Critical Context

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 168

Arturo’s Island is considered to be Elsa Morante’s most important novel. It was awarded the 1957 Strega Prize and received worldwide critical acclaim. The novel marks Morante’s entrance into the small corps of Italian narrators who address the psychological problems associated with the adolescent child. While her theories on these problems are not new, they do represent a woman’s sensibilities and sensitivities. More important, Morante has the ability to infuse her works with a lyrical, poetic quality which does not detract from, but rather enhances, the realism that is at the core of her novels. Her characters move within a world of reality surrounded by a mythological aura.

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Arturo’s Island is important for two reasons: First, it delves into the minds of young people to examine what their fantasy world is like and why they create such a world, and second, it is a strong and early example of a novelist easily and naturally dealing with the extremely difficult topics of incest and homosexuality.

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