on December 23, 1998
Sicily as Metaphor provides an intriguing window on the memories, creativity, and political dimensions of Leonardo Sciascia, one of Sicily's (and perhaps the world's) most gifted writers and intellectuals. Sciascia's compact, wickedly satirical novels remind one of Hemingway and Swift. Sciascia's real influences, however, were French writers, particularly Stendahl, and various Italian writers unfamiliar to me.
This slim, 143-page book amounts to an extended transcript of an interview of Sciascia conducted in the late 70s by the French journalist Marcelle Padovani. There is much discussion of communism and socialism by the activist Sciascia. The brand of politics discussed is a particular European obsession to which non-Europeans may not be able to relate, but which is important to an understanding of Sciascia's personal history and point of view. The discussion of the Red Brigades terrorist group and its kidnapping of Aldo Moro, about which Sciascia wrote, was quite interesting, particularly in light of the recent analysis of the kidnapping in Peter Robb's excellent memoir/mafia history, Midnight in Sicily, which more or less blamed political motivations for the Italian government's failure to rescue its president.
This book requires more than a glancing knowledge of Italian politics and Italian and French literature to be easily understandable; however, for those in search of further knowledge, I can't imagine getting better advice on what to read than from the late, great Leonardo Sciascia. There are few books in English that admirers of Sciascia can turn to for insights into his work, which makes Sicily as Metaphor a truly unique and valuable resource.