Easy being a princess...

(Solfanelli Editore - Chieti)

Translation from Russian: Alfredo Bertollo
Literary review : Pier Luigi Coda


The cover of the original Russian book
The text itself is the biography of Princess Mafalda of Savoy Hesse, and so far there is nothing special: there is an extensive bibliography on the princess. Roam around Internet will find dozens and dozens of "posted". Everything is easily understandable. The personal story of Mafalda, with its desperate epilogue, grafted in the historical/political context of Italy in one of the most controversial and tragic time that it has been experiencing not only the nation but the entire world. The debate is still on, and sometimes ideological speculations fuel further flames.
But the tragedy of Mafalda is something which is not affected by political or historical passions, is overwhelming in its dramatic nature, in its humanity, in the epic quality of its theatrical disaster. It is a fact of all that falls inside and shakes the conscience, without any creed or political persuasion. You may be suddenly fallen bewitched, as I suppose it happened to the author, the Russian writer Ninel Podgornja Ivanovna.

Mafalda of Savoy Hesse

Illustrations from the original Russian book

Illustrations from the original Russian book

The villa Polyxena in Rome
Of her book I like to emphasize two aspects: the first is the extraordinary coincidences that have generated it: the inevitability of the circumstances under which "if something should happen, happens." The second, the amazing universality of a story that descends from History into the depths of Life to embrace the tension of the soul and heart into a coherent whole that beats inside the aberrant frame of the war and Nazi atrocities.     
The extraordinary coincidences
 It seems odd that a young lady of Communist Russia (we are in the middle of the Cold War) has wanted to write a biography of Mafalda of Savoy Hesse. Yet that's what happened, it just had to go that way. Ninel Podgornaja Ivanovna, was in the service of the Soviet Communist Party as an interpreter, and was in charge of distributing advertising materials of regime to foreign sailors calling at a port in the Black Sea to transport oil. There she meets Captain Mario, a seaman of Capri, still sick with longing for the colors of the Mediterranean, for his wife away for the island with the beautiful villa of a princess with big eyes who died in Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald.

The Landgrave Maurice of Hesse, son of Mafalda

Castle Adolfsek today Fasanerie
He has a son missing in the Russian campaign, Captain Mario, and maybe even this tenuous geo filament increases their feeling overcoming  language difficulties  sometime with gestures and sometime with bad English.
The Podgornaja wonders how it was possible that the wife of the Landgrave of Hesse and daughter of the King of Italy had died in a Nazi concentration camp. Obviously unable to get answers, the press of Soviet regime has other things to do and write than deal with peerage of Savoy and Hesse. Podgornaja herself will think to find documentation and deepening the facts  during her stays in the West at the end of the Cold War, after the walls, like all ephemeral barriers of history, collapse and become debris.

The universality of the story
It is easy to recall the tragedies of Euripides and Shakespeare, from a cynical and theatrical point of view there are all the ingredients and the set design of war increases the pathos. Mafalda is at the mercy of herself, the events define and tell the epilogue. Once again history has written a script of extraordinary humanity. The tragedy of Princess Mafalda grafted into the drama of the world without any geographical border and for this, the Podgornaja decides to tell it even in the Russian-speaking countries to spread the knowledge without political preconceptions.

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