Malaparte, Curzio. La Peau. Paris: Les Éditions Denoël, le 30 Août 1949. Second edition, first French edition, translated by René Novella. 18.5 cm. 504 numbered pages, verso of page 505 blank.
This copy is signed, inscribed and dated to the legendary Italian author and publisher of La Voce, Giuseppe Prezzolini, with whom Malaparte had long personal and professional relationships. The dedication reads: “al mio caro Giuseppe Prezzolini questi <<tatuaggi>> affetuosamente il suo Curzio Malaparte Parigi 5 ottobre 1949.” (To my dear Giuseppe Prezzolini these ‘tattoos’ affectionately your Curzio Malaparte October 5, 1949.) This copy also has the book plate of the medieval scholar Isa Ragusa, whose family enjoyed a warm relationship with Prezzolini during Prezzolini’s tenure at Columbia University (1929 – 1962). Dr. Ragusa’s father, Andrea Ragusa, published Prezzolini’s Repertorio bibliografico della storia e della critica della letteratura italiana 1933 – 1945 under the S. F. Vanni imprint in New York 1946 – 1948.
In lieu of a preface, Malaparte inserted a letter to his surviving French comrades of World War I, in whose army Malaparte enlisted at age sixteen and fought with valor and was awarded the croix de guerre avec palme, in two citations.
In 1931, Malaparte published in France (Paris : Grasset) Le Technique du coup d’État the first book published against Hitler in Europe, according to Malaparte, which was banned in Italy and Germany, and, for which he was punished by internal exile on the Island of Lipari until 1938, with a release under house arrest. Mobilized in 1940, Malparte was sent to the eastern front under General Messe. The Germans arrested him in 1941 for article he wrote about the events on the eastern front for Corriere della Sera later to appear after the war as The Volga Rises in Europe (La Volga naît en Europe. Domat, Paris, 1948.)
This is a paper-bound copy still partially unopened, presented to Prezzolini after the Second World War when the two old friends were reunited in Paris in 1949. The paper is brittle and browning, yet, despite its fragility this copy of “Skin” is a remarkable souvenir of Malaparte’s scathing depiction of the depravity unleashed in Naples during and after the war, especially during the occupation, which he gave to Prezzolini with the inscribed euphemism, “tatuaggi.” Prezzolini spent the war years in the safety of the United States, while his old friend and fellow journalist saw action, wrote about what he saw, and by telling the truth, was punished and reviled by his own countrymen.