About the poetics of the best Italian authors, Magris and Tabucchi

settembre 15, 2013 in Traduzioni da Anna Zorzi

Articolo di Mario Baldoli tradotto da Anna Zorzi Bandierina-Italiana

At first it was the journey in the Odyssey, the most popular adventure, on  which our  civilization is based. This is what Magris and Tabucchi, the most important and best-known Italian writers abroad, have been saying and writing for long. And the best-selling authors too, if we do not consider  Saviano and Camilleri (his Montalbano’s tv  series is broadcast on English Tv), who are nonetheless famous for a specific literature genre, and the Nobel Prize Dario Fo.

Then it was the generation of Sciascia, Calvino and Pasolini. And now it is the turn of Magris and Tabucchi, whose main works take inspiration out of the journey, as in Danubio  or Girare per le strade. But these two authors have something else in common, besides the theme of the journey seen as the quest of the spirit, they both write essays and  political contributions in newspapers and magazines. Both of them are  committed writers. Tabucchi also wrote many short stories and novels, among which the unforgettable Sostiene Pereira, whose film version starred Marcello Mastroianni.  As in the IliadMagris looks towards East. Born in Trieste, he is the best expert connaisseur of  Central Europe, where all his works are set, starting from the first Il mito absburgico. Tabucchi ‘s perspective is towards West, as in the Odyssey.  Portugal, where he spent most of his life, is the source of inspiration of all his works. Died last year in March, Tabucchi is a challenging author, a man full of doubts and romanticism as well, who trusts his instinct and explores  the reality in the sunset light or its lost charms. Sostiene Pereira could not have been written by anybody  but Tabucchi, because that “Sostiene”  (maintains) in the title warns the reader  that what he is going to read is not the truth.

Magris is more rationalistic and self-controlled, overwhelmed by his own erudition that may be  sometimes bulky and suffocating . His Danubio is  a great book describing a journey from the source  of the river to the mouth: where does the Danube come from? And where the Rhine from? Do they come from the same source? One is a tributary of the other one? It is a matter with no answer yet, and everything is dealt with subtle  irony. Danube is a personal diary too, with the names and the mood of the friends who live in it, it is a learned journey through historical events faraway in the past, men at war, religions in conflict. It is a book on peoples suspecting each others, different languages to be fought for or imposed, a winding geography, like the river.  To crown the huge success of Magris as a writer is the recent publication of some of his most famous works in the series of books I Meridiani  by Mondadori .

At the same time Sellerio has published four acute short stories by Tabucchi again: Donna di Porto Pim, Notturno indiano, I volatili del Beato Angelico, Sogni di sogni.  They are texts ranging from 1983 to ’93 which reveal  the author’s melancholy  and his feeling of irrecoverable loss. His style note-like, his writing of details which mirror  slices of life feeling no necessity to explain everything, the whole surrounded by a culture which is never exhibitionist make him a unique author, an everlasting surprise between journey and dream.

In the prologue of Donna di Porto Pim  Tabucchi expresses his own poetics: books on journeys possess the virtue to offer a theoretical and plausible Somewhere else to our unavoidable and massive Where.

In Donna di Porto Pim , in the description of the Azores, he writes of mountains of fire, of winds and solitude and he gets to know  the last whalers, those fishermen who still chase the whale in two boats, tighten the main sheets and throw the harpoon to catch the biggest mammal in the world. In that atmosphere life and death meet each other. In I volatili del Beato Angelico Tabucchi’s irony reaches its climax:  how difficult it is to commit suicide in Europe!  Unlike in Lisbon, where that happens “correctly and absolutely freely! There is a place there, where you can fly into the space, Christ himself, on the bank of the Tago, looks as if he invites you to the big dive, standing on the board, open-armed . And there is another way,  which is slower and more delicate, it is the saudade (melancholy), a category of the spirit for all those who can wait. I think he would end this short note with his Now melancholy is getting to me, as I expected it would.

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