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NÓSTOI LETTERARI – Returns of the author

21-07-2023 11:59

Martina e Rosalba Giacalone

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NÓSTOI LETTERARI – Returns of the author

A Sicilian proverb says: Cu nesci, arrinesci. Anyone who leaves their homeland will surely become someone....

It may happen that, during a work meeting at school, the music of a flute coming from the nearby classroom carries the notes of the theme of the film Nuovo Cinema Paradiso , soundtrack composed by Ennio Morricone. Then, together with her colleagues, she remembers the evocative beauty of the music and then we find ourselves reflecting on the film: a man, after having achieved professional success, returns to his hometown, in Sicily.

A Sicilian proverb says: Cu nesci, arrinesci . Anyone who leaves their homeland will surely become someone.

We can cite many examples of people who left the island to build a future for themselves: people who later became famous, but also the very many young people who, nowadays, prefer to study and/or work in the north or abroad.

Inevitably, however, as also happens with our brain drain, we return.

The return of the hero, the nóstos , is a recurring theme in epic literature (just think of the Homeric heroes after the Trojan War, first of all Ulysses), which has gone through centuries of writing and which has a special place in the heart and inspiration of Sicilian authors.

It almost seems like a duty, an obligatory step of destiny, for the Sicilian writer to leave his island to be able to talk about it.

Vitaliano Brancati writes about Sicily in his latest novel, the unfinished Paolo il caldo: "It has become as alien to me as necessary to judge it and as much an object of nostalgia as necessary to understand it".

Giovanni Verga was in Milan when, in 1874, he wrote Nedda, the first work that looked at Sicily with a realist gaze.

In Elio Vittorini's Conversation in Sicily , the protagonist's journey to his native land is almost a regression to childhood made up of traditions, places and people.

And why not mention Vincenzo Consolo who, far from Sicily, manages to read and tell it splendidly in The Olive Tree and the Olive Tree or in Beyond the Lighthouse ?

Inevitably these children of our island are forced to return, as if only the distance made them capable of fully understanding the meaning of life in Sicily, its mystical fatalism, the ancestral bond with history, the perception of time...

And the renewed contact with the island reminds the hero what it means to be Sicilian.

So for Salvatore Di Vita in Nuovo Cinema Paradiso.

So for Giovanni Percolla in Brancati's Don Giovanni in Sicily .

Martina and Rosalba Giacalone