Godfathers and Sons

When a Sicilian speaks of going across the Strait of Messina, he may unguardedly say, “I’m going to Italy,” rather than “to the mainland” or “to the continent,” somewhat as Englishmen often think and speak of the lands across the Channel as “Europe.” Sicilians are offended, however, when an Italian …

Una Grande Calamità

Naples is a bewildering, irritating, bewitching, and deceptive city not only for foreigners (a term which, in Naples, includes all other Italians), but for most Neapolitans too. General Carlo Filangieri (1784-1867), prince of Satriano, duke of Taormina, could be used as an exemplary illustration of how the people themselves feel …

The Bad Tooth

In 1919-1920 Gabriele d’Annunzio occupied the Adriatic port of Fiume—now the Yugoslav city Rijeka—for twenty months. It is easy and tempting now to dismiss this episode as meaningless buffoonery, a grotesque Italian operatic demonstration, a hysterical and almost bloodless heroic-comic show staged by a demented Art Nouveau poet, one more …

The Society of Friends

It is a well-known fact that a Sicilian writer (or a writer about Sicily) finds relatively few difficulties gathering colorful, startling, and tragic material. He simply sits at his table in Palermo or Syracuse and records his own (or his Sicilian friends’) childhood memories, what he happened to hear, café …

The Not So Great Dictator

Perhaps the ruin of Benito Mussolini was Giuseppe Garibaldi, the legendary hero of the Risorgimento. Like Mussolini, Garibaldi was a rough, self-taught, and credulous man of the people; in his youth he had had utopian and confused revolutionary ideas, but, in the end, he rallied to the king and, perhaps …

Bad Dreams

In 1898 Benito Mussolini was a fifteen-year-old boy with a full head of hair. He lived in Forli, a small city of Romagna, a proverbially unruly region, where in every age political passions reached (and still reach) fever heat. A rebellious schoolboy, expelled from one school after another for threatening …

Romance and the Risorgimento

Denis Mack Smith, Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, has dedicated a large part of his professional life to Italy, to Italian history, and, more particularly, to the fateful years between 1848 and 1870, when the country finally managed to be unified under one king and one law.

Dangerous Acquaintances

There is no doubt in my mind that one of the few living Italian novelists of the first rank writing today, perhaps the best of all, is the Sicilian Leonardo Sciascia. This statement is not so bold as it sounds. The competition has lately become weak and scarce. Most well-known …

A Founding Father

A short time ago, in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, after announcing my party’s vote in favor of a Communist proposal for the abolition of movie censorship, I concluded, “It is superfluous to point out that Liberals have been against all kinds of censorship in all countries for centuries, while …

‘The Society of Friends’

It would seem that this generation of Italians was in a unique position to do away with the Mafia once and for all. We can determine its historic origins and social causes, define the conditions in which it flourishes, and should therefore be able at last not merely to prune …