Edith Bruck

Biography

Edith Bruck (pseudonym of Edith Steinschreiber) was born in 1932 in Tiszabèrcel, Hungary. In 1944 she was deported with her family to the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Dachau, Christianstadt, Landsberg and Bergen-Belsen, where she lost both her parents and a brother.

After the end of WWII, she briefly returned to Hungary, lived in Czechoslovakia, and then moved to Israel, where she stayed for three years, until she decided to join her sister in Argentina. On her way to South America, however, in 1954, while in Italy for a brief stop, she changed her plans and resolved to stay in Rome where she has lived ever since.

Her first attempt to write about her imprisonment in the concentration camps goes back to the first months after her liberation from Auschwitz, when she began writing a memoir, which, however, got lost during her multiple relocations. Once in Italy, she resumed her writing project and published her first book Chi ti ama così (1959; Who loves you like this [2001]), beginning a long and prolific literary career. In her search for an effective literary voice, Bruck adopted the Italian language, which, according to the author, provided her with an emotional detachment that enabled her to describe her experiences of the concentration camps. She has published more than thirteen novels and several books of poems. While most of her literary production has been devoted to Holocaust testimony, she also wrote two novels (Mio splendido disastro [1979] and L’amore offeso [2002]) about her tumultuous relationship with the poet Nelo Risi, and a third, Il silenzio degli amanti [1997], revolving around the themes of friendship and homosexual love. In the 1970s, Bruck was also involved in theatre. Her first play, Sulla Porta (1971) was staged in Milan at the Piccolo Teatro and in Rome at Teatro Quirinale.

She was one of the founders of the Teatro della Maddalena in Rome, where Mara, Maria, Marianna (by Bruck, Maraini, and Boggio) opened in 1974, followed the subsequent year by her Per il tuo bene. She worked for RAI from the 1970s until the 1990s as a director and screenwriter. She directed Improvviso (1979) starring Valeria Morriconi and Giacomo Rosselli, Quale Sardegna? (1983), based on Sea and Sardinia by D.H. Lawrence, Altare per la madre (1986), with Franco Nero and Angela Winkel, and worked on the screenplay of Fotografando Patrizia  (1984), directed by Salvatore Sampieri, and Per odio per amore (1991), directed by Nelo Risi. A film, also directed by Nelo Risi, was made in 1966 based on her book Andremo in città, starring Geraldine Chaplin and Nino Castelnuovo. Director Roberto Faenza is currently working on the production of a film based on Bruck’s Quanta stella c’è nel cielo. Actively engaged in the public debate over Holocaust testimony and the role of the survivor in civil society, Edith Bruck was featured in the short film Testimonianza sul razzismo, broadcast on RAI on 4 June 2002. Bruck has worked as a literary translator and translated into Italian the Hungarian poets Jòzsef Attila (Poesie 1922-1937, Mondadori, 2002) and  Miklós Radnóti (Mi capirebbero le scimmie, Donzelli, 2009). She herself has been translated into Hungarian as well as English, German, and other foreign languages. The winner of several literary prizes (Premio Rapallo [1989] for Lettera alla madre and Premio Viareggio [2010] for Quanta stella c’è nel cielo), Edith Bruck has gained national and international recognition for her writings in Holocaust testimony and, more generally, in contemporary Italian literature.

Compiled by Gabriella Romani (Seton Hall University)

Bibliography

1959 Chi ti ama così (Milan: Lerici). Who Loves You Like This transl. Thomas Kelso (Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books, 2001)

1962 Andremo in città (Milan: Lerici)

1962 È Natale, vado a vedere: racconto (Milano: Scheiwiller)

1969 Le sacre nozze (Milan: Longanesi)

1974 Due stanze vuote (Venice: Marsilio)

1975 Il tatuaggio (Parma: Guanda)

1978 Transit (Milan: Bompiani)

1979 Mio splendido disastro (Milan: Bompiani)

1980 In difesa del padre (Milan: Guanda)

1988 Lettera alla madre (Milan: Garzanti). Letter to My Mother trans. Brenda Webster and Gabriella Romani (New York: MLA Texts and Translations, 2006)

1990 Monologo (Milan: Garzanti)

1993 Nuda proprietà (Venice: Marsilio)

1995 L’attrice (Venice: Marsilio)

1997 Il silenzio degli amanti (Venice: Marsilio)

1998 Itinerario: Poesia scelte (Roma: Quasar)

1999 Signora Auschwitz: il dono della parola (Venice: Marsilio)

2002 L’amore offeso (Venice: Marsilio)

2004 Lettera da Francoforte (Venice: Marsilio)

2005 Specchi (Roma: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura)

2009 Quanta stella c’è nel cielo (Milan: Garzanti)

2010 Privato (Milan: Garzanti)

Compiled by Gabriella Romani (Seton Hall University)

 

Criticism

Balma, Philip. ‘È Natale, vado a vedere.’ Italica 86. 3 (2009): 534-538.

—. ‘Intervista a Edith Bruck.’ Italian Quarterly 171-172 (2007): 75-87. [Volume published in 2009]

—. ‘Poems from In difesa del padre’ trans. Philip Balma. Italian Poetry Review 3 (2008) 277-287.

—. ‘Edith Bruck’s Experience in Italy: Publishing, Cinema, and Thematic Ghetto.’ In Contemporary Jewish Writers in Italy: a Generational Approach Eds. Raniero Speelman, Monica Jansen, and Silvia Gaiga. Utrecht: Utrecht Publishing and Archiving Services, 2007, pp. 107-113.

Ciccarelli, Andrea. ‘Frontier, Exile, and Migration in the Contemporary Italian Novel’ The Cambridge Companion to the Italian Novel. Ed. Peter Bondanella and Andrea Ciccarelli. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003, pp. 197-213

De Angelis, Giovanna. ‘Il dolore morale e la scrittura: il caso Edith Bruck.’ In Le donne e la Shoah. Rome: Avagliano Editore, 2007, pp. 129-163.

Di Sabatino, Guendalina, ed. Lettera alla madre: Dal romanzo alla mostra itinerante: 23 artisti incontrano Edith Bruck. Teramo: Centro di Cultura delle Donne Hannah Arendt, 2004.

Giorgio, Adalgisa. ‘Dall’autobiografia al romanzo: La rappresentazione della Shoah nell’opera di Edith Bruck.’ Le donne delle minoranze: Le ebree e protestanti d’Italia. Ed. Claire E. Honess and Verina R. Jones. Turin: Claudiana, 1999, pp. 297-307.

—. ‘Strategies for Remembering: Auschwitz, Mother, and Writing in Edith Bruck.’ European Memories of the Second World War. Ed. Helmut Peitsch, Chales Burdett, and Claire Gorrara. New York: Berghahn, 1999, pp. 247-55.

Guida, Elisa. ‘L’etica del sopravvissuto nell’opera di Edith Bruck.’ Cuadernos de Filologìa italiana 14 (2007): 187-204

Lucamante, Stefania. ‘Non soltanto memoria. La scrittura delle donne della Shoah dal dopoguerra ai giorni nostri.’ Scrittori italiani di origine ebrea ieri e oggi: un approccio generazionale. Eds. Raniero Speelman, Monica Jansen, and Silvia Gaiga. Utrecht: Utrecht Publishing and Archiving Services, 2007, pp. 77-95.

Mauceri, Maria Cristina. ‘Edith Bruck, a Translingual Writer Who Found a Home in Italy.’ Italica 84. 2-3 (2007): 606-613.

Mincer, Laura Q (ed.) ‘Roberto Della Rocca incontra Edith Bruck.’ In Per amore della lingua: incontri con scrittori ebrei. Rome: Lithos Editrice, 2005, pp. 23-43.

Romani, Gabriella. ‘Introduction.’ Edith Bruck, Letter to My Mother. Trans. Brenda Webster and Gabriella Romani. New York: MLA Texts and Translations Series, 2006, pp. vii-xxii.

—. ‘Scrittrice italiana per caso.’ Edith Bruck, Privato. Milan: Garzanti, 2010, pp. 175-185.

Serkowska, Hanna, ‘Edith Bruck tra commemorazione e “liquidazione” ’,in Tra storia e immaginazione: Gli scrittori ebrei di lingua italiana si raccontano, edited by H. Serkowska. Rabid: Kraków (Cracow: Poland), 2008, pp. 165-181.

—. ‘Dall’Ungheria all’Italia e di ritorno - Edith Bruck tra Imre Kertész e Primo Levi’, in L’Italia e l’Europa centro-orientale. Gli ultimi cento anni. Ed. Piotr Salwa. Semper: Warszawa (Warsaw: Poland), pp. 80-90.

Villa, Cristina. ‘Perché la Shoah talvolta parla italiano? La letteratura italiana della deportazione razziale nelle opera di Edith Bruck ed Elisa Springer.’ Scrittori italiani di origine ebrea ieri e oggi: un approccio generazionale. Eds. Raniero Speelman, Monica Jansen, and Silvia Gaiga. Utrecht: Utrecht Publishing and Archiving Services, 2007, pp. 97-105.

Webster, Brenda. ‘An interview with Edith Bruck.’ 13th Moon 11.1-2 (1993): 170-75.

Wilson, Rita. ‘Contradictory Cultures: Edith Bruck and Giuliana Morandini.’ Speculative Identities, Contemporary Italian Women’s Narratives. Leeds: Northern UP, 2000, pp. 99-111.

Compiled by Gabriella Romani (Seton Hall University)