Massimo Bontempelli

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Massimo Bontempelli
Born (1878-05-12)May 12, 1878
Died July 21, 1960(1960-07-21) (aged 82)
Occupation novelist, short story writer, journalist, playwright, composer
Nationality Italian
Genre Novel, short story
Literary movement Magical realism
Notable works The Chess Set in the Mirror

Massimo Bontempelli (May 12, 1878 – July 21, 1960) was an Italian poet, playwright, novelist and composer. He was influential in developing and promoting the literary style known as magical realism.


Bontempelli graduated from the University of Turin in 1903. He taught elementary school for seven years, doing his writing on the side, but abandoned teaching for journalism when he could not secure a position at a secondary school. He served as a war correspondent during WWI. After the war, he settled in Milan and became interested in the literary styles of futurism and magical realism. In 1926, he, along with Curzio Malaparte, founded the journal "900". James Joyce, Max Jacob, and Rainer Maria Rilke sat on the editorial committee and Virginia Woolf and Blaise Cendrars were among the contributors.

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Bontempelli was an active fascist. He served as a secretary of the fascist writers' union and spent time abroad lecturing on Italian culture and spreading propaganda. In 1938, he refused to accept a university post formerly held by a Jewish professor and was kicked out of the fascist party. After WWII, Bontempelli won a Senate race but the results were voided when his fascist ties were discovered. In 1953, Bontempelli's "L'amante Fedele" won the Strega Prize, Italy's most prestigious literary award. After years of declining health, Bontempelli died in Rome in 1960.


1908 Socrate moderno
1912 I sette savi
1916 La guardia alla luna (Watching the Moon)
1919 Il purosangue; Siepe a nordovest
1920 La vita intensa - Romanzo dei romanzi
1921 La vita operosa; Nuovi racconti d'avventure
1922 Viaggi e scoperte; La scacchiera davanti allo specchio (The Chess Set in the Mirror); Ultime avventure
1923 Eva ultima (Last Eva)
1924 La donna del Nadir
1925 La donna dei miei sogni e altre avventure moderne; Nostra Dea
1926 L'eden della tartaruga
1928 Donna nel sole, e altri idilli; Minnie la candida
1929 Il figlio di due madri (The Boy with Two Mothers); Il neosofista
1930 Vita e morte di Adria e dei suoi figli (The Life and Death of Adria and Her Children)
1931 Mia vita, morte e miracoli; Stato d grazia
1932 La famiglia del fabbro; <<522>> Racconto di una giornata; Valoria
1934 La fame
1935 Nembo (Stormcloud)
1934 Galleria degli schiavi; Bassano padre geloso
1937 Gente nel tempo (People in Time)
1938 L'avventura novecentista
1941 Giro del sole
1942 Sette discorsi; Cenerentola (Cinderella)
1945 Le notti (The Nights); L'acqua (Water)
1946 L'ottuagenaria
1947 Venezia Salva
1949 L'innocenza di Camilla
1953 L'amante fedele (The Faithful Lover)

Works in English translation[edit]

The Elevator Man. The Living Age, October 1, 1926, pp. 68–71.
The Good Wind. The Living Age, July 1, 1927, pp. 44–47.
Foundations. The Living Age, September 15, 1927, pp. 549–551.
Sweet Adeline. The Living Age, April 15, 1928, pp. 720–722.
Meeting Batoletti — A Railway Station Extravaganza. The Living Age, March 15, 1930, pp. 115–120.
Letters of Introduction Translated by W.L. Dale. The Cornhill Magazine, No. 1030, Winter 1961/62 pages 268-271.
Dea by Dea. Translated by Anthony Oldcorn in Twentieth-Century Italian Drama: An Anthology, the First Fifty Years, ed. Jane House and Antonio Attisani (New York: Columbia UP, 1995).
Separations: Two Novels of Mothers and Children (Figlio di due madri / The Boy with Two Mothers and Vita e morte di Adria e dei suoi figli / The Life and Death of Adria and Her Children). Translated by Estelle Gilson. McPherson & Co, 2000.
The Divine Miss D and Genuine Minnie in The Italian Theater of the Grotesque. A New Theater for the Twentieth Century: An Anthology, ed. and trans. Jack D. Street and Rod Umlas (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 2003).
The Chess Set in the Mirror (La scacchiera davanti allo specchio). Translated by Estelle Gilson. Illustrated by Sergio Tofano. Paul Dry Books, 2006.
The Faithful Lover (L'amante fedele). Translated by Estelle Gilson with an introduction by Luigi Fontanella. Host Publications, 2007, [1]
On A Locomotive & Other Runaway Tales. Translated by Gilbert Alter-Gilbert. Xenos Book, 2013.
Watching the Moon and Other Plays. Translation and introduction by Patricia Gaborik. Italica Press, 2013. Also includes Stormcloud and Cinderella.