Vivante, Arturo 1923–2008

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Vivante, Arturo 1923–2008


See index for CA sketch: Born October 17, 1923, in Rome, Italy; died April 1, 2008, in Wellfleet, MA. Physician, educator, translator, short-story writer, novelist, magazine writer, playwright, and poet. Vivante was a master of the short story, but his subject matter was so often and so deeply autobiographical that some readers came to think of his stories as meditations or memoirs in miniature. He built stories around the characters of his philosopher father and artist mother, his childhood in Italy, his brief career as a physician before the muse beckoned and he became a full-time writer. Vivante's Italian childhood was interrupted by World War II, during which time his family moved to England; then Vivante alone was moved by the British to Canada, where he spent a year in confinement as a potential fascist agent. He was eventually released, educated at McGill University in Quebec, and took up a medical practice in Rome, where he met his future wife, an American citizen. Vivante began publishing his stories and articles in American periodicals in the late 1950s. Dozens of his stories appeared in the New Yorker and were later collected into books, but he also contributed to the New York Times and Vogue in the United States, the Guardian and London magazine in England, and other periodicals. He wrote at least two novels, A Goodly Babe (1966) and Doctor Giovanni (1969), and a handful of unpublished plays, but his fiction seemed to work best in the short form. During the 1970s and 1980s Vivante was a frequent writer in residence at universities throughout the United States; in 1990 he accepted a part-time but regular appointment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He continued to write short stories, which have been collected in The French Girls of Killini (1967), Run to the Waterfall (1979), The Tales of Arturo Vivante (1990), and other volumes. He also edited and translated the work of various Italian poets and essayists.



New York Times, April 12, 2008, p. A16.