A powerful collection with many delicacies

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Antonio Tabucchi contributes to a story of time warping. Tabucchi, a Tuscan writer, “made a Lahiri”: he translated from Portuguese and then wrote books in that language. In its history, from its Italian period, it was perhaps influenced by the film of Picnic at Hanging Rock; when he came to melbourne years ago he set off at full speed to see Hanging Rock country. Its story is not as successful as the movie.

It is unfortunate that no place has been found for Giorgio Bassani, a master of short fiction, and the incisive Leonardo Sciascia is represented by what is only one great story. This may have been included to add a bit of humor, which is rare elsewhere except for Ennio Flaiano’s story of a Martian landing in Rome. First of all, it receives overwhelming media attention but ends up being the butt of raspberries.

The translations seem to catch nuances but, in my opinion, there are a few flaws, as happens at the end of one of Cespedes’ best Alba stories. Dinner invitation. Set in Rome in the aftermath of World War II, it concerns a well-to-do couple who, although not spared by war, know they are much luckier than many others. Their only big worry is that they have lost all contact with the husband’s brother in northern Italy.

However, he is found and a friendly captain of the English army drives him to Rome. The four have a celebratory domestic meal in which the couple flaunts their finery. Everything is going wonderfully and the Englishman feels among friends. As a result, he explains that Italy must wait before being accepted by other nations. The narrator does not say anything but seethes with anger because she is aware of the sufferings suffered during the war by their anti-fascist friends and a large part of the population as well as of Italy’s cultural contribution to the world.

The guest leaves and she says to her husband and her brother-in-law “Good night, guys”. For me, “guys” introduced a jarring American twang into what was a misunderstanding between Europeans. Such disagreements are rare, as are editing errors in what is an excellent anthology.


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