Mal d’ombre

The “sinister name” Malombra has a long story in European culture. In 1881, Antonio Fogazzaro published the novel Malombra. As a recent article points out, the novel is “a perhaps unique example of an Italian novel of the period whose inspiration comes primarily from the English Victorian novel and the late gothic”.[1] References in other texts by Fogazzaro include authors like Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, Wilkie Collins, Edgar Allan Poe and books like Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Malombra was a success and was soon translated into English and published also in the UK (1896) and the US (1907). In 1942, Mario Soldati’s movie Malombra was released (after a first adaptation in 1917, made by Carmine Gallone). In 1947, the Romanian Surrealist Group (Gherasim Luca, Gellu Naum, Paul Păun, Virgil Teodorescu, Trost) published the collective text written in French, Eloge de Malombra – Cerne de l’amour absolu (Malombra, aura of absolute love), inspired by the film – as they called it: “the involuntarily surrealist film Malombra”. The story could go on with two more Italian films called Malombra (1974, 1984), but let’s stop here and consider instead the reasons of the surrealists’ fascination with the movie.

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