(also indexed under
is something of the cynical wit of Mark Twain in
Giuseppe Marotta, a Neapolitan whose epigrams and
“one-liners” have been extracted from his many writings
to produce entire lists, containing such things as:
—I have seen a lot of
people die and none have come back, so it can’t be all
—I believe in divine justice every time one of my enemies dies.
—Michael told me I had awakened him; he said my thinking was making an infernal racket.
was from a poor family in Naples and moved away to
Milan as a young man to pursue a career in journalism.
During that period of his life, he wrote for a number of
newspapers, including the Corriere della Sera, the prestigious
and largest Milanese daily. He continued to work on
stories, plays and screenplays; they display a marked
lack of false sentimentality and are now regarded as
early influences on the important school of Italian
Neo-Realism after WWII.
from his journalistic writings, he published his
first book, Divorziamo per piacere, in
1934. At the time of his death in 1963, he was a film
critic for the magazine, L’Europeo. In
between, he picked up the coveted 1954 Bugatta literary
award for Coraggio, Guardiamo; he
helped write the screenplay for the first Italian
“musical,” Carosello napoletano in
1954, and, most importantly, left an indelible mark in
literature about Naples with L’oro di
Napoli (which has appeared in English as Neapolitan Gold), a collection of
vignettes about Neapolitan life. The book is absolutely
timeless in its descriptive power, which is to say that
it “feels” as if it has always existed. Neapolitans from
500 years ago could read it and enjoy it, and future
generations will do the same.
De Sica turned the book into a film in 1954, using
some, but not all, of the episodes in the book. Marotta
helped write the screenplay together with Cesare
Zavattini, one of the great screenwriters of Italian
Neo-Realism. The film features the two most
characteristic personalities of Neapolitan stage and
film of the twentieth century, Eduardo
de Filippo and Totò;
Sophia Loren is in the film, as well, and director De
Sica appears in a famous episode involving the
Like much Neo-Realism, the film is bitter-sweet. In some
versions of the film, one of the six episodes, il funeralino, depicting (with almost no
dialogue) the funeral procession of a small boy, has
been edited out.
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