Author(s): Elizabeth McKenzie
Moody, potent, subtly apocalyptic, The Communist tells the story of Walter Ferranini, the earnest, intense, autodidact son of the working class become an Italian Communist MP who undergoes a crisis just after Khrushchev for the first time denounced the Stalinist dictatorship. Ferranini, worn-out after many years of organizing, has begun to doubt a Marxist-Leninist article of faith: that a man's labor is potentially empowering and ennobling. When he publishes an article arguing that work is drudgery, physically destructive and mentally unrewarding, not only in capitalist economies like the US and Italy, but in the Soviet Union too, he finds himself isolated from his comrades-and his American wife, whom he met during war-time exile, while the Party elders disapprove of his new love for Nuccia, a journalist, and a married woman. The Communist is the story of a life lived in a faith and of what it means when that faith is lost. We see Walter in his youth in his native Emilia Romagna. We see him in wartime exile in Camden, PA, in the belly of the capitalist beast. We see him bewildered beyond words when at last he visits Leningrad in 1958. He comes alive for us, as does his growing sense of loss. Morselli, though not a Communist himself - indeed he has been described as a man who "Questioned every contemporary certainty," - but he was an outsider and a loner, and he tells this story of a man apart with deep and compelling sympathy.
A unique political coming of age story never before available in English. The Communist is valuable both as a beautiful memoir and important specimen of Italian political history.
G. Morselli (1912-1973) was a novelist and essayist. After serving in the Italian Army, he began writing reportages and short stories while living abroad. All of Morselli's writing was published posthumously after the author committed suicide at the age of sixty. Frederika Randall is a journalist and translator of Italian literature. She lives in Rome. Elizabeth McKenzie is the author of The Portable Veblen and is the senior editor of the Chicago Quarterly Review and the managing editor of Catamaran Literary Reader.