Dan Hofstadter

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Selected Works

Nonfiction
Profiles of artists - mostly mid-twentieth century Europeans, including the great French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson
Interconnected narrative essays devoted to five famous French literary love affairs
Memoir of everyday life in Naples

Falling Palace

"There is no shortcut to Naples. Immediate impressions—volcano, islands, architecture, animation—are dramatic. The vibrant beauty of the setting, as Dan Hofstadter says in his beautiful narrative, is itself 'full of expectancy,' suggesting, like Vesuvius, that there is more to come. But the absorption is private and long. Hofstadter, whose addiction to the city began in adolescence, notes the sense of deliverance that Naples confers, relieving us of the modern litany of explanations and our delusions of control; releasing us into the classlessness of understanding. Naples is a millennial capital of perception and imagination: 'a place'—Hofstadter again—'best or perhaps only grasped through myth and memory and half-remembered dream' … Hofstadter's book—free of knowingness, charged with experience—is written with the ease of affection and discovery….it is a story of love for an arcane city and for a girl, Benedetta, who embodies the Neapolitan enigma. The city prevails on every page, in its theatricality, singularity and sagacity, familiarity and formality, erudition and street acuity; its logic and resilience under adversity…. The oddities of Hofstadter's wide range of cronies—utterly remote from the touristic caricature of the Neapolitan as quaint, infantile or exclusively villainous—illustrate the tolerant sociability of the populace…. Speech here runs a wide gamut from highly cultivated Italian with Neapolitan inflections through basic Italian with intensifying degrees of Neapolitan accent sometimes infused with dialect words; to the dialect itself, rapid and undiluted, a tongue in which, as Hofstadter splendidly puts it, 'syllables seem expendable, like the outer leaves of an artichoke.'" – Shirley Hazzard, NY Times