Sicilian literature: historical heritage and cultural patrimony

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Sicilian literature: historical heritage and cultural patrimony

January 27, Agrigento

“Every writer tells about the time he lives. Sicilian writers, all linked by a long tradition, have made the island the protagonist of their works, each one telling one of the hundred Sicilies”.


Verga, Pirandello, De Roberto and Tomasi, and then Sciascia, Consolo, Bufalino and Camilleri, thanks to them and to many others no longer remembered as they should be – I am thinking, for example, of Maria Messina, Antonio Russello and Antonio Castelli – Sicily has become the object of their thought and, of course, everything that revolves around the island, starting from its history, traditions and folklore. Being Sicilian has been very influential in literature.

“Their culture still lives today and influences us, just think of all the times we say, even to justify our behaviors, our failings and our mistakes: this is Pirandellian or this is Sciascian or, even worse, “change everything to change nothing”, quoting the pages of the eternal “Leopard”.

Each writer is then different from the other. The civil commitment that is in Leonardo Sciascia is not found in Gesualdo Bufalino, who is more romantic. And Andrea Camilleri, who taught us to look at a different Sicily from that of “Giorno della civetta”: far from the stereotypes linked to his land, his Montalbano remains in Sicily, reacts, has his successes, obtains justice. Far, far from Verga, who gives his characters no hope, no one can improve their social condition.
However, Sicily without these voices would certainly be very different. Indeed, it would not be Sicily.

This tradition of writers, this line that unites them all, has been essential in the history of the island and its inhabitants: it has played a significant role for centuries in consolidating the appearance of the vices and virtues of Sicilianity promoted as a cultural deposit of the island. An example is the famous novel “Il Gattopardo” (The Leopard) by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, which had an extraordinary success and from which Luchino Visconti made the famous movie. And not only that, the same literature has contributed to the redemption of the dialect that many up to Camilleri were reluctant to introduce in the pages of their stories.

Andrea Camilleri marks a return, for the general public of readers, to the roots of the language as a tradition not to be lost, even demonstrating that it can be understood even in the northern regions. He even invents a language, that of Vigata, as opposed to the poet Nino De Vita who instead preserves and digs into the roots of a language restricted to a district of Marsala.

Today, things have changed a bit from that generation. “We have writers and especially women writers of great value. I’m thinking of Nadia Terranova, who has roots in the land and fabulous sea of Colapesce, Simonetta Agnello Hornby, Giuseppina Torregrossa, Evelina Santangelo, Stefania Auci.” They are telling us a different face of Sicily. And then there are authors such as Santo Piazzese and Roberto Alajmo, and Gaetano Savatteri, impregnated by the pages of Sciascia and Camilleri, but autonomous in telling with his detective series Makari, a beautiful and welcoming Sicily, modern and in step with the times. Bringing it back, in a sense, to everyday life, to the time we live. “With Sicily, of course, always the protagonist”.

Credit to: Silvio Picone, consulente della “Strada degli scrittori”
www.stradadegliscrittori.com