on June 25, 2016
When the mailman delivered to me this first volume of the monumental Garzilli’s 9 vols. work on the great Italian orientalist Giuseppe Tucci, I remember I was eager to read it as soon as possible. But, alas!, several work commitments kept me far from my intentions… since last week!
I’ve therefore taken my time to go with the due attention through all its pages: introduction, photographic material, the two main chapters (one dealing with Tucci’s youth and the other with his expeditions in Asia and the figure of Carlo Formichi) and even the bibliography.
Well… I’ve literally devoured it!!
As an enthusiast of Oriental studies and as an Italian, I’ve since ever been interested in Tucci’s life and works. Yet, if his books and articles still are at our disposal, for obvious reasons his file is not, and only one who knew him and his friends, acquaintances and colleagues in person, one like Enrica Garzilli, can better tell us the many facets of Tucci’s character: not only the international scholar, but also the Italian professor, the adventurer, the husband, the play-boy… in a word, that incredible man he was, loved by some, loathed by others.
The true spirit of Garzilli’s book, I must say, lies in the fact that it’s not a mere collection of episodes of Tucci’s life or a, so to speak, simple research concerned with what Tucci did, where he went, whom he met with. Not at all! This book, on the contrary, is an actual landscape. Garzilli, page after page, while thoroughly expounding the results of her delving into documents and direct witnesses, accompanies us into Tucci’s world. So, without even noticing this is happening, at a certain point we for instance begin to see before our eyes the sunny and gentle hills of central Italy, where Tucci spent his youth between classical studies and first wrintings. We find ourselves, then, surrounded by the bustling city life, when Tucci moved to Rome, first as a university student and then as an ambitious professor during the fascist period. We perceive the moist heat, we hear the sound of exotic animals, we guess the smell of spices mixed with the stench on the edge of some roads, during Tucci's journeys through India and Nepal, together with his friend and teacher Formichi, eager to find manuscripts in whatever language and on almost whatever subject, so vast was his horizon of interests and so far could his curiosity bring him.
This book is the first stage of a travel through the life of a special man, a journey in which we readers are Tucci's travelmates.
If you ask me then whether or not in my opinion Garzilli’s book is worth reading, my answer is: I can’t wait for the next volume to be published!