20 dic. 2008


Leonardo Sciascia. Todo modo. 1974. 124 pp.

The title is in Spanish though the novel is in Italian. The narrator, a famous painter, turns up at an inn/hermitage by accident right before some "spiritual excercises" are going to take place, led by the cynical and erudite priest don Gaetano. The attendees are prominent politicians, churchmen, and industrialists--and a few of their mistresses! The title refers to a quote by Ignacio de Loyola, founder of the Jesuits and author of a famous book of spiritual exercises. There is a lot of erudite banter between the nameless narrator and don Gaetano. Then a series of murders of the prominent "ospiti." There are some desultory attempts to solve them, but then the lead investigator simply gives up and lets everyone go home, on the theory that if he lets them stay until he finds the murderer, more murders will take place! There are some obligatory references to Agatha Christie: apparently all of them have motives to off all the rest of them.

It's a novel of ideas rather than of plot--hence the concluding fizzle. The only memorable character is don Gaetano himself, and he is memorable more for his ideas than for his personality or actions. The erudition would be interesting except that it is simply the erudition of the author, placed in the character's mouth. I could have a fictional fisherman quote Mallarmé too, but it would still be me who knows the Mallarmé, not the cardboard fisherman.

The church is the "raft of Medusa." The church can do any evil it wants, since it exists in an evil world, apparently. That's the nihilist priest's philosphy of life.

Not a very good novel, though interesting from the point of view of Italian clericalism/anticlericalism.

I've got to read some better novels. At least this was short and so relatively painless.

My goal is to be able to read Italian poetry. I need to slog through enough novels so I have a decent vocabulary.

1 comentario:

Vance Maverick dijo...

Yeah, I gave Sciascia a good try when living in Italy, partly because a good friend was an admirer, but ultimately didn't make much of him.

Have you read opera librettos? Say the Giacosa/Illica texts for Puccini? The librettistic style of the 19th century is almost a better reference point for poetry (even say Ungaretti) than prose is. It's got its own pronouns, conjugations, etc....