By Sissi Macchetto
“Libera’s Malaparte house is private. It is a house of paradoxes. It is an object which consumes. It is filled with unrequited histories. It is a relic left upon the pinnacle after the seas have subsided. It is a sarcophagus of soft cries. It whispers of inevitable fates” John Hejduk in Domus
Casa Malaparte, Le Mépris
Settings: Capri, 1938 ca
Leading actor: Brash journalist and political agitator Curzio Malaparte was exiled on the island of Lipari in 1933 for having criticized Mussolini’s regime in his writings. Paradoxically, upon his release, Malaparte longed for more seclusion. In 1937 ca he bought a site on Capri’s coastline and had the noted architect Adalberto Libera draw up plans for a home. Later on the writer substantially reworked the plan so that he himself is considered the house’s true architect.
Plot: “One cannot find the entrance to this house, it is hidden like the tombs” John Hejduk wrote in the essay published by Domus in 1980. Perched atop a promontory where “nature manifests itself with unparalleled brute force” and overlooking the stunning Gulf of Salerno, Casa Malaparte is an ode to solitude. It can be reached from the sea on calm days only and once there one must climb 99 steps to reach the entrance. From land it takes hours of walk on broken ground across the island. Stolid and majestic. “A house like me” Malaparte often said. In 1963 the house was used in Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Mépris, its vast rooms and never ending stairs perfectly serving as a setting for the progressive estrangement between Bardot and Michel Piccoli’s characters.
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