Morning Star [Stella del mattino] is Wu Ming 4’s first solo novel, originally published in Italian in 2008. Since then, it has been translated into Spanish (Estrella del alba, Acuarela, Madrid, 2012) and French (L’Étoile du matin, Métailié, Paris 2012).
The novel’s main character is Thomas Edward Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, the British liaison officer who during World War I fomented and accompanied the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire. From that experience he drew a ponderous memoir, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, first written in Paris in 1919 and then rewritten between 1919 and 1921, during his stay in Oxford.
Morning Star takes place precisely in that time frame and in that city – with some flashbacks to Arab-Middle Eastern scenarios, since Lawrence’s story is also a sort of prism through which to observe the events of the birth of the Middle East as we know it today.
In that same period three other WW1 veterans were also in Oxford. They would become quite famous in the years to follow.
Robert Graves was already publishing poetry, as an exponent of the so-called War Poets.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was a member of the staff of philologists working on the Oxford English Dictionary.
Clive Staples Lewis, known as Jack, was the youngest and most “complicated”. In the second half of the 1920s he would become Tolkien’s colleague and friend.
Morning Star recounts their encounters – friendly or conflicting, intentional or fortuitous, real or imaginary – with T. E. Lawrence, a very ambiguous and multifaceted character, as well as the first modern pop star, who inspired essays, novels, documentaries and films.
Salwa Khoddam, writer and founder of the the C.S. Lewis and Inklings Society (CSLIS), and Maurizio Vito, a scholar in contemporary Italian literature, translated the novel into English, out of pure passion for its multiple subject matters, with no contract or professional obligation towards any publisher. We decided to make their translation available to our readers.
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Wu Ming 4 is a member of the Wu Ming collective of writers and cultural theorists in Bologna. He co-authored such novels as Q (under the name “Luther Blissett”), 54, Manituana, Altai, The Army of Sleepwalkers and Proletkult. He’s the author of several “solo” books, including two non-fiction works on JRR Tolkien’s literary and cultural legacy. He’s one of the founders of the Associazione Italiana Studi Tolkieniani (AIST) and the editor-in-chief of Quaderni di Arda, a «Review of Tolkien Studies and fantastic worlds».
Salwa Khoddam, born in Lebanon, was educated at the University of Kansas and Oklahoma State University (OSU), USA, obtaining her doctorate in early British Literature at OSU. She was Professor of English for approximately 25 years at Oklahoma City University (OCU), where she taught courses in Classical Mythology, Early British Literature, early Western Literature, and C.S. Lewis.
She has published several poems in The Classical Association CA News. She authored a book on C. S. Lewis’s Narnia series entitled Mythopeic Narnia: Memory, Metaphor, and Metamorphoses in the Chronicles of Narnia (Winged Lion Press, 2013). She published several articles and book reviews on C. S. Lewis and co-edited three anthologies of essays on the Inklings, titled Truths Breathed through Silver: The Inklings’ Moral and Mythopoeic Legacy (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008), C. S. Lewis and the Inklings: Discovering Hidden Truth (CSP, 2012), and C. S. Lewis and the Inklings: Reflections on Faith, Imagination, and Modern Technology (CSP, 2015).
Salwa directed the first annual conference on Lewis in Oklahoma at OCU in 1998, founded the C.S. Lewis and Inklings Society (CSLIS) in 2004, and is its 2017-2018 president. She also directed conferences on Lewis and the Inklings at OCU in 2003 and 2010. She is now Professor Emerita of English and continues with her research, writing, and teaching on a limited basis. Aside from the Inklings, her other interests are Dante, Tasso, and classical mythology.
Maurizio Vito holds a laurea in Philosophy from the University of Verona and a Ph.D. in Italian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. His first book Terra e Mare. Metafore e politica in conflitto was published in 2012. He published extensively both in English and in Italian. Currently, he holds a position as Lecturer at the University of Oklahoma.