Tag: literature

Mystery novels by Maurizio De Giovanni

Maurizio De Giovanni, an author from Naples, has written many well-received gialli (mystery novels).  He is known for a series set in the 1930s featuring Commissario Ricciardi, a diligent investigator cursed with the supernatural ability to see the last moments of the dead.  This strange, loner detective and his faithful sidekick Maione are brilliantly depicted as is the fascist era in its menace and limitations.  Also playing a vivid role is the city of Naples itself.  Fans of noir fiction should like this bleak series – which has been translated into English.  De Giovanni has also started a new Neapolitan series, this time, set in the present.  The “prequel” Il metodo del coccodrillo (available in English) introduces Ispettore Lojacono, a Sicilian detective transferred to Naples.  The following two novels feature Lojacono and his colleagues at the precinct of Pizzofalcone – a precinct which has a last chance to validate itself to the authorities and is staffed by people with “issues.”  I like this series better:  it’s an Italian police procedural, there are no paranormal phenomena, while grim the plot lines are slightly less dire – there’s even (a little) comedy – and the characters are developing and becoming more three-dimensional.  As always, it’s great to be immersed in the wonderful chaos that is Naples.

Dante’s enduring popularity

An interesting article in Il Sole 24 Ore discusses Dante and his Divina Commedia’s enduring popularity.  Phrases and verses from the Commedia are commonly used in Italy today and many of the characters and situations from the work are well known.  Roberto Benigni’s readings of the Commedia are well-attended and frequently televised.  The article notes that even as interest in Dante studies in universities outside of Italy continues to grow, the opposite is true in Italian universities.  In Italy, rather than in academic settings, Dante lives on in cultural presentations and in everyday life.

I Promessi Sposi, an Italian literary masterpiece

An essay in the Wall Street Journal discusses I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed).   Alessandro Manzoni’s work, which is often called the foremost Italian novel, was first published in 1827 and later revised in 1840.  It is a grand, sweeping, historical novel set in 17th Century Lombardy that follows the adventures and travails of Renzo and Lucia, the couple referred to in the title.  It is still an intrinsic part of Italian culture; many of its characters are often cited and most Italians can quote lines from the novel with some familiarity.