DH Research Project
The Research Project
Title (provisional): Creation of a digital environment to map Sciascia’s reception in Europe
Supervisor: Mark Chu (Italian Department)
Leonardo Sciascia (Racalmuto 1921-Palermo 1989) is a Sicilian writer, essayist and journalist, on which the research is focused.
Sicily is indeed very important for him, but he cannot be considered a regional writer. He constantly renegotiated his identity in relation to Italian, European and American cultures, from the very beginning. His first fictional works were collection of stories, such as Le parrocchie di Regalpetra, in which the autobiographical element is dominant, or Gli zii di Sicilia, a collection of stories in which recent history is told from a Sicilian point of view, focusing on the relationship between Sicily and the world (La zia d’America describes the arrival of anglo-american troops in Sicily in WWII, La morte di Stalin). After that, in novels such as Il giorno della civetta and Il contesto, he started to deal with the issue of mafia, especially the shift from a rural to a urban mafia, which happened in the fifties and sixties and can be considered the criminal side of the so-called “miracolo economico” that transformed Italy in a industrial society.
His fictional works at this moment were shaped as crime novels, but only as a tool to express something different. In his own word his writing is based on “una materia saggistica che assume i modi del racconto” (an essay that adopts a narrative framework), inspired by enlightenment writers such as Voltaire’s Candide. In it the question of identity, of Sicilian identity, is central, together with that of the search for a truth that is never fully grasped. In this search there are many interferences, from the mafia, of course, but also from more general social and political situtation, or even existential and metaphysical.
As a reviewer wrote in NYT,
Sciascia has often been categorized as a detective story writer. He is not. Like Pirandello, he is a writer of metaphysical mysteries, rooted in human affairs.
A turning point of his career can be considered the work on the assassination of the Italian politician Aldo Moro in 1978, a defining moment for many Italian that has been since then rewritten many times and still can be considered controversial. Sciascia was one of the first to attempt an interpretation in L’affaire Moro. He was deeply affected by the event, as he himself admitted:
“Se dieci anni prima mi avessero detto che Moro avrebbe cambiato la mia vita, avrei riso: invece è stato così. Dopo la morte di Moro non mi sento più libero di immaginare. Anche per questo preferisco ricostruire cose già avvenute. Ho paura di dire cose che possono avvenire”
Among the outcomes of this new interest in “cose già avvenute” we can mention Porte aperte, the story, inspired by true event, of a judge that, during Fascim was against death penalty, and 1912+1, inspired by a famous 1913 Italian trial.
In this neverending identity search he established contacts with many different cultures in Europe and elsewhere, and this is the starting point of the research I am proposing.
In the research the idea of networks is a central one, and is applied not only to digital networks, but also the more traditional literary and cultural networks created by Sciascia in his career. I will try to investigate the nature and the reasons of networking in general, the way in which it was done and the kind of product that came out it, and building on that I will try to understand how digital networking changed and improved the ways of communicating and interacting. The final result will be an archival resource on Sciascia which will be a research and a teaching tool for the digital academic. And possibly the basis for a better networking.