Michela Marzano
Michela Marzano (Photo: MEDEF via WikiCommons CC BY-SA 2.0)

Born in Rome in 1970, Michela Marzano is an Italian philosopher, politician, and prolific writer based in France. She received her PhD from the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa before moving to Paris. She is Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Paris V René Descartes and a regular contributor to Italian leading newspapers, such as La Repubblica and La Stampa. In 2013, she was elected to the Italian Parliament for a party oriented to the left; however, she did not run for the elections in 2018 and she is not currently affiliated to a political party. She regularly interacts with her followers on several social media platforms and her blog.

Marzano’s popular autobiography Volevo essere una farfalla (2011) marked her entry into contemporary Italian women’s writing. It was followed by the Bancarella literary prize in 2014 with L’amore è tutto. È tutto ciò che so dell’amore (2013), a stream of consciousness narrative focusing on her interpersonal relationships and how they have influenced her experiences as a woman.

Since the beginning of her academic and literary career she has experimented with different genres, ranging from scholarly essays to essays on topical issues that appeal to a wide readership, to autobiography and fiction, and has written on a variety of subjects. As an academic, her main research interests are moral philosophy and ethics: published in French, her work focuses in particular on the body − Penser le corps (2002), La philosophie du corps (2007), and Dictionnaire du corps (2007) − and pornography − Alice au pays du porno (2005) and Malaise dans la sexualité (2006). Some of the essays originally written in French have been translated into Italian and Spanish.

The body seems to be the common denominator of her output, both philosophical and narrative. In Volevo essere una farfalla she reveals her life-long battle with anorexia nervosa and the difficult journey to overcome her illness, sending a message of hope to all women battling with eating disorders. Volevo essere una farfalla is a ground-breaking text, where her philosophical knowledge of the body is combined with her personal experience as a present-day woman; furthermore, in this book for the first time an acclaimed academic describes her eating disorder, a subject that has been explored by women writers before, but never so directly. This autobiography is one of the few examples in contemporary Italian women’s writing where different interpretations of anorexia are brought together to explain the pathology in its entirety: scientifically and personally.

In 2010 Marzano published Sii bella e stai zitta. Perché l’Italia di oggi offende le donne, a full account of the social constrictions and contradictions imposed on Italian women in contemporary times, shedding new light on the cultural regression of Italian women in Berlusconi’s age. She talks extensively about women’s bodies and how they have become a public battleground, taking forward the debate on the burkini which sparked in Europe, and particularly in France, in the summer of 2016. Mamma, papà e gender (2015), a reflection on the ‘no-gender-ideology’ debate which is currently raging in Italian society, was followed by two novels, L’amore che mi resta (2017) and Idda (2019), dealing with identity and family relationships, especially between women. Her latest publication, Stirpe e vergogna (2021), focuses on her experience with her fascist grandfather and on her reaction and compromises after discovering his troubling past.

Compiled by Francesca Calamita (Virginia)



Volevo essere una farfalla. Come l’anoressia mi ha insegnato a vivere (Milan: Mondadori, 2011)

L’amore è tutto. È tutto ciò che so dell’amore (Turin: UTET, 2013)

L’amore che mi resta (Turin: Einaudi, 2017)

Idda (Turin: Einaudi, 2019)

Stirpe e vergogna (Milan: Rizzoli, 2021)


In Italian

Straniero nel corpo. La passione e gli intrighi della ragione (Milan: Giuffrè, 2004)

Sii bella e stai zitta. Perché l’Italia di oggi offende le donne (Milan: Mondadori, 2010)

Cosa fare delle nostre ferite. La fiducia e l’accettazione dell’altro (Trento: Erickson, 2011)

Il diritto di essere io (Bari: Laterza, 2014)

[with Giovanna Casadio]: Non seguire il mondo come va. Rabbia, coraggio, speranza e altre emozioni politiche (Turin: UTET, 2015)

Papà, mamma e gender (Turin: UTET, 2015)

[et al.]: Uomini e donne (Padua: Edizioni Il Messaggero, 2020)

In French

Penser le corps (Paris: PUF, 2002)

La Pornographie ou l’épuisement du désir (Paris: Buchet/Chastel, 2003)

La Fidélité ou l’amour à vif (Paris: Buchet/Chastel, 2005)

Alice au pays du porno [with Claude Rozier] (Paris: Ramsay, 2005)

Ovidie and Michela Marzano: Films X: Y jouer ou y être: le corps acteurOvidie. En entretien avec Michela Marzano (Paris: Autrement, 2005)

Je consens, donc je suis… Éthique de l’autonomie (Paris: PUF, 2006)

Malaise dans la sexualité (Paris: Éditions Jean-Claude Lattès, 2006)

La Philosophie du corps (Paris: PUF, 2007)

Dictionnaire du corps (Paris: PUF, 2007)

La Mort spectacle (Paris: Gallimard, 2007)

L’Éthique appliquée (Paris: PUF, 2008)

Extension du domaine de la manipulationde l’entreprise à la vie privée (Paris: Grasset, 2008)

Visage de la peur (Paris: PUF, 2009)

Le Fascisme. Un encombrant retour? (Paris: Larousse, 2009)

Le Contrat de défiance (Paris: Grasset, 2011)

Le Dictionnaire de la violence (Paris: PUF, 2011)

Translations into Foreign Languages

From Italian into French

Légère comme un papillon [Translation of Volevo essere una farfalla by Camille Paul] (Paris: Grasset, 2012)

Tout ce que je sais de l’amour [Translation of L’amore è tutto. È tutto ciò che so dell’amore by unknown translator] (Paris: Éditions Stock, 2014)

L’Amour qui me reste: Roman (Translation of L’amore che mi resta by Lise Caillat, revised and adapted by the author] (Paris: Grasset, 2018)

From French into Italian

La fine del desiderio: riflessioni sulla pornografia [Translation of La Pornographie ou l’épuisement du désir by Davide Frontini] (Milan: Mondadori, 2012).

Gli assassini del pensiero. Manipolazioni fasciste di ieri e di oggi [Translation of Le Fascisme: un encombrant retour? by Riccardo Mazzeo] (Trento: Erickson, 2012)

Avere fiducia. Perché è necessario credere negli altri [Translation of Le Contrat de défiance by Francesca Mazzurana] (Milan: Mondadori, 2012)

La filosofia del corpo [Translation of La Philosophie du corps by Sergio Crapiz] (Genoa: Il Nuovo Melangolo, 2010)

Etica Oggi. Fecondazione eterologa, ‘guerra giusta’, nuova morale sessuale e altre questioni contemporanee [Translation of L’Éthique appliquée by Riccardo Mazzeo] (Trento: Erickson, 2011)

Estensione del dominio della manipolazione. Dalla azienda alla vita privata [Translation of Extension du domaine de la manipulation by Beatrice Magni] (Milan: Mondadori, 2009)

La fedeltà o il vero amore [Translation of La Fidélité ou l’amour à vif by Sergio Crapiz] (Genoa: Il Nuovo Melangolo, 2011)

From French into Spanish

La pornografia o el agotamiento del deseo [Translation of La Pornographie ou l’épuisement du désir by Víctor Goldstein] (Buenos Aires: Manantial, 2006)

La fidelidad o el amor al desnudo [Translation of La Fidélité ou l’amour à vif by Adela Gato] (Valencia: Diàlogo‒Editiones Tilde, 2008)

Consiento, luego existo [Translation of Je consens, donc je suis… Éthique de l’autonomie by Judith Cobeña i Guàrdia] (Barcelona: Proteus, 2009)

Qué es la ética aplicada [Translation of L’Éthique appliquée by Judith Cobeña i Guàrdia] (Barcelona: Proteus, 2009)

La muerte como espectáculo [Translation of La Mort spectacle by Núria Viver Barri] (Barcelona: Tusquets, 2010)

Programados para triunfar. Nuevo capitalismo, gestión empresarial y vida privada, [Translation of Extension du domaine de la manipulation de l’enteprise à la vie privée by Núria Viver Barri] (Barcelona: Tusquets, 2011)


Aresi, Anna: ‘The Fine Line: Narratives of Recovery from Anorexia in Italian and American Memoirs’ in Starvation, Food Obsession and Identity: Eating Disorders in Contemporary Women’s Writing ed. by Petra M. Bagley, Francesca Calamita, and Kathryn Robson (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2018, pp. 235-255)

Calamita, Francesca: ‘Michela Marzano’s Volevo essere una farfallaCome l’anoressia mi ha insegnato a vivere’ (La Libellula – Rivista di Italianistica, 4, December 2012, pp. 143-144)

—: Linguaggi dell’esperienza femminile. Disturbi alimentari, donne e scrittura dall’Unità al miracolo economico (Padua: Il Poligrafo, 2015: ‘Introduzione’, pp. 13-19, and ‘Conclusioni’, pp. 189-210)

—: ‘On the Verge of Emotional Hunger: Anorexia, Bulimia and Interpersonal Relationships in Present-day Italian Women’s Writing’ in Starvation, Food Obsession and Identity: Eating Disorders in Contemporary Women’s Writing ed. by Petra M. Bagley, Francesca Calamita, and Kathryn Robson (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2018, pp. 67-89)

D’Alessandro, Ruggero: Tre donne a Parigi. Simone De Beauvoir Julia Kristeva Michela Marzano. Studi sul pensiero femminile 2 (Sesto San Giovanni, Milan: Mimesis, 2016)

Interviews/in the Media

Bignardi, Daria: ‘L’intervista a Michela Marzano’ (Le invasioni barbariche. LA7, 3 March 2012, 24 mins) available online at https://www.la7.it/le-invasioni-barbariche/video/lintervista-a-michela-marzano-03-03-2012-95962

Santerini, Giulia: ‘“Stirpe e vergogna”, Marzano: «Io ho fatto i conti con un nonno fascista, l’Italia col suo passato no»’ (la Repubblica: ‘L’Incontro’, 6 October 2021, video interview, 16.48 mins) available online at: https://video.repubblica.it/cronaca/fascismi-di-oggi-michela-marzano-l-italia-dell-odio-non-ha-fatto-i-conti-col-proprio-passato/397982/398694?ref=RHTP-BH-I0-P1-S2-T1

Spagnuolo Lobb, Margherita: ‘L’esperienza adolescenziale nella società post-moderna. Intervista a Michela Marzano’ (Quaderni di Gestalt, 2, 2016, pp. 11-18)