted to read the Italian writer Elsa Morante, ever since I learned of her influence on Elena Ferrante. Arturo’s Island was Morante’s second novel, originally published in Italian in 1957, and now freshly translated by Ann Goldstein for this Pushkin Press edition (my thanks to the publishers for kindly providing a review copy). It is a beautifully-observed, passionate coming-of-age story, one that captures the pain and confusion of adolescence in an imaginative, poetic styl
John Trum
Feb 25, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I read this in Italian and found it one of the best written books I've ever read. The story is not important since the book is so well written. I get the impression that Elsa Morante is not read more because people think that she was Alberto Moravia's wife and was only know because of him--I really think it should be the other way around.
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

In my reading of this novel there was a Before and an After.

In between there was the image heading this review, and it roughly happened when I was midway through. With few hints to a time period, with a very slow pace and an uninterrupted descriptive texture, the narration felt suspended. The story of Arturo, a boy with a boundless mind insulated in a male world and confined in his island, gradually starts opening up and taking more dimensions and a greater extension. The impetuosity and drive o
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, italy
Very well written. Even though it is overwrought in places, philosophical in others, ambiguous and filled with often unlikeable and repressed characters, it is a real page turner! As in other Italian novels I've read, the setting, the island of Procida off the coast of Naples, is lovingly described and becomes like another character.
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: italy, read-2019, may-2019
Arturo's Island is a magnificent and complex novel about the coming of age of Arturo, a boy half orphaned at his birth and growing up in loneliness in the Neapolitan island of Procida. It didn't help to have a rich father who was aloof, cold, condescending and traveled most of the time (for fun) but did not share anything about his adventures. Poor Arturo yearned for his father's affection in vain.
Arturo's boring life took on the same routine everyday until his father brought home a 16 year old
Michael Fitzgerald
This is a novel of surprising and sometimes profound depth - ostensibly a story of a young boy free to roam an island paradise, this book delves into family (particularly the eternally strange and beautiful relationship between fathers and sons), provincial life, first love, death and aching loneliness. Filled with seemingly pedestrian passages of awkward dinners and Arturo's endless wanderings of his island, Morante deftly tells the delicate story of Arturo's childhood and emergence into adoles ...more
Bit of a "slow burner" this one - I started off quite liking it in a 3.5-4 star way, as the place/characters were beautifully drawn/extended, and although it is "just" a coming-of-age story the writing became better and better as Arturo went through the throes of adolescence and it built to a highly satisfying conclusion, so I closed the book realising that it had sneakily won me over to be a 5-Star Favourite!
Aug 13, 2017 marked it as wishlist-italy  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Five Books
Morante makes Arturo's coming of age on a small island in the Bay of Naples something very nearly mythic. Savored and enjoyed.
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-fiction
Arturo’s Island is a heart-warming, yet troubled coming-of-age story covering two years in the life of the protagonist from age 14 to 16. As such, it affords author Elsa Morante ample opportunity to incorporate all necessary coming-of-age ingredients, from exquisite and charming naiveté of how the grown-up world works, to a wrenching education in reality.

Arturo has lived on Procida, a remote island in the Bay of Naples, all his life. His mother died in childbirth, and his father, Wilhelm, is a r
Ken Ryu
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Morante offers this version of the coming-of-age narrative. The story centers on a young boy, Arturo, growing up on a small Italian island. Her voice is pitch perfect. The narration is told from the viewpoint of Arturo as he recollects his childhood and struggles with becoming a man. He is motherless. For his formative years, he is predominately raised by a male servant, Silvestro, while his wanderlust father leaves for long stretches on travel. He lives in a small ramshackle castle sorely in ne ...more
Lisa Cobb Sabatini
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At times disturbing, at times very moving, Arturo's Island by Elsa Morante, translated into English by Anna Goldstein, is a fascinating study of a young man reared by a frequently absent father. As Arturo narrates the story of his childhood in a small Italian island, readers experience wonder, frustration, sadness, disappointment, and hope.
I have never read, not am I able to do so, this novel in its original Italian, and, for me, the translator, together with the author, created beautiful, movin
I'm not sure how to rate this really.

I enjoyed the opening and ending sections- the introduction to the island was beautifully written and the final denouement quite moving. However, I got really bogged down in the middle.

It's a curious text-both Wilhelm and Arturo express incredibly misogynistic attitudes towards women, that are never really challenged. This is not helped by the way in which women are presented- N. as submissive and 'saintly'; Arturo's lover as sexually knowing and assertive.
Irina Pennestrì
I so loved the accurate use of language, the amazing description of landscapes outside and inside the characters. If the book didn't have its cover I could never be able to determine the writer was a woman! And I fell in love with Arturo Gerace since the very first much that in the end I couldn't accept we had to part! I really loved this book!
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really liked Morante's prose and the story itself felt very dream-like and nostalgic. The novel's theme is similar to Call me by your name (a romance with a background of an idyllic, eternal summer) which I'm a big fan of, but at the same time Morante's writing style is unique and very enjoyable.
4,5/5 stars
I wish you could give half stars—this book was some where between 'I liked it' and 'I really liked it'. I enjoyed following the story of Arturo and his upbringing. Often times I found myself feeling bad for him and at the same time wanting him to grow-up.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful and tragic, this book will rip your heart out but not in a brutal way. The island is exquisitely described and the characters are fully alive in their decaying orbits around the crumbling old house. Not to be missed. Once you're done, read everything Morante ever wrote. Worth it.
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
elsa morante walked so that elena ferrante could run
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A symbolic prison island. A dream life of dirt and sea and shoreline. A destiny of jealousy and envy and loneliness. Love impossible in a male-centric society.
Sharon McNeil
Disturbing about attitudes towards women. (No matter how "lyrical" the author's writing.
Steve Streeter
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sublime - poetic - entrancing.... profound ...disturbing ....magical ...a classic republished and well worth the read
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was critically acclaimed in Italy with its initial publication. Released in 2019 with the translation by Ann Goldstein.
Leslie Ann
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I'm curious why Morante decided to write a coming-of-age story of a boy, but the adolescent emotions felt true, and the prose was gorgeous.
Tim Parks
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my absolute favourites, a quite extraordinary novel.
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Am glad that Procida put me in touch with Morante's writings. Look forward to more of her sensitive writing.
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a gift and my first read of 2014. I read the French translation.

L'île d'Arturo is a very special and unique book. It takes us to a smile island where the whole story takes place. This island is the whole world for Arturo, the main character, whose life we follow from childhood to the end of his teenage years.
I find it hard to explain the charm of this book. I wouldn't know who to advise it to. But it is powerful, graceful, full of details and symbols and imagination. It's a story a
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La Stamberga dei ...: L'isola di Arturo di Elsa Morante 1 15 Mar 10, 2014 02:55AM  

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Elsa Morante married the novelist Alberto Moravia in 1941, 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 1930s. Her first book was a collection of some of the stories, Il Gioco Segreto, published in 1941. It was followed in 1942 by
“Quelli come te, che hanno due sangui diversi nelle vene, non trovano mai riposo né contentezza; e mentre sono là, vorrebbero trovarsi qua, e appena tornati qua, subito hanno voglia di scappar via. Tu te ne andrai da un luogo all’altro, come se fuggissi di prigione, o corressi in cerca di qualcuno; ma in realtà inseguirai soltanto le sorti diverse che si mischiano nel tuo sangue, perché il tuo sangue è come un animale doppio, è come un cavallo grifone, come una sirena. E potrai anche trovare qualche compagnia di tuo gusto, fra tanta gente che s’incontra al mondo; però, molto spesso, te ne starai solo. Un sangue-misto di rado si trova contento in compagnia: c’è sempre qualcosa che gli fa ombra, ma in realtà è lui che si fa ombra da se stesso, come il ladro e il tesoro, che si fanno ombra uno con l’altro.” 34 likes
“Un sangue-misto di rado si trova contento in compagnia: c'è sempre qualcosa che gli fa ombra , ma in realtà è lui che si fa ombra da se stesso, come il ladro e il tesoro, che si fanno ombra uno con l'altro” 10 likes
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