The Power of Disturbance
Elsa Morante's Aracoeli

Edited by Sara Fortuna and Manuele Gragnolati

Legenda (General Series)


17 July 2009  •  202pp

ISBN: 978-1-906540-50-0 (hardback)  •  RRP £80, $110, €95


Aracoeli (1982) was the last novel written by Elsa Morante (1912-85), one of the most significant Italian writers of the twentieth century. The journey, both geographical and memorial, of a homosexual son in search of his dead mother is a first-person narrative that has puzzled many critics for its darkness and despair. By combining scholars from different disciplines and cultural traditions, this volume re-evaluates the aesthetic and theoretical complexity of Morante's novel and argues that it engages with crucial philosophical and epistemological questions in an original and profound way. Contributors explore the manifold tensions staged by the novel in connection with contemporary philosophical discourse (from feminist/queer to political theory to psycho-analysis) and authors (such as Emilio Gadda, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Pedro Almodovar). The Power of Disturbance shows that by creating a 'hallucinatory' representation of the relationship between mother and child, Aracoeli questions the classical distinction between subject and object, and proposes an altogether new and subversive kind of writing.

Manuele Gragnolati is Reader in Italian Literature at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Somerville College. Sara Fortuna teaches philosophy of language at the Università Guglielmo Marconi in Rome.


  • ‘The chapters avail themselves of the entire arc of twentieth-century theories and models of subjectivity and sexuality, to try to unravel Manuele's search for freedom from his all-consuming passion for his mother Aracoeli, and include Freud, Jung, Klein, Bowlby, Stern, Sander, Winnicott, Laplanche and Pontalis, Kristeva, Lacan, Cavarero, Muraro, Silverman, (Jessica) Benjamin, and Butler. These theories serve the novel very well, illuminating the many strands and aspects of Manuele's 'condition' and of the novel... An invaluable teaching tool and thus an incentive to include Aracoeli in advanced university courses in Italian and European literature.’ — Adalgisa Giorgio, Italian Studies 66.1, March 2011, 144-46


Sara Fortuna, Manuele Gragnolati
Between Affection and Discipline: Exploring Linguistic Tensions from Dante to Aracoeli
Sara Fortuna, Manuele Gragnolati
Seeing and Telling: Anamorphosis, Relational Identity, and Other Perspectival Perplexities in Aracoeli
Rebecca West
Resisting Paranoia: Poesis and Politics in Aracoeli
Florian Mussgnug
‘The Lover of a Hybrid’: Memory and Fantasy in Aracoeli
Christoph F. E. Holzhey
Scene madri: Psychoanalytic Visions from Aracoeli to Volver
Vittorio Lingiardi
Baubo — Another and Additional Name of Aracoeli: Morante’s Queer Feminism
Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky
Staging the Passion of Aracoeli
Agnese Grieco
Aracoeli and Gadda’s La cognizione del dolore: Disturbed Sons, Disturbing Mothers
Giuseppe Stellardi
Politics and Sexuality in Pasolini’s Petrolio
Francesca Cadel
Between Italy and Spain: The Tragedy of History and the Salvific Power of Love in Elsa Morante and María Zambrano
Elisa Martínez Garrido
The Womb of Dreams: Cabbalistic Themes and Images in Elsa Morante’s Aracoeli
Sergio Parussa
Morante and Weil: The Aporiae of History and the End of the Fairy Tale
Claude Cazalé Bérard
Indian Traces: Aracoeli, Pasolini’s L’odore dell’India, and Moravia’s Un’idea dell’India
Mimma Congedo

Bibliography entry:

Fortuna, Sara, and Manuele Gragnolati (eds), The Power of Disturbance: Elsa Morante's Aracoeli (Legenda, 2009)

First footnote reference: 35 The Power of Disturbance: Elsa Morante's Aracoeli, ed. by Sara Fortuna and Manuele Gragnolati (Legenda, 2009), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Fortuna and Gragnolati, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Fortuna, Sara, and Manuele Gragnolati (eds). 2009. The Power of Disturbance: Elsa Morante's Aracoeli (Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Fortuna and Gragnolati 2009: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Fortuna and Gragnolati 2009: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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