Italian Futurism in Cairo

The Language(s) of Nelson Morpurgo Across the Mediterranean

In: Philological Encounters
Maria Elena Paniconi Università degli Studi di Macerata

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Nelson Morpurgo was born to a Histrian family in Cairo. Raised between Cairo and Milan, he met Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and several other Futurists and, ultimately, helped secure a place for futurism in Cairo from the 1920s through to his departure in the 1940s. He organized theatrical performances, painting exhibitions, radio shows, cultural events and debates. My paper analyzes the cultural and linguistic bilingualism that this interstitial figure developed. Morpurgo’s activity is understood in three different ways: first, as the trans-national experience of a Futurist vanguard; second, as emblematic of the Italian community in Cairo; and third, as representative of the complexities of Egyptian cosmopolitanism. His writings allow us to reframe the relationships between the Egyptian arabophone scene and the often multi-lingual, eclectic foreign community. Morpurgo negotiates a position between the ideologically incongruous cultural lives of Marinetti and the local surrealist vanguard.

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