In 1983, the fiercely polemical grand provocateur Carmelo Bene wrote I Appeared to the Madonna, a kind of ars poetica and chronicle of his life, self-described as very risky, imaginary, and at the same time real.
The work is founded on Bene’s concepts of non-being, abandonment, and lack. As Piergiorgio Giacchè noted, “the phrase ‘I appeared to the Madonna’ was never a saying but a doing of Bene’s, an event that marked the body of his actor and the corpus of his works: appearing to Our Lady has become an addition to his grace and the accomplishment of his genius.”
Less factual autobiography and more autobiographical poem, I Appeared to the Madonna tests the limits of lyric versification while its prose, just as Bene’s films, is not writing alone but a form of music.
This incendiary testament of Bene’s life includes tales of his combative encounters with critics, the public, and his iconoclastic views on theater, cinema, poetry & more, including chapters on Salvador Dalì, Eduardo De Filippo, and Jules Laforgue as well as anecdotal elucidations of some of his plays and films.
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