On 9 June 1892 Bruno Corra, pseudonym of Bruno Ginanni Corradini, was born to an aristocratic family in Ravenna, second of four children. Alongside his elder brother Arnaldo, who was dedicated to artistic studies, he devoted himself to classical studies, deepening his knowledge of the occult sciences and the teachings of Theosophies, Oriental Philosophies, alchemy and other alternative medicines.
In 1910 he attended the universities of Bologna and Florence and later graduated in literature. He wrote his first poems and, together with his brother Arnaldo, published the essays Metodo, Vita nova and Arte dell’avvenire, the latter being considered one of the first theoretical avant-garde texts of the 20th century. In the meantime, together with his brother, he developed experiments with new and different forms of art namely, pictorial, theatrical and cinematographic techniques, aiming to create a fusion between the different art forms. To this end, he also produced some abstract short films and published articles in the Florentine magazine entitled ‘La difesa dell’Arte’.
1912 c.a He met Marinetti in Milan and joined the Futurist Movement. Together with his brother he moved to Florence where he directed the publication of ‘Collezione di saggi critici’ (Collection of critical essays) with Emilio Settimelli. Later, still working with Settimelli and together with Mario Carli, he founded the magazine ‘Il Centauro’ from whose pages he propagated ‘Liberalism’, an ideology that propagated maximum freedom of artistic expression. He wrote the essay ‘Musica cromatica’, published in the volume Il pastore, il gregge e la zampogna. He lived in Paris and London where he then completed his cultural and esoteric education.
In 1913, the Rivista Settimanale d’arte, di scienza e di vita’ (The Weekly Review of Art, Science and Life) was published, edited by Corra and Settimelli in which lines of anti-Crocean and anti-Anti-Antidote criticism were highlighted using a writing style that could be described as pre-surrealist. In the same year, together with Settimelli and with the collaboration of his brother Arnaldo, he took over a theatrical company and staged works by Marinetti and the first futurist theatrical syntheses.
In 1914, he signed the ‘Futurist Manifesto Pesi, misure e prezzi del genio artistico’ The Futurist painter Giacomo Balla, using the surname Corradini, forcefully christened him ‘Corra’ to express the notion of ‘running’, while he used the surname Ginanni for Arnaldo, abbreviated as ‘Ginna’ to express the concept of ‘gymnastics’. A group of intellectual futurist artists formed around Ginna and Corra, giving rise to the so-called ‘Second Florentine Futurism’ also known as ‘Pattuglia Azzurra’.
In 1915, he took part in interventionist demonstrations and was arrested in Rome with Marinetti and Mussolini. He then signed the Manifesto of the Synthetic Futurist Theatre and published the futurist synthetic novel Sam Dunn is Dead, which today is considered his masterpiece.
In 1916, he founded the periodical ‘L’Italia futurista’ in Florence with Settimelli, Carli, Chiti and Ginna. In the same year, he participated in the making of the film Vita futurista directed by his brother and later endorsed the Manifesto of Futurist Cinematography. He also participated in the drafting of the manifesto La scienza futurista (Futurist Science). He published the collection of poems Con mani di vetro (With Glass Hands).
In March 1918, he enlisted in the 60th Infantry and departed for the front line. At the end of the war, he moved to Milan and published the escapist novels Io ti amo. Il romanzo dell’amore moderno, Perché ho ucciso mia moglie and together with Marinetti, L’isola dei baci. By the end of the year, the publications of ‘Italia Futurista’ came to an end.
In 1919, he published “La famiglia inamorata” and the collection Madrigali e grotteschi. He wrote the preface to Ginna’s collection of short stories Le locomotive con le calze. In Rome he created the periodical Lo Specchio dell’Ora published, with Settimelli, which was close to Fascist ideology. Corra was greatly intrigued by Mussolini’s personality and so he joined the Fascist Party even though he did not take an active role in it.
In 1921, he published the two novels “Femmina bionda” and “Santa Messalina”, which took on a less futurist, more traditional stance.
In 1922, he dedicated the work The Blood Drinkers to Mussolini. He then published “Il Toro” which is a romantic novel of love and adventure in the time of the Borgia and the collection “L’uomo che guariva le donne”.
In 1924 – 1934 ,with much controversy,he breaks away from Futurism due to the failure of the ‘Baracca’ project, a futurist travelling theatre, which Marinetti renounced to, in order to devote himself more to the political aspect of the movement. Despite this, Corra continued to occasionally collaborate with Futurist artists and Marinetti in the following years. His copious production of novels, while retaining some innovative and interesting aspects, is increasingly oriented towards appendix literature, commercial needs and the quest for success among wide audiences. In this respect, we can recall Sanya, The Egyptian Wife. The Novel of the Modern Orient of 1927 and Il Passatore of 1929,
1935 c. During one of his frequent trips to Cairo he met Grazia Burges, whom he later married and with whom he moved to Varese. He started working for the theatre again, achieving considerable success with the dramas written together with Giuseppe Achille entitled; “Inventiamo l’amore”, “Traversata near”, and “Il pozzo dei miracoli”.
1936 c. Together with his brother Ginna and the musician Francesco Balilla Pratella, with whom he had already unsuccessfully tackled a first attempt at sound films around 1930, he worked on a musical film based on his subject Balilla e Tonietta. Despite the novelties proposed with this topic in particular with the screenplay, and the possible scenic rendering of the film and the soundtrack, the work is eventually rejected by the Direzione Generale della Cinematografia.
In 1938, along with Marinetti, he signs the manifesto Against dead theatre, which is a protest against analytical novels and musical negrism.
1939 – 1952 Some of his novels and plays are chosen for film adaptations. The films “Inventiamo l’amore” (Let’s Invent Love), “Traversata nera” (Black Crossing), “Il passatore” (The Passenger) and “Inganno” (Deception), for which he also wrote the screenplay, were created on a subject by Bruno Corra. In 1951, his wife died of pneumonia. From that moment on, his narrative production was gradually interrupted and the writer became increasingly isolated from the Italian cultural world.
In 1967, the Avant-garde historian Mario Verdone dedicated an in-depth essay to Corra and Ginna’s futurist works in the magazine Bianco e Nero, republished in 1968 with a single issue named Cinema and Literature of Futurism.
In 1970, Einaudi republished his novel Sam Dunn is Dead, but, despite the interest that was awakened around the Futurist Movement and his role as one of the greatest men of letters, Corra always remained a prisoner of his intentional isolation.
Bruno Corra died in Varese at the age of 84 on 20 November 1976.
Text by Lavinia Russo, supervision by Lucia Collarile.