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  • Reminiscences of My Father *
  • Luce Marinetti Barbi (bio)
    Translated by Lawrence Rainey

A few words suffice to let the incidents speak for themselves when writing about Marinetti as father, poet, human being, or intimate friend. Marinetti—that was how his friends called him, and my mother, too; papà—an affectionate father, humorous, considerate, and a deeply devoted companion to Beny (Benedetta). Me—Luce, the third daughter. As my father was no longer quite so young, my mother, who was much younger, liked to keep me close by. After his first heart attack he dubbed me his little “nurse.”

From the day he passed away, real and unreal accumulate in the effort to rediscover and understand him better, and not just in memory.

He introduced me to a very large world. When I was a little girl he would respond to all of my curious questions. Very simply, he would explain his poetry, Futurism, his philosophical and social principles, and he would read his poems, teaching me the importance of declamation. Taking my hands, he loved to draw sketches of Futurist architecture, which had been prevented from being realized during the ventennio, 1 and thus he taught me the essential importance of line and space, always with his optimistic and enthusiastic desire.

He took extreme pains to appreciate and give guidance to young people who turned to him, not just by encouraging them, but above all by believing in them. From my earliest childhood I would sit and listen to him, enchanted and hypnotized. He possessed a gift for describing every episode and every detail of his adventurous past with such a variety of images that he seemed to be living them right then and there. I came to understand how much he had adored his own mother [End Page 45] when, with deep emotion, he recounted the long walks he took together with her on the beaches of Alexandria in front of their house by the sea.

He liked to be by himself near the sea and always selected houses that were remote and isolated, whether on Capri, Levanto, or Elba, perhaps to rediscover the same Mediterranean landscapes and relive his childhood: his mother, his father, his brother Leone, who had died so young. Capri became our special island, and papà termed it “the reclining chair of the Mediterranean.” Every time we approached it together on the steamer I could sense by his very words that his poetic vigor was being magically infused with the Mediterranean sun of his childhood, and my childish mind was filled with turbulence, love, poetry, and beauty.

At Capri, when not writing, he amused himself by going down with us to Marina Piccola among the rocks and the sea, watching us dive into the water vibrating with sun and color. In the afternoon, after a brief pause for silence and concentration, he invited me to join him in long walks. It was during one of our last stays on Capri that he came along with me to Mount Tiberio on the back of a donkey. From the top of the mountain, where the rocks plunge directly into the sea, we could view the entire gulf of Naples and the coast of Amalfi, and this colorful triumph of nature provoked the most profound emotions. He talked to me about his campaign for the defense of the natural landscape of Capri in the twenties, and he explained to me the fascinating game played by the rocks, which seem so cruel to me, when they plunge straight into the sweet warm sea—and thus he brought me to understand the dangerous and seductive link between life, good, and evil.

We used to stop in Naples in the interval between the arrival of the ferry and the departure of the train, and we spent a great deal of time in Don Gaspare Casella’s bookstore at Largo Castello. Don Gaspare was an intellectual, a collector of manuscripts and autographs, and a publisher. His shop was a meeting place for great minds, a place for intellectual encounters; dropping in at the bookshop-cum-work-shop on any given day, you might see Bontempelli, Bragaglia, Malaparte, Edwin Cerio, or Cangiullo. 2...

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pp. 45-54
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