Edith Bruck

Biography

Edith Bruck
Edith Bruck photographed by © Gabriella Romani

Edith Bruck (née Edith Steinschreiber) was born on 3 May 1931 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 WW2, 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, 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 13 novels and several books of poems. While most of her literary production has been devoted to Holocaust testimony, she has also written several novels about her tumultuous and long-lasting relationship with the poet Nelo Risi ― Mio splendido disastro (1979), L’amore offeso (2002), La rondine sul termosifone (2017), and Ti lascio dormire (2019) ― while Il silenzio degli amanti (1997) revolves 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 the Teatro Quirinale.

Bruck was one of the founders of the Teatro della Maddalena in Rome, where Mara, Maria, Marianna (co-written with Dacia Maraini and Maricla Boggio) opened in 1974, followed in the subsequent year by Per il tuo bene. She worked for RAI from the 1970s until the 1990s as director and screenwriter. She directed the films: Improvviso (1979), starring Valeria Moriconi 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 wrote the screenplays 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. In 2014, director Roberto Faenza turned Bruck’s novel Quanta stella c’è nel cielo (2009) into a film entitled Anita B.  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.

As a poet, Bruck has produced several volumes, including Itinerario (1998), Versi vissuti (2018), and Tempi (2021), and translated poetry by Illyés Gyula, Jòzsef Attila, and Miklós Radnóti from Hungarian into Italian, and by Ruth Feldmanfrom English into Italian. Bruck’s own work has been translated into Hungarian as well as English, French, German, Danish, and Dutch. The winner of several literary prizes (Premio Rapallo Carige [1989] for Lettera alla madre, Premio Viareggio [2009] for Quanta stella c’è nel cielo, and Premio Strega giovani [2021] for Il pane perduto), Edith Bruck has gained national and international recognition for her writings in Holocaust testimony and, more generally, in contemporary Italian literature. In 2018 she received a laurea honoris causa in Communication and Journalism from the University of Roma Tre, and in 2019 the University of Macerata awarded her a laurea honoris causa in Modern Philology. Among other honours, in 2021 she received the Cavalieriato di Gran Croce, conferred by the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella.  

Compiled by Gabriella Romani (Seton Hall University)
Updated October 2021

Bibliography

Prose: Novels, Short Stories, and Memoirs

Chi ti ama così (Milan: Lerici, 1959)

Andremo in città (Milan: Lerici, 1962)

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

Le sacre nozze (Milan: Longanesi, 1969)

Due stanze vuote (Venice: Marsilio, 1974)

Transit (Milan: Bompiani, 1978)

Mio splendido disastro (Milan: Bompiani, 1979)

Lettera alla madre (Milan: Garzanti, 1988)

Nuda proprietà (Venice: Marsilio, 1993)

L’attrice (Venice: Marsilio, 1995)

Il silenzio degli amanti (Venice: Marsilio, 1997)

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

L’amore offeso (Venice: Marsilio, 2002)

Lettera da Francoforte (Venice: Marsilio, 2004)

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

Privato (Milan: Garzanti, 2010)

La donna dal cappotto verde (Milan: Garzanti, 2012)

Il sogno rapito (Milan: Garzanti, 2014)

La rondine sul termosifone (Milan: La nave di Teseo, 2017)

Ti lascio dormire (Milan: La nave di Teseo, 2019)

Il pane perduto (Milan: La nave di Teseo, 2021)
 

Poetry

Il tatuaggio (Parma: Guanda, 1975)

In difesa del padre (Milan: Guanda, 1980)

Monologo (Milan: Garzanti, 1990)

Itinerario: Poesie scelte (Rome: Quasar, 1995)

Specchi (Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2005)

Versi vissuti. Poesie (1975-1990) ed. by Michela Meschini (Macerata: EUM, 2018)

Tempi (Milan: La nave di Teseo, 2021)
 

Theatre Plays

Sulla porta (1971). Text available online at https://www.ateatro.info/copioni/sulla-porta/
 

English Translations of Bruck’s Work

Who Loves You Like This [Translation of Chi ti ama così by Thomas Kelso] (Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books, 2001)

Letter to My Mother [Translation of Lettera alla madre by Brenda Webster and Gabriella Romani] (New York: MLA Texts and Translations, 2006)

‘Edith Bruck. Poems. From In difesa del padre’ [Translation by Philip Balma] (Italian Poetry Review, 3, 2008, pp. 277-287)
 

Translations into Italian by Bruck of English and Hungarian Poetry

(with Nelo Risi) Illyés Gyula: Két Kéz: (due mani) (Milan: All’insegna del pesce d’oro, 1966)

Poesie di Ruth Feldman (Florence: Giuntina, 1981)

Jòzsef Attila: Poesie 1922-1937 (Milan: Mondadori, 2002)

Miklós Radnóti: Mi capirebbero le scimmie (Rome: Donzelli, 2009)


Compiled by Gabriella Romani (Seton Hall University)
Updated October 2021

 

Criticism

Balma, Philip: ‘Passing Through Language(s): Translating a Poem by Edith Bruck’ (Translation Review, 69, 2005, pp. 63-65)

—: ‘Edith Bruck’s Experience in Italy: Publishing, Cinema, and Thematic Ghetto’ in Contemporary Jewish Writers in Italy: a Generational Approach/Scrittori italiani di origine ebrea ieri e oggi: un approccio generazionale ed. by Raniero Speelman, Monica Jansen, and Silvia Gaiga (Utrecht: Utrecht Publishing and Archiving Services, 2007, pp. 107-113)

—: ‘È Natale, vado a vedere’ (Italica, 86.3, 2009, pp. 534-538)

—: Edith Bruck in the Mirror: Fictional Transitions and Cinematic Narratives (West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 2014)

—: ‘Edith Bruck’s Poetry in/and the New Millennium’ (Italica, 97.3, 2020, pp. 623-632)

Cecchini, Fabiana: ‘Forging Female Identity: From Transnational to Italian, Edith Bruck’s Italianness’ in Representations of Female Identity in Italy: From Neoclassism to the 21st Century ed. by Silvia Giovanardi Byer and Fabiana Cecchini (Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017, pp. 187-204)

Ciccarelli, Andrea: ‘Frontier, Exile, and Migration in the Contemporary Italian Novel’ in The Cambridge Companion to the Italian Novel ed. by Peter Bondanella and Andrea Ciccarelli (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 197-213)

Clementi, Federica K.: Re-centering the Mother: Shoah Autobiography in Ruth Klüger, Edith Bruck, Sarah Kofman, PhD dissertation (City University of New York, 2008)

—: ‘Edith Bruck’s Dead Letters’ in Holocaust Mothers and Daughters. Family, History, and Trauma (Waltham, Massachusetts: Brandeis University Press, 2013, pp. 43-79)

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

Di Sabatino, Guendalina [ed.]: Lettera alla madre: Dal romanzo alla mostra itinerante: 23 artisti incontrano Edith Bruck. Gli studenti del Liceo artistico di Teramo e degli Istituti d'arte di Castelli e di Fermo incontrano Edith Bruck (Teramo: Centro di Cultura delle Donne Hannah Arendt, 2004)

Giorgio, Adalgisa: ‘Strategies for Remembering: Auschwitz, Mother, and Writing in Edith Bruck’ in European Memories of the Second World War ed. by Helmut Peitsch, Chales Burdett, and Claire Gorrara (New York: Berghahn, 1999, pp. 247-255)

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

Guida, Elisa: ‘L’etica del sopravvissuto nell’estetica di Edith Bruck’ (Cuadernos de Filología Italiana 14, 2007, pp. 187-204)

—: La memoria della Shoah nel tempo e nello spazio: il testimone nel 20° secolo attraverso l'esperienza di Edith Bruck e Pietro Terracina, PhD dissertation (Università degli Studi della Tuscia, 2008-2009)

—: ‘Dall’era dei divieti alla memoria del XXI secolo: un percorso nella rappresentazione della Shoah attraverso la poetica di Edith Bruck’ (Cuadernos de Filología Italiana, 18, 2011, pp. 141-159)

Lucamante, Stefania: ‘Non soltanto memoria. La scrittura delle donne della Shoah dal dopoguerra ai giorni nostri’ in Contemporary Jewish Writers in Italy: a Generational Approach/Scrittori italiani di origine ebrea ieri e oggi: un approccio generazionale ed. by Raniero Speelman, Monica Jansen, and Silvia Gaiga (Utrecht: Utrecht Publishing and Archiving Services, 2007, pp. 77-95)

—: ‘The Power of Dignity, Or “Writers Out of Necessity”: The Case of Liana Millu and Edith Bruck’ in Forging Shoah Memories: Italian Women Writers, Jewish Identity, and the Holocaust (New York: Palgrave Macmillan US, 2014, pp. 75-111)

Mottinelli, Enrico: La neve nell’armadio. Auschwitz e la vergogna del mondo. Con una conversazione con Edith Bruck (Florence: Giuntina, 2012)

Nunziante Cesàro, Adele: ‘Edith Bruck: il viaggio nel passato tra memoria e oblio’ in Donne in viaggio: viaggio religioso, politico, metaforico ed. by Maria Luisa Silvestre and Adriana Valerio (Rome-Bari: Laterza, 1999, pp. 231-240)

Petrignani, Sandra: ‘La storia di Edith’ (Il foglio, 30 January 2021)

Picchietti, Virginia: ‘Andremo in città: A Levinasian Witnessing in Edith Bruck’s Short Story and Nelo Risi’s Film’ in Resistance, Heroism, Loss: World War II in Italian Literature and Film ed. by Thomas Cragin and Laura A. Salsini (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2018, pp. 59-80)

Romani, Gabriella: ‘Edith Bruck’s Lettera alla madre: A Dialogue in absentia’ in Women of Letters: Nineteenth- and Twentieth-century Epistolary Novels in Italy, PhD dissertation (University of Pennsylvania, 2000, pp. 137-194)

—: ‘Introduction’ in Edith Bruck: Letter to My Mother [Translation of Lettera alla madre by Brenda Webster and Gabriella Romani] (New York: MLA Texts and Translations Series, 2006, pp. vii-xxii)

—: ‘Scrittrice italiana per caso’ [afterward] in Edith Bruck: Privato (Milan: Garzanti, 2010, pp. 175-185).

Sanfilippo, Marina: ‘Scrittrici e memoria della Shoah: Liana Millu e Edith Bruck’ (Zibaldone. Estudios italianos, 2.2, 2014, pp. 60-71)

Serkowska, Hanna: ‘Edith Bruck tra commemorazione e “liquidazione”’ in Tra storia e immaginazione: Gli scrittori ebrei di lingua italiana si raccontano ed. by Hanna Serkowska (Rabid: Cracow, 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. by Piotr Salwa (Semper: Warsaw, 2009, pp. 80-90)

—: ‘Come si costituisce un testimone? Edith Bruck testimone di vita a vita’ (Laboratoire italien, 24, 2020). Available online at https://journals.openedition.org/laboratoireitalien/4376

Villa, Cristina: ‘La bambola di pietra: Il dolore del ricordo, il ritorno del rimosso, l'incomunicabilità e il silenzio in L’attrice di Edith Bruck’ (Carte Italiane: A Journal of Italian Studies, 1.18, 2003, pp. 83-99). Available online at https://escholarship.org/uc/item/3b37v1z0

—: ‘Perché la Shoah talvolta parla italiano? La letteratura italiana della deportazione razziale nelle opera di Edith Bruck ed Elisa Springer’ in Contemporary Jewish Writers in Italy: a Generational Approach/Scrittori italiani di origine ebrea ieri e oggi: un approccio generazionale ed. by Raniero Speelman, Monica Jansen, and Silvia Gaiga (Utrecht: Utrecht Publishing and Archiving Services, 2007, pp. 97-105)

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

Winkler, David Nathaniel: The Other Consequences of Interpretations: Survivor Literature on Italian Holocaust Memory, PhD dissertation (Indiana University Bloomington, 2016) 
 

Interviews

Balma, Philip: ‘Intervista a Edith Bruck’ (Italian Quarterly, 171-172, 2007, pp. 75-87)

Della Rocca, Roberto and Edith Bruck: ‘Roberto Della Rocca incontra Edith Bruck’ in Per amore della lingua. Incontri con scrittori ebrei ed. by Laura Quercioli Mincer (Rome: Lithos Editrice, 2005, pp. 23-43)

Di Veroli, Elèna Mortara: ‘Ricordi yiddish e scrittura: intervista a Edith Bruck’ (La Rassegna Mensile di Israel, 62.1-2, 1996, pp. 392-412)

Mauceri, Maria Cristina: ‘Edith Bruck, a Translingual Writer Who Found a Home in Italy: An Interview by Maria Cristina Mauceri’ (Italica, 84.2-3, 2007, pp. 606-613)

Ruggeri, Valentina: ‘Intervista con Edith Bruck’ (Laboratoire italien, 24, 2020). Available online at https://journals.openedition.org/laboratoireitalien/4731

Webster, Brenda: ‘An interview with Edith Bruck’ (13th Moon, 11.1-2, 1993, pp. 170-175)
 

Audio-visual Resources

Andreoli, Ivan and Fausto Ciuffi: Dove vi portano gli occhi. A colloquio con Edith Bruck (Modena: Fondazione Villa Emma, 2012), video documentary

Bignardi, Daria: ‘Edith Bruck, Testimone della Shoah’ (Radio Capital, 27 January 2021). https://www.capital.it/programmi/le-mattine-di-radio-capital-pt-2-ora-daria/podcast/podcast-del-27-01-2021-edith-bruck-testimone-della-shoah/

Citoni, Giordana: ‘Testimony Edith Steinschreiber-Bruck’, 12 January 1998 (Los Angeles, CA: USC Shoah Foundation Institute 1994-2017, 1 December 1998), eVideo: Visual History Archive Interview Code: 49036

Fava, Francesca and Maia Giacobbe Borelli: Intervista a Edith Bruck. Progetto Ormete. Donne di teatro a Roma ai tempi della mobilitazione femminista (1965-1985) (2 April 2016), DVD. http://testpo.ormete.net/intervista-a-bruck-edith/

Révész, Lászlo B.:  A látogatás (Budapest, 1982), documentary


Compiled by Gabriella Romani (Seton Hall University)
Updated October 2021