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When Elsa Morante published La Storia. Romanzo in 1974 it was a watershed event that invested Italian society both in terms of the unprecedented success among readers and the ideologically fueled controversy among critics. Echoes of this reached the US. Paul Hoffman, writing from Rome for the New York Times, reported: “For the first time since anyone can remember, people in railroads compartments and espresso bars discuss a book—the Morante novel— rather than the soccer championship or the latest scandal.

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