Open Collections

UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Vigevano Schoolteacher: a translation of Lucio Mastronardi’s Il Maestro di Vigevano Schultz, Anneliese 1976

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
831-UBC_1976_A8 S38.pdf [ 11.99MB ]
Metadata
JSON: 831-1.0093800.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0093800-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0093800-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0093800-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0093800-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0093800-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0093800-source.json
Full Text
831-1.0093800-fulltext.txt
Citation
831-1.0093800.ris

Full Text

VI  G E Y ANO  S C H O O L T E A C H E R  a t r a n s l a t i o n of Lucio Mastronardi's I I Maestro d i Vigevano by ANNELIESE SCHULTZ B.A., Middlebury College, 1972  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  i n the Department of Hispanic and I t a l i a n Studies  We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September, 1976  Anneliese Schultz  1976  In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s  thesis  in p a r t i a l  fulfilment of  the requirements f o r  an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, the  Library shall  make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e  I f u r t h e r agree t h a t permission for  of  this  written  representatives. thesis  for financial  X v  Alju^p^uJYi^,  The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h  2075 W e s b r o o k P l a c e V a n c o u v e r , Canada V6T 1W5  C^cV,  that  study. thesis  the Head of my Department or  is understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n gain s h a l l  not be allowed without my  permission.  Department of  Date  It  reference and  for e x t e n s i v e copying o f t h i s  s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by  by h i s  for  I agree  ^H-  Columbia  J _ £ ^ - O ^ O L - ^ _  3VucA*_ja_^  II  A l i o s c r i t t o r e medesimo, che ardisco - dopo c i r c a 57»000 parole - chiamare i l 'mio* Mastronardi ed a l nonno materno, Karl H. Ickrath, donde deriva i l forte amore per l e loquele.  Ill  The North America-patterned economic boom had barelytaken h o l d i n I t a l y when, i n 1962, was  the f i r s t  heard from t h e l i t e r a r y w o r l d .  cry of r e b e l l i o n  The b l u r b s t o L u c i o  M a s t r o n a r d i ' s Vigevano S c h o o l t e a c h e r read:"one  o f the  a n g r i e s t s t o r i e s t o stem from the years o f the economic m i r a c l e " , "a f i e r c e c a r i c a t u r e o f a world which has become h u r r i e d , i n d i f f e r e n t , r u t h l e s s i n i t s f e v e r i s h p u r s u i t of W e l l - b e i n g " , "the dramatic f a i l u r e o f p e t i t - b o u r g e o i s decorum."  A f i l m v e r s i o n , d i r e c t e d by E l i o P e t r i  s t a r r i n g A l b e r t o S o r d i , f o l l o w e d immediately.  As d i d  l a w s u i t s , brought by those whose decorum had not i n w i t h s t a n d i n g the b i t t e r  and  succeeded  caricature.  The n o v e l , t r a g i - c o m i c but u l t i m a t e l y t r a g i c p a r a b o l a to  a p e t t y doom, h e l d - l i k e i t s author - l i t t l e hope.  T h i s hopelessness - o f M a s t r o n a r d i ' s , o f s c h o o l t e a c h e r Mombelli's, o f i n d u s t r i a l - e r a Man possession. to  - I have seen as d i s -  I n the f i r s t p a r t o f my  critical  introduction  the t r a n s l a t i o n o f Vigevano S c h o o l t e a c h e r , I have  c o n s i d e r e d t h e innumerable  e s s e n t i a l s o f which Antonio  Mombelli, elementary t e a c h e r at h i s f o u r t h pay i n c r e a s e of  p o i n t t o t a l 271, has been s y s t e m a t i c a l l y d i s p o s s e s s e d . D i s f r a n c h i s e d -by a c o n s t a n t l y changing s o c i e t y - o f  p r i d e , he i s an educator who l e a r n i n g , a modern man  knows t h e r e i s no room f o r  u n a f f i l i a t e d w i t h the p r e s e n t t i m e .  Eyewitness t o the c o n s t r u c t i o n of a power p l a n t on the spot where Hannibal d e f e a t e d t h e Romans, t o the h a l l u c i n a t o r y  IV  transformation  o f woman f r o m E v e i n t o  m i d d l e - a g e d man who Returning, ex-father  humiliated, cured  is  dispossessed  of  a calling,  a man's  realizes  there  have  as  not only of past,  and f u t u r e , but  of pride  considered  colleague,  (or 'tar*,  The be the  concept o f  various  first  reactions to h i s dispossession.  hisinitial  then h i s subsequent  order  - habits  parallel  attempts  to f i ti n -  as h o l d i n g  then i s clear.  are Mastronardi's  formulas  o f speech  dialectal).  experimentation  small-time  forms o f escapism - t h e  and f i n a l l y h i s e f f o r t s  at  o f f the holocaust. What h a v e u l t i m a t e l y t o  linguistic  a t f i t t i n g i n correspond  journalistic,  Twentieth  even, perhaps, o f c o n t r o l  life-responses of h i s character.  attempts  terms i t ;  o f the i n t r o d u c t i o n addresses i t s e l f  a n d numbed d e s p a i r ;  discussed  as Mastronardi  as P r i n c i p e B a r hanger-on, as even  industrialist;  creating  present  then,  mind.  second part  fantasies  he i s an  Mombelli,  of necessity t o Mombelli's I  o f departure,  o f t h e tendency t o hope.  Century s a v i n g - f a c e ) , o f hope;  The  he i s a  i s no t i m e f o r t h e p a s t .  to the point  almost amusing but v i t a l  o v e r h i s own  Delilah,  equivalents to  To t h e  the author's  (bureaucratic,  schoolteacher's tries  at  learned,  To f a n t a s i e s c o r r e s p o n d  and even o u t r i g h t i n v e n t i o n .  To  linguistic Antonio  M o m b e l l i ' s t w o - d e c a d e - l o n g h a b i t s , t o h i s s e n t e n c e t o do first  resigned,  then  ever  more u n t e n a b l e ,  increasingly  V  s u r r e a l i s t i c , and f i n a l l y irreparable Time corresponds Lucio Mastronardi's  parabola.  From the v i s e - l i k e chaos  of dispossession, through a writer and novel, emerges anguished - order.  VI  TABLE OF CONTENTS  Abstract  I l l  Introduction  1  P a r t One  13  P a r t Two  110  P a r t Three  171  Bibliography  .  .  258  VII  I would l i k e t o acknowledge t h e a s s i s t a n c e and encouragement o f P r o f e s s o r s C a r l o C h i a r e n z a , M i c h a e l B u l l o c k , and Meredyth Savage; o f Giovanni C i l i a and o f L i n d a M c C a f f e r t y . F o r t h e more l e n g t h y quotations from Alessandro Manzoni and Dante I have used t h e f o l l o w i n g e d i t i o n s : New York:  A. L . B u r t , 1844; The D i v i n e Comedy, t r a n .  Henry Wadsworth L o n g f e l l o w , Boston: Co.,  1$70.  The Betrothed*  F i e l d s , Osgood and  1  P a r a b o l a To A P e t t y Doom: D i s p o s s e s s i o n and Order i n L u c i o M a s t r o n a r d i ' s Vigevano Schoolteacher  "I'm  an elementary  a w i f e and son, and my  schoolteacher with a family.  I have  earnings are enough t o see us t o the  i  end o f the month." q u i c k l y and w e l l ; we  The bourgeois bases are sketched i n are immediately  g i v e n , as the much-  d i s c u s s e d I t a l i a n w r i t e r L u c i o M a s t r o n a r d i opens h i s c e l e b r a t e d Vigevano S c h o o l t e a c h e r , the f o u r s o l i d w a l l s o f s e t t i n g , simple assurance o f an apparent  small-town  normality.  The s i m p l i c i t y , both of s t y l e and s e t t i n g , however, i s deceptive.  M a s t r o n a r d i * s novel d e f i n e d by c r i t i c s as t h e ,  " f i e r c e c a r i c a t u r e of a world which has become h u r r i e d , i n d i f f e r e n t , ruthless i n i t s f e v e r i s h pursuit of Well-being", i s c l e a r l y i n the t r a d i t i o n o f Notes from Underground L a Nausee; S c h o o l t e a c h e r Mombelli's  somewhat l e s s  and  anguished  L u c i o M a s t r o n a r d i , I I Maestro d i Vigevano, t r a n s . A n n e l i e s e S c h u l t z ( T o r i n o : G i u l i o E i n a u d i E d i t o r e , 1962), p. 13. Subsequent r e f e r e n c e s t o t h i s work w i l l appear i n the t e x t .  2  n o t e t a k i n g may  g i v e us b r i l l i a n t l y focused shots o f pedagogical  a b s u r d i t i e s , o f t h e economic boom as h i g h and h i l a r i o u s comedy, but i t s course i s t h a t o f an u l t i m a t e l y t r a g i c p a r a b o l a t o p e t t y doom. Vigevano S c h o o l t e a c h e r was  f i r s t p u b l i s h e d i n 1962,  a f o u r t h e d i t i o n w i t h i n a decade.  Preceded  maker and f o l l o w e d by Vigevano Southerner,  by Vigevano Shoei t was  immediately  made i n t o a p o p u l a r f i l m d i r e c t e d by E l i o P e t r i and Alberto Sordi.  starring  I t s author, son o f Vigevano s c h o o l t e a c h e r s  and f o r m e r l y an elementary as immediately  with  s c h o o l t e a c h e r h i m s e l f , was  f a c e d w i t h l a w s u i t s , brought  " p e t i t - b o u r g e o i s decorum" had not succeeded the b i t t e r c a r i c a t u r e .  just  by those whose i n withstanding  L i t e r a r y c r i t i c s at t h e i r h a r s h e s t  r e l e g a t e d him t o the minor branch o f d i a l e c t a l  literature;  at t h e i r most l a u d a t o r y spoke o f the c a r i c a t u r a l f o r c e and ruthlessness of a Balzac or  Gogol.  The book, which both stems from and s t r i k e s out a t the p r o v i n c i a l Amarcord-type atmosphere o f the t i n y shoe c a p i t a l o f I t a l y ( l e t t i n g us see through those b r i g h t , Fellini  satisfying  c o l o r s t o the c o l o r l e s s r e a l i t i e s beyond), a d m i t t e d l y  holds l i t t l e hope.  T h i s hopelessness  - o f M a s t r o n a r d i * s , of  Antonio Mombelli's,  o f i n d u s t r i a l - e r a Man  - i s the r e s u l t o f  a s y s t e m a t i c and modern-day d i s p o s s e s s i o n :  the c o n f i s c a t i o n -  worked by Economic M i r a c l e - o f p a s t , o f p r i d e , o f the  cul-  t u r a l and p s y c h o l o g i c a l e q u i l i b r i u m counted upon by a S t a t e employee at p o i n t t o t a l 271  s a l a r y bracket  #4.  3  The days o f the p e t i t - b o u r g e o i s s t a t u s quo,  then,  are  numbered, and from behind those s t e a d f a s t w a l l s o f s e t t i n g hear a l r e a d y the ominous sound of p r e l i m i n a r i e s t o the ball:  "Ada,  my w i f e , i s always s a y i n g t o me,  'Let me  wreckers' go  and get a j o b ! ' . . . ' A l l the women i n Vigevano work!*" The f a c t t h a t decade-long observes  we  out  (p.13)  h a b i t s - n e a r l y r i t e s , Mombelli  - are d i s t u r b e d on the t h i r d page o f the n o v e l i s  significant.  " I s t r e t c h out, but now  door a s k i n g f o r me.  t h e r e ' s somebody at the  I can't s t a y l y i n g down, can't d r i n k  c o f f e e , can't smoke i n peace."  (p.15)  my  From these f i r s t  and  r e l a t i v e l y t o l e r a b l e h i n t s o f change, o f muddied waters,  the  s p i r a l i s v e r t i g i n o u s l y downward.  Consecutively dispossessed  o f p r e s e n t , past and f u t u r e as w e l l as o f a c a l l i n g ,  of  d i g n i t y and o f hope, Mombelli soon s u f f e r s from f a r more than merely a " d i s a g r e e a b l e f e e l i n g o f annoyance",  (p.15)  With h i s slow, secure values c a l l e d i n t o q u e s t i o n by a s p l i t - s e c o n d world, he becomes a modern man the present time.  d i s a f f i l i a t e d with  Having spent n i n e t e e n years as an  educator,  he comes t o see t h a t t h e r e i s no room - i n these I t a l i a n l i v e s s t e p p i n g t o big-money U.S.A. time - f o r l e a r n i n g . H u m i l i a t i o n , at f i r s t  simply one o f the o c c a s i o n a l bothers o f d a i l y  becomes a constant s t a t e o f mind. amusing but v i t a l  concept  The t a r , a man's almost  o f Twentieth  becomes c o n s i d e r a b l y l e s s amusing as And  still  life,  Century s a v i n g - f a c e , quicksand.  to f o l l o w t h i s d i s p o s s e s s i o n o f the present  and o f p r i d e , i s rough e v i c t i o n from an i d y l l i c view o f t h e  4  p a s t , gradual surrender o f any s o r t o f f a i t h i n the f u t u r e . Eyewitness t o the c o n s t r u c t i o n o f an E d i s o n power p l a n t the spot where Hannibal  defeated the Romans, t o the  on  hallu-  c i n a t o r y t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f woman from Eve i n t o D e l i l a h , Mombelli l e a r n s , as a middle-aged man,  t h a t t h e r e i s no time  f o r the days t h a t were. One you know!  f i n a l mirage, however, p e r s e v e r e s . H e ' l l be a Group A."  (p.51)  "He  reads a l o t ,  Having bowed t o the  i m p o s i t i o n s o f l e a v i n g h i s p r o f e s s i o n , o f becoming ' p r i n c e c o n s o r t ' t o a w i f e and b r o t h e r - i n - l a w gone i n t o b u s i n e s s , being presented  with and then l o s i n g an unwanted redheaded  baby, he p i n s a l l hopes on the t r u e son.  "The  as a f u t u r e Group A i s the hope t h a t h e l p s me present.  The t a r . "  (p.51)  thought o f Rino f o r g e t the  But he i s d e s t i n e d f i n a l l y t o  e v i c t e d from t h i s dream as w e l l .  Ex-schoolteacher  Instead,  Rino too i s sucked under by the p r e s e n t , l e a v i n g Mombelli e x - f a t h e r i n the end, I t h i n k , I'm  an  cured o f the tendency t o hope. here, I'm  awake, I'm  a l i v e , I'm  myself,  Antonio Mombelli - and my name sounds s a r c a s t i c t o me." The  be  Mombelli  t h r u s t s h i s son i n t o the f u t u r e , wishing t o save him.  "And  of  Vigevano s c h o o l t e a c h e r ' s w o r l d becomes s l o w l y  (p.  surrealistic  i n i t s ever-multiplying tragedies of dispossession.  What were  o r i g i n a l l y i d i o s y n c r a c i e s become f a t a l symptons, what was  black  humor reaches b i t t e r p r o p o r t i o n s o f doom. " I t h i n k about whether t h e r e c o u l d be a l o g i c a l t i o n between a paper bag and t h i s g r a n i t e . . . .  The  90)  connec-  f e e l i n g of  5  not b e i n g i n c o n t r o l o f myself  came over me  The p a r a b o l a p o i n t s downward.  E x p l o s i o n , not even  through the n o v e l , seems imminent.  a g a i n . " (pp.83-4) halfway  One would almost  hope,  i n f a c t , f o r the book and i t s world t o s e l f - d e s t r u c t - t h e o n l y humane s o l u t i o n . I n s t e a d , time - one hundred s i x t y - e i g h t hours by hundred s i x t y - e i g h t hours - goes on. by means o f e x p l o s i o n . seek a l t e r n a t i v e s .  But Man,  one  There can be no  relief  i n order to s u r v i v e , w i l l  Mombelli*s f i r s t t r y i s a t  conformity.  P e r f e c t l y aware t h a t Amiconi i s r e c o u n t i n g the same s t o r y he t o l d " y e s t e r d a y , the day b e f o r e y e s t e r d a y , l a s t y e a r , years ago, t h r e e years ago"  two  (p.24) (and a d d r e s s i n g not  Mombelli but h i m s e l f ) , aware t h a t one  q u a r t e r o f h i s hours  are spent i n l i s t e n i n g t o arguments about s p u t n i k s , about r e a d i n g i n the bathroom, and about g r a i n - f e d c h i c k e n s , Colleague Mombelli attempts n e v e r t h e l e s s t o f i t i n . " I ordered c o f f e e s a t t h e b a r . 'Wait a minute, who's paying?' Amiconi • I t ' s on me',  said. I said recklessly."  (p.  46)  H u m i l i a t e d by h i s w i f e ' s a s k i n g a p u p i l ' s i n d u s t r i a l i s t f a t h e r f o r money, m o r t i f i e d a t her working, he swallows the rage and r e s i g n s h i m s e l f . me.  "'Go  get the vegetables*  So, f o r the sake o f peace and  used t o i t now."  (p.  q u i e t , I go.  she  I'm  tells  getting  3#)  The l a s t chapter o f P a r t One  - f o u r l i n e s , two  c o n s t i t u t e s Mombelli's f i n a l t r y at amalgamation.  sentences " I have the  -  6  f e e l i n g o f being s a t i s f i e d w i t h myself.  Tonight I s a t down  at the C a f f e S o c i a l e w i t h the small-time i n d u s t r i a l i s t s ; same ones t h a t used t o get on my nerves when I was and I'd see them s i t t i n g t h e r e s a t i s f i e d w i t h ( p . 109)  Mombelli has by now  the  a teacher  themselves."  been d e p r i v e d o f a p r o f e s s i o n ,  o f c o l l e a g u e s and o f independence:  f o u r pages i n t o the next  p a r t , he w i l l have l o s t n e a r l y e v e r y t h i n g . The next a l t e r n a t i v e to e x p l o s i o n (Mombelli  barred  now  from h i s w i f e ' s b u s i n e s s and a f f e c t i o n s , g i v e n a d a i l y allowance,  and immobile b e f o r e the window f o r hours on  i s clearly fantasy.  end)  Raving by the banks o f the T i c i n o ,  he  has a l r e a d y seen a woodcutter and h i s companion as p r i m e v a l Man  and Woman; a pool o f water and hut on p i l i n g s as Nature  and E a r t h l y P a r a d i s e .  He now  becomes, i n h i s mind, a great  c y c l i s t ; Super Champion!, dreaded r i v a l o f t h e famous Coppi and B a r t a l i .  " I keep on t h i n k i n g about Eva.  not t h i n k i n g about her, I'm cyclist."  (p. 194)  semi-consciousness,  And when  t h i n k i n g about being the  I'm  super-  " I went f o r f o u r hours i n a s t a t e o f t h i n k i n g , I'm  Tour, Coppi's behind me  a l i v e , I'm  somewhere!"  (p.  winning  the  230)  But the boom y e a r s , the century, the s o c i e t y -  and,  above a l l , Mombelli's s a n i t y - w i l l a l l o w o n l y b r i e f l y f o r such escapism. c y c l i s t who  p u l v e r i z e s Coppi, and I r e a l i z e d t h a t t h i n k i n g  l i k e t h a t was (p.  184)  " I s t a r t e d t h i n k i n g about being t h a t g r e a t  l i k e drugs;  as dangerous as t a k i n g drugs."  7  From the i n i t i a l  semblance o f p e t i t - b o u r g e o i s decorum,  through wrenching i m p o s i t i o n s , a p r e c a r i o u s l y - b a l a n c e d p e r i o d of  f a l s e n o r m a l i t y and e v a s i v e r e a c t i o n s , Mombelli must  now  accept an unchosen and raw-skinned r e t u r n t o the p o i n t of departure.  A r e t u r n i n which f a n t a s i e s can have no p a r t ,  i n which o n l y o r d e r - however s u p e r f i c i a l - can be used as counterbalance  t o the f o r e g o i n g chaos.  And o n l y those same  h a b i t s - r i t u a l - s t r e n g t h and token o f n o r m a l i t y -r t h a t marked the f i r s t  pages o f banal and s t o l i d s e t t i n g can now  h o l d o f f the h o l o c a u s t . still  serve t o  Mombelli i s d i m l y aware o f the need:  f a n t a s i z i n g , he n e v e r t h e l e s s sees c l e a r l y enough to  e n r o l l i n two  supplementary education courses, i n f a n t i l e  l u d i c r o u s as t h e y may  be.  and  N e a r l y u n c o n s c i o u s l y , he becomes  again a Colleague; t a c k l e s a c e r t i f i c a t i o n exam; " p i c k s and d i s c a r d s , p i c k s and d i s c a r d s " as a card p a r t n e r once more; f r e q u e n t s t e a c h e r s ' meetings, Bar and P i a z z a ; r e v i v e s h i s obsession with toes. "I I was  t h i n k about how  I t r y t o remember where  t e n years ago on a Monday o f t h i s month.  me t h a t I was  over t o o , how Tuesday.  as t o n i g h t . . .  I t h i n k about how  the n i g h t ' s going by, how  And i n a few days i t ' l l  Tuesday a g a i n .  And i t s t r i k e s  r i g h t here, t h a t I'd seen the same people  the same scenes  full  i t ' s Monday.  P o i n t t o t a l 202."  and  today's  from Monday you go to  be Monday again and (pp. 254-5)  then  Having come  c i r c l e ( a l l e x t e r n a l elements r e g a i n e d ; once more "a  8  man o f h a b i t , and... almost fond o f my h a b i t s " (p.14) means not n e c e s s a r i l y a s o l u t i o n but, a t l e a s t ,  survival.  The d i f f e r e n c e l i e s again i n d i s p o s s e s s i o n .  Mombelli  has recovered t h e bare f a c t s o f pay i n c r e a s e s and s o c c e r d i s p u t e s , schedules, Scoop games and 'paying h i s dues t o life';  but those bare f a c t s a r e now s t r i p p e d o f g o a l s , o f  r e s o l v e o r ambition, o f any e x t r a p o l a t i o n beyond t h e next and i d e n t i c a l day. for  He has l e a r n e d c y n i c i s m and p a i d d e a r l y  order. Vigevano S c h o o l t e a c h e r i s n o t f a b l e , however, and i t s  success must be measured not i n terms o f l e s s o n s l e a r n e d by the c h a r a c t e r , but o f h e i g h t s achieved by the author. M a s t r o n a r d i * s use o f language c l o s e l y p a r a l l e l s t h e l i f e responses  of h i s protagonist; yet h i s f i n a l  s t r e n g t h enough t o l i f t life  sentences  have  both c h a r a c t e r and r e a d e r out o f t h a t  and i n t o l i t e r a t u r e . To t h e s c h o o l t e a c h e r ' s v a r i e d attempts a t f i t t i n g i n ,  correspond t h e author's t r i e s a t v a r i o u s formulas o f speech. A possessor o f words, M a s t r o n a r d i moves e a s i l y from d i a l e c t to l e a r n e d language, from s p o r t s j a r g o n t o a p r i n c i p a l ' s rhetoric.  The sometimes d i z z y experimentation, however, i s  not without motive.  As a l i n g u i s t i c e q u i v a l e n t t o t h e ex-  perimentation-for-survival practiced i n l i f e it  by t h e d i s p o s s e s s e d ,  serves t o expose such s o c i a l codes as p u r e l y Form; and t o  i n d i c a t e t h a t Communication l i e s  elsewhere.  9  M a s t r o n a r d i , i n v i v i d l y r e p r o d u c i n g the l e x i c a l  settings  of  myriad s o c i a l c o n t e x t s , echoes Mombelli*s l a s t - d i t c h  to  adapt t o j u s t such l e v e l s and systems.  efforts  And u n d e r l i n e d by  both Mombelli*s u n s u c c e s s f u l e f f o r t s and the author's l i n g u i s tic  mimicry i s the s u p e r f i c i a l and f o r m u l i s t i c n a t u r e o f these  various categories of s o c i e t y . "In  the morning I go t o s c h o o l , and t h i n k about how  going t h e r e to pay my dues t o l i f e .  I*m  I know I ' l l see C i p o l l o n e  and t h a t h e ' l l be t a l k i n g about h i s f e a s t s and about  how  c h i c o r y h i t s the s p o t .  about  legal status.  That B r a g a g l i a ' l l be t a l k i n g  That F i l i p p i ' l l  be t a l k i n g about g e t t i n g i t up.  That P e s c h e t t i ' l l be t a l k i n g about a t h l e t i c phenomena.  That  the a s s i s t a n t superintendent wants me t o watch my l o o p s . " (p.247)  C l e a r l y , both t o a u t h o r - c h a r a c t e r and r e a d e r , i t  i s not the speakers who of  possess the language, but the p a t t e r n s  l i f e and speech which possess them. Thus, the next venture o f a l i n g u i s t i c k i n d i s - i n  harmony w i t h Mombelli's outright invention.  ensuing daydreams and f a n t a s y -  Somewhat stymied f o r l a b e l s but  appreci-  a t i v e , the c r i t i c s speak here o f " s y n t a c t i c d i s t o r t i o n s " , o f "phonic barbarism", s u r r e a l e x p r e s s i o n s , mimesis and " c o r r u p tions."  G i a n f r a n c o C o n t i n i , i n h i s e x c l u s i v e anthology o f  contemporary  I t a l i a n authors, L e t t e r a t u r a d e l l ' I t a l i a U n i t a ,  a s s i g n s M a s t r o n a r d i a p l a c e among the more important o f the neorealists.  "This extraordinary vivacity,  physiologically  10  o p t i m i s t i c (even though one i s d e a l i n g w i t h Lombard  'losers'),"  C o n t i n i says, " i s above s u s p i c i o n o f being ' a r t f o r a r t ' s sake'."  2  M a s t r o n a r d i * s a g i l e i m p r o v i s a t i o n , however, l i k e Mombelli's  f a n t a s i z i n g , i s not enough.  be capable o f coming f u l l And w h i l e Mombelli of  circle:  The n o v e l too must  t h e answer a g a i n i s o r d e r .  does no more than l e a r n , w i t h c y n i c i s m ,  h i s d i s p o s s e s s i o n ; M a s t r o n a r d i must u l t i m a t e l y possess. The  s c h o o l t e a c h e r ' s experience i s o f a s o c i e t y which i s  shown as p r i m i t i v e b a c k b i t i n g s u r v i v a l ; o f an e d u c a t i o n a l environment w i t h no room f o r t r u e t e a c h i n g o r l e a r n i n g , and even l e s s f o r anything l i k e wisdom.  From such an experience,  he can d i s c o v e r o n l y t h e a l l - i n c l u s i v e i m p o s s i b i l i t y o f learning:  One cannot l e a r n from t h e (economic boom) present;  i t has n o t h i n g t o i n s t i l ,  o n l y t o impose.  N e i t h e r can one  l e a r n from t h e ( E a r t h l y Paradise) p a s t ; i t p a l e s and i s covered over from one day t o t h e n e x t .  And one cannot  learn  from t h e ( e v e r - i d e n t i c a l ) f u t u r e ; i t h o l d s no hope. "Every day l i t t l e t h i n g s ' l l happen, new l i t t l e t h i n g s a l l t h e time, and t h a t ' l l d i s t i n g u i s h one day from t h e next; I'll  fill  up my time w i t h l i t t l e t h i n g s , b e s i d e s paying my  d a i l y dues t o l i f e . "  ( p . 257)  There i s no use i n under-  2 Gianfranco C o n t i n i , L e t t e r a t u r a d e l l ' I t a l i a U n i t a (Firenze: Sansoni, 1963), p. 1033.  11  s t a n d i n g , Mombelli has found.  Order may  but one must s i m p l y do one's t i m e .  s o f t e n the sentence,  I f he has indeed r e t u r n e d  to the p o i n t of d e p a r t u r e , t h i s can be c o n s i d e r e d a new ginning only i n a highly i r o n i c  sense.  We have seen, however, t h a t i t i s not the s c h o o l t e a c h e r but the author who experience o f two hundred  pages.  be-  Vigevano  must f i n a l l y command the Mastronardi, himself  d i s p o s s e s s e d but a p o s s e s s o r of language, r i s e s - simultaneous to the l a s t words - above the experience o f the n o v e l ; h a v i n g surmounted i t , ordered i t , and thus possessed i t . M o m b e l l i s two-decade-long 1  To Antonio  broken and then r e i n s t a t e d h a b i t s ,  corresponds L u e i o M a s t r o n a r d i ' s p e r f e c t l y balanced p a r a b o l a . To the s c h o o l t e a c h e r ' s sentence t o do f i r s t r e s i g n e d , then ever more untenable, i n c r e a s i n g l y s u r r e a l i s t i c and f i n a l l y i r r e p a r a b l e Time, corresponds a masterpiece o f t r a g i - c o m i c symmetry.  From the v i s e - l i k e chaos o f d i s p o s s e s s i o n , through  a w r i t e r and n o v e l , emerges - anguished and i r o n i c - o r d e r .  12  V I G E V A N O  S C H O O L T E A C H E R  A Novel by LUCIO MASTRONARDI  T r a n s l a t e d from t h e I t a l i a n by ANNELIESE SCHULTZ  13  Part  One  I  I'm  an elementary  w i f e and son, and my of  the month.  schoolteacher with a f a m i l y .  I have a  earnings are enough t o see us t o the  Ada, my w i f e , i s always s a y i n g t o me,  go out and get a j o b ! "  "Let  end me  Or e l s e , " A l l the women i n Vigevano  work!" She sees t h a t I'm  wearing myself out what w i t h s c h o o l  and p r i v a t e l e s s o n s , and she takes advantage o f i t . don't you l e t me I  go work?"  r e a l i z e her working would be v i t a l t o t h e  economy, not t o mention the economy o f my take the thought  "Why  household  e n e r g i e s ; but I can't  o f my w i f e - t h e w i f e o f a p e t t y bourgeois  -  going i n t o a f a c t o r y , p u t t i n g h e r s e l f on a l e v e l w i t h the workers. In care o f .  "You've got the house t o worry about," I t e l l  her.  my house, t o t e l l t h e t r u t h , t h e r e i s n ' t much t o take There's  j u s t me,  Ada and our son  Rino.  14  "You're v a i n and f u l l I  r e a l i z e d I was  Rino i s supposed  o f hang-ups," Ada reproaches  v a i n and hung-up a few days t o be confirmed.  C o n f i r m a t i o n i s the k i d s * b i g h o l i d a y .  ago.  I n Vigevano On C o n f i r m a t i o n  morning t h e C a t h e d r a l swarms w i t h them; a l l dressed t o How of  can I send my  me.  kill.  son up i n f r o n t o f the bishop, i n t h e midst  a l l t h a t l u x u r y , i n a b a r e l y p r e s e n t a b l e get-up? I  s a i d , "Rino, you can be confirmed next year!"  Rino complied. It's  " I ' l l t e l l F a t h e r L i c o d o r i , " he  evening.  l e f t a few minutes  said.  The c h i l d r e n I g i v e p r i v a t e l e s s o n s t o ago.  teeming w i t h them.  The a i r i n the d i n i n g room i s s t i l l  There's a f r e s h i n k s t a i n d r y i n g on the  table. My t a b l e i s covered with s t a i n s l i k e t h a t .  I l o o k at  them w i t h s a t i s f a c t i o n , maybe because t h e y remind me o f work. My head i s f u l l  o f problems and diagrammed sentences, of  numbers and words. My day's over, I t h i n k , opening the window. of  way  hours  s c h o o l t h i s morning, another f o u r o f t u t o r i n g i n the a f t e r -  noon. at  Four  I've p a i d my dues t o l i f e , I t h i n k , l i k e I u s u a l l y do  t h i s moment.  When I've f i n i s h e d work I f e e l e x a c t l y the  you f e e l a f t e r you've p a i d your t a x e s . I'm  habits.  a man  o f h a b i t , and by now I'm  almost f o n d o f my  At t h i s time o f evening I always s t r e t c h out on t h e  s o f a and enjoy my o n l y c i g a r e t t e o f t h e day.  15  I t ' s p r a c t i c a l l y a r i t e I've been r e p e a t i n g every weekday f o r t e n y e a r s . I l i g h t the  Ada b r i n g s me  a cup o f c o f f e e and  then  cigarette.  I s t r e t c h out, but now a s k i n g f o r me.  t h e r e ' s somebody a t the door  I can't s t a y l y i n g down, can't d r i n k my c o f f e e ,  can't smoke i n peace.  I have t h i s d i s a g r e e a b l e f e e l i n g o f  annoyance. Now  F a t h e r L i c o d o r i i s s i t t i n g a c r o s s from  "The  r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s toward Rino undertaken b e f o r e  are most grave," he s a i d , i l l was  me.  at ease but r e s o l u t e .  God  What he  s a y i n g c o n t r a s t e d w i t h h i s p o l i t e tone o f v o i c e . "Next y e a r ! " "Do  you r e a l i z e t h a t i f the boy were t o d i e he would  end up i n Limbo?" Now  h i s v o i c e becomes p r e s s i n g .  the grace g i v e n him a t Baptism  "Do  you r e a l i z e t h a t  i s complete o n l y upon  Confirmation?" He l o o k s a t me. h i s shoes. "Why  Who  I lower my  eyes a l l the way  down t o  knows what h i s toes are l i k e , I t h i n k .  are you not a l l o w i n g him to be  He s t a r e s a t  confirmed?"  me.  "Because... I'm  o n l y a S t a t e employee," I stammer.  "But Jesus l o o k s at the garment o f the s o u l , " he and h i s v o i c e sounds n a s a l , p e d a n t i c . "Next year," I repeat "Think i t over.  mechanically.  There's s t i l l time!" he answers.  responds,  16  II.  F r i d a y ' s come. evening I h a t e .  I hate t h e day; o r r a t h e r , i t ' s F r i d a y  Every evening I go and spend an hour a t t h e  Bar and p l a y cards w i t h my f r i e n d s .  On F r i d a y s I can't: Ada  always wants t o go t o t h e movies and I have t o take h e r . I thought about o u r c a r d games as I watched t h e movie. I t was about a woman from t h e country who runs o f f t o P a r i s and manages t o become t h e l o v e r o f some b i g s h o t s .  During  the i n t e r m i s s i o n s Ada l o o k e d a t me p r o v o c a t i v e l y . The husband of  the woman i n t h e movie was a humble c l e r k ; t h e s e t t i n g f o r  the p r o v i n c i a l scenes resembled Vigevano.  The c e n t r a l p i a z z a ,  a l l those f a c e s o f people who do t h e same t h i n g every damned day, t h a t somnolent a i r t y p i c a l o f lower m i d d l e - c l a s s p r o v i n c i a l s and those same nuances o f presumption  and i n -  d i f f e r e n c e , were a l l b e i n g u n v e i l e d i n f r o n t o f me. bourgeois c l e r k could have been me.  I f o l l o w e d t h e movie w i t h  bated b r e a t h , as i f i t was a t h r i l l e r . my d e f e c t s , my h a b i t s , t h e t a r .  That  The movie p o i n t e d up  And Ada's s t i f l e d  ambitions.  I f e l t h e r l o o k p i e r c i n g t h e darkness o f t h e t h e a t r e . "That's you," h e r eyes seemed t o s a y . "And  t h a t ' s you," my l o o k answered h e r .  By t h e t h i r d r e e l I couldn't take i t anymore. go," I t o l d h e r . "No,"  she s a i d .  "Let's  17  The conclusion of the movie was obvious. u n f a i t h f u l to the husband, who habits.  just goes on i n h i s p r o v i n c i a l  I thought I f e l t a premonition.  warning," a voice inside t o l d  The wife i s  "This movie i s a  me.  I looked at Ada, and her by now amorphous face, neither ugly nor b e a u t i f u l , reassured  me.  *I have to get r i d of these habits,* I thought, as we l e f t the theatre. Ada wanted to go through the Piazza on the way home. " I t * s quicker t h i s way,"  I s a i d , pointing to the s t r e e t .  "The Piazza," she i n s i s t e d . At that time of night the Piazza looked l i k e the one i n the movie.  Not from an a r c h i t e c t u r a l point of view, of  course, but i t s atmosphere.  At the Caffe Sociale a bunch  of small-time i n d u s t r i a l i s t s were slouched i n the small easy-chairs with a s a t i s f i e d and b e a t i f i c a i r . A big i n d u s t r i a l i s t was s i t t i n g at a nearby table with a flunkyworker beside him.  Both of them looked pleased at being  seen together: the i n d u s t r i a l i s t seemed to want to show h i s attachment to the workers; and the worker seemed s a t i s f i e d , as i f the wealth and power of the i n d u s t r i a l i s t r e f l e c t e d on him.  Ada pointed out a fellow walking along the arcade.  "He*s set up a shoe f a c t o r y .  He*s a year younger than  you!" she said enigmatically. "He was a factory worker," she went on. a year!"  "He had a go at i t and' now he earns twenty m i l l i o n  18  "I wasn't aware he t o l d you a l l h i s business," I answered through clenched teeth. She smiled smugly.  "I read i t i n the Vigevano  Informatore:  under the Vanoni annual statement of income!" Farther ahead she pointed out another fellow. guy over there?  "See that  He's a year older than you and he's set up two  shoe factories..He's got an A l f a Romeo!" We sat down at the Principe Bar.  Beside us P a l l a v i c i n o ,  the reporter from the Informatore, was holding f o r t h to a dozen workers. "This Piazza i s going downhill!" he was shouting.  "But  I was t e l l i n g the mayor, I was t e l l i n g him: four painters to give i t a nice coat of white and i t ' d come out f a n t a s t i c . I'm gonna write an a r t i c l e about "He's  it."  s i x years younger than you and makes two hundred  a month," Ada t o l d  me.  While we were drinking our coffee, a custom-built A l f a Romeo drove up. out.  A small-time i n d u s t r i a l i s t and h i s wife got  Both of them nice and f a t ; that f l a c c i d , soft kind of  fatness.  The wife must have been wearing about twenty k i l o s  of gold what with bracelets rings necklaces and brooches; he at l e a s t h a l f as much.  They had t h i s haughty way of walking.  "That guy worked i n a factory t i l l l a s t year," Ada said to me, "and so did she," she added i n a loud harsh voice. "Don't l e t them hear you!" I murmured.  19  The two o f them were r i g h t behind u s .  "And now they have  t h e i r c h a u f f e u r b r i n g 'em so they can show o f f i n t h e P i a z z a . You'd t h i n k they were t h e o n l y people around w i t h a c u s t o m - b u i l t car!"  she shouted. The two l e f t .  They got back i n t o t h e c a r c a l m l y .  First  they opened t h e c a r doors, then t h e y put i n t h e i r l e f t l e g , then they s a t down, then t h e y drew t h e o t h e r one i n , c l o s e d the c a r doors and the A l f a Romeo drove o f f . "Try  and c o n t r o l y o u r s e l f , " I s a i d t o Ada.  P a l l a v i c i n o , t h e r e p o r t e r , was s t i l l t e l l i n g you, Vigevano  going a t i t .  i s worth two hundred P a r i s e s .  they got i n P a r i s t h a t we haven't  got i n Vigevano?  "I'm  What've In Paris  t h e r e ' s t h e P i a z z a P i g a l l e , i n Vigevano we've got t h e P i a z z a Ducal; i n P a r i s t h e r e ' s t h e Seine, i n Vigevano T i s i n ; i n Paris there's the E i f f e l the Bramant Tower," he was s a y i n g . struck midnight.  there's the  Tower, so here we've got The b i g b e l l i n t h e tower  The c o l o r e d neon s i g n s o f t h e bars  f l i c k e r e d damply. " L e t ' s go home!" I s a i d . She jumped t o h e r f e e t . her t e e t h . "You  " B a s t a r d c i t y ! " she s a i d  through  " L e t ' s go, t h a t ' s a l l we ..." she went on.  don't say: t h a t ' s a l l , " t h e r e p o r t e r i n t e r r u p t e d  h e r . "You say: t h a t ' s d e t e r g e n t ! " Seeing as he was w a i t i n g f o r t h e q u e s t i o n , I s a i d , "Detergent?'  20  "Righto!  Isn't ' A l l ' a detergent?" P a l l a v i c i n o answered,  bellowing with laughter. I walked along, brushing against massive bolted doors, closed windows.  From the walls oozed sounds of hammering, of  machinery running. "We're going home to sleep!" said Her tone of voice was harsh.  Ada.  I didn't answer her,  f e e l i n g she was just waiting f o r the right word to burst into a rage. "But we'll never own either a car or a house..." "We've got enough to eat," I said, offended. She laughed with her usual maternal smile.  "Before I  married you my g i r l f r i e n d s used to be jealous; they used to say, 'Ada's marrying a schoolteacher!'  Now  they're saying,  'Poor Ada...She married a schoolteacher!'" I looked at the moon pouring i t s yellow l i g h t over everything; there was a green halo around i t . thing out of i t ! " I t o l d her.  "You're making a b i g  "Think of the people l i s t e n i n g  to us going by; they probably think we're two lovers!" "The moon's going to your head!" Ada grunted. In the bedroom Ada lingered i n front of the mirror, looking at h e r s e l f . "Don't you think I look a l i t t l e l i k e Ingrid Bergman?" she asked  me.  "There r e a l l y i s a certain resemblance!"  I said.  She smiled at h e r s e l f , then became serious again, then  21  assumed a dramatic expression.  "What the heck do you think  you're doing?" I said, thinking:  t h a t ' l l teach her to show me,  one a f t e r another, a l l the guys who own f a c t o r i e s at my She looked at me with hatred. her underthings on.  age.  She undressed and l e f t just  An undershirt covered with patches, with  one red sleeve and the other blue, and lengthened with another scrap of wool.  A p a i r of my undershorts, altered f o r her.  In that state, she kept promenading to and f r o i n front of me. "Just think i f I was to f e e l i l l when I was out somewhere!" she said suddenly with a nervous laugh.  "Or i f one of us  ended up i n the h o s p i t a l ! " She started walking back and f o r t h again. " I t must be two months since I've taken a bath," she said sarcastically. I shrugged my shoulders. "I hope I do get sick when I'm out sometime.  That  way  t h e y ' l l see what kind of hygiene there i s at Schoolteacher Mombelli*s house!" "One  can be poor but clean," I s a i d .  She laughed.  "The maxims of the l i t t l e schoolteacher!  One can be poor but clean," she repeated, imitating my voice. Then she took a l l her underthings out of a drawer: a p i l e of rags; mended, threadbare s t u f f . "Mine re worse," I murmured. 1  One by one she uttered every obscene vulgar word possible.  22  I kept dirty! she  quiet.  She s t a r t e d y e l l i n g .  I'm f i l t h y !  She shook me.  "I'm  Here you go. Sweetie, t h i s i s f o r you!"  repeated. Here we go a g a i n . . . .  III.  Rino had a f e v e r t h i s morning. 40. of  The thermometer showed  I kept s e e i n g h i s f l u s h e d f a c e and f e v e r i s h eyes i n f r o n t me w h i l e I s i p p e d my c o f f e e a t t h e B a r . "What can you t e l l me about beach s k i t t l e s ? " my c o l l e a g u e  Amiconi asked me. of  He p u l l e d some o f h i s s t u d e n t s ' r e p o r t s out  h i s b r i e f c a s e , p i c k e d one and read, " * . . . . I was p l a y i n g w i t h  beach s k i t t l e s i n t h e sand.... b u r i e d you say: say:  I f t h e beach s k i t t l e  gets  i n t h e sand; i f i t s t a y s on t o p then you can  on t h e sand....'" "I  don't know a n y t h i n g about beach s k i t t l e s , " I answered.  "What'll t h e p r i n c i p a l say?  He's bound t o get me on i t . . . . "  Amiconi was s t i l l w o r r i e d as we walked towards t h e s c h o o l . Our  c o l l e a g u e F i l i p p i was w i t h us t o o .  he was s a y i n g a g a i n .  " S t i l l g e t t i n g i t up?"  "As l o n g as you can get i t up, you're  A-O.K.!" I rubbed a hand a c r o s s my eyes, almost as i f t o d i s p e l Rino's f a c e .  23  "Something the matter?" F i l i p p i asked.  "Family, huh?  W e l l , you've got your f a m i l y t o support and I've got my F i a t Topolino t o support. See t h i s s h i r t ? lire.  See these shoes?  Ten thousand.  Cost me t e n thousand See t h i s t i e ?  Three  thousand..." I went t o Rino's teacher t o e x p l a i n h i s absence.  She  looked a t me i n d i g n a n t l y , "I've been an educator f o r f o r t y years; f o r t y years o f my l i f e dedicated t o the mission o f education.  F o r t y e x c e l l e n t s on teaching evaluations from  twelve d i f f e r e n t p r i n c i p a l s . before I r e t i r e : priesthood. f o r Jesus!  I would l i k e j u s t one t h i n g  f o r a student of mine t o embrace the  A flower from my greenhouse i n the seminary; I t seemed as i f your Rino wanted t o give me  that s a t i s f a c t i o n . " She looked a t me and frowned.  "I'm t r e a t i n g you w i t h  f a m i l i a r i t y because you're young enough t o have been a student of mine, and I'm t e l l i n g you:  beware o f the curse o f God  hanging over your son's head!  Beware; Rino's s i c k , i s he?  An omen!  I t ' s a warning!"  I've always been i n d i f f e r e n t as f a r as r e l i g i o n ' s concerned. I only go t o Mass on h o l i d a y s because i t ' s one o f my h a b i t s . Standing outside my classroom w a i t i n g f o r the k i d s , I thought about the Grace o f God. About Father L i c o d o r i . About Limbo.  R e c o l l e c t i o n s of Dante tossed around i n my mind:  Limbo, the unbaptized babies... I t wasn't so much the melodramatic words o f Rino's teacher  24  that gave r i s e to t h i s voiceless t e r r o r , as i t was Don Licodori's calm words, that kept repeating themselves over and over again i n my head. "The beach s k i t t l e gets buried, so you say: Amiconi was  saying again.  i n the sand,"  "Did you hear the radio t h i s morning?"  he asked me a f t e r a while. Amiconi recounted the story he'd t o l d me yesterday, the day before yesterday, l a s t year, two years ago, three years ago. I knew he wasn't addressing me but himself. "The Tenth Committee of the O f f i c e of Education," he began, "is  drafting a b i l l :  a l l teachers who have forty-two years of  excellent-rated service plus three years of service i n a combat zone can r e t i r e at the l a s t point t o t a l of group A l e v e l VII. I'm waiting f o r them to get the law passed before I leave...." He should have r e t i r e d three years ago, and he's l i v i n g f o r the day they pass that law.  still  I got r i d of Amiconi  and went over and buttonholed our colleague Peschetti, who  was  musing over the Gazzetta dello Sport. "D'ya hear?" he says. "What?" "An Australian d i d the hundred meters i n ten point one s i x . This guy's a phenomenon!" phenomenon.  He showed me the picture of the  "And a Canadian did the two hundred i n twenty-three  point f i v e . . . . " The b e l l rang:  the hours of lessons were s t a r t i n g .  l e f t Rino with a temperature  of 40; now what?  I'd  25  I sat up there at my desk while the kids raised h e l l . Rino's teacher appeared r i g h t i n the middle of i t and l i f t e d her t h i n , bony hands.  "The hand of God!" she said with a  frightened look. "Quiet!" I y e l l e d at the k i d s .  I gave a couple of good  ones to the f i r s t k i d within reach, and a tense silence immediately s e t t l e d over the classroom. "Hands on your desks!" I y e l l e d . n a i l s one by one.  I checked t h e i r f i n g e r -  One of the kids stank of perfume, but he  was an i n d u s t r i a l i s t ' s son so I couldn't take i t out on him. The class dummy had d i r t y hands. "Disgusting! Disgusting!" I y e l l e d . now!"  "Let's see underneath  The boy l i f t e d up h i s smock to disclose an undershirt  d i r t y and patched and smelly enough to make you throw up. "luck!!" the kids started y e l l i n g . "Uh-huh," I s a i d .  "Fine!  boy's eyes and was shaken. tears.  Just f i n e ! "  I looked at the  They were intense and moist with  I wanted to be l e f t alone to think about Rino.  "Take out your ruled notebooks! thousand i n tenths!" I ordered. look at the k i d I'd m o r t i f i e d .  Number from one to a  While they wrote, I snuck a He smiled at me with almost  benevolent forgiveness. He who humiliates i s humiliated, I thought, thinking about home.  The doctor must be there now.  H e ' l l see Rino's  blanket and sheets, and the a t t i c where he sleeps.  26  I walked to and f r o i n the classroom, from my desk to the wall back to my desk.  • I ' l l have him be confirmed,' I thought,  f e e l i n g remorse f o r having opposed i t .  'Yuh, I ' l l have him  confirmed.' I couldn't wait to get home. Three more hours to go.  I kept looking at the clock.  Sixty, a hundred and twenty, a hundred  and eighty minutes. Two kids started screaming. into the other one's eye.  One had poked h i s pen nearly  Beside myself, I slapped one of them  across the face with the back of my hand.  I h i t the v i c t i m .  I walked back and f o r t h f o r another t h i r t y minutes, then decided to go ask the p r i n c i p a l f o r a h a l f hour's leave. Someone knocked at the door.  I t was the p r i n c i p a l .  "What are you a l l doing?" he asked the p u p i l s . "Counting from one to a thousand i n tenths," the head of the  class answered, as usual. "My son's s i c k .  Could I go home f o r h a l f an hour?" I  asked. The p r i n c i p a l looked at me and shook h i s head. l i k e to t e l l you an anecdote, Mr. Mombelli.  "I would  When we were  s t i l l a teacher, i t happened that our father was dying.  We  went to school as usual and forgot that our father was dying. And why?  Because, my dear man, we do not bring our personal  problems into the classroom.  Just think, Mr. Mombelli, of  the missionaries; remember that ours i s a mission. Let us see your c l a s s - r e g i s t e r , Mr. Mombelli!"  27  He l e a f e d through the r e g i s t e r and ran h i s hands through his hair. "Mr. Mombelli, pay attention to your loops!  The i must  touch the l i n e above i t ; the f must touch both the l i n e above and the l i n e below; the d on the other hand i s the only one that should not touch the l i n e above but should end just below i t at the same height as the t....Ah ha! done right!  Look at t h i s :  Not a single one  your b i s higher than your  your £ i s lower than your f .  i;  Excuse us, Mr. Mombelli, but  the r e g i s t e r i s an o f f i c i a l document." I looked down at h i s shoes thinking, 'He has toes too.' "We regret having to c r i t i c i z e you. should l i k e to t e l l you:  very good!  Oh, how much we  very good!  but....  You see, Mr. Mombelli, don't think of us as what we are. You mustn't think of us as a superior, but as a co-worker. We are a co-worker of the teachers.  I f you have some  pedagogical question, i f you have a d i f f i c u l t p u p i l , l e t us know:  ask us f o r advice, f o r an explanation.  Just think,  Mr. Mombelli, we took the c e r t i f i c a t i o n examination f o r p r i n c i p a l s at twenty-five. at the w r i t t e n . orals.  There were t h i r t y thousand of us  Three hundred of us were admitted to the  Three of us were given positions.  We were t h i r d i n  l i n e ; but the f i r s t two were war veterans with gold medals. And you r e a l i z e that a gold medal i s worth f i f t y points...." V i s i b l y s e l f - s a t i s f i e d , he rubbed h i s hands and looked at me.  I know I'm no good at b l u f f i n g .  I've got the kind of  28  eyes that immediately betray that voiceless grudge or rage that you f e e l towards somebody a l l puffed-up with s e l f satisfaction.  So then I think of t h i s guy washing h i s feet  or s i t t i n g on the t o i l e t or being scared when a dog barks at him, and that way I restore my i n t e r n a l equilibrium, •'What lesson have you prepared f o r t h i s morning, Mr. Mombelli?" "A lesson on....Christopher Columbus!" I s a i d .  I had  the kids open t h e i r books and began to explain. "But t h i s i s a book lesson! the p r i n c i p a l shouted.  Away with the bookish!"  "Active school!  Dramatize, Mr. Mombelli, dramatize!  L i v i n g school!  Stand up, p u p i l s , . . .  you're the crew!  You be Christopher Columbus," he said to  one of the boys.  "Your teacher w i l l be the s a i l o r who watches  f o r land....Mr. Mombelli, go to the window....Don't you have a telescope?" "No, as a matter of f a c t . " "No matter.  Ontogenesis repeats phylogenesis.  The  c h i l d has enough imagination to be able to substitute i n h i s thoughts the concept of glasses with the concept of a telescope." "So my glasses w i l l be the telescope?" "Exactly." Pretty soon the whole class was r a i l i n g against the boy who was playing Christopher Columbus.  29  "We're s i c k o f s a i l i n g ! " one y e l l e d . "We want t o go home!" y e l l e d another. "Calm down, crew!  Calm down, crew!" Columbus  yelled.  "I l e f t my w i f e , my k i d s ; what about my k i d s ? " "Calm down, crew, calm down!" "We'll never get t o America i n t h i s "To t h e I n d i e s ! " t h e p r i n c i p a l  direction!"  shouted.  "Calm down, crew, calm down!" "We're t h i r s t y ! " "We're hungry!" "Put him i n i r o n s , i n i r o n s , i n i r o n s , i n i r o n s - Columbus in  irons!" "Calm down, crew, calm down!" "You've been t e l l i n g us 'calm down, crew' f o r t h r e e y e a r s ! " "Four months," t h e p r i n c i p a l  corrected.  "You've been t e l l i n g us 'calm down, crew' f o r f o u r months!" The p r i n c i p a l b u s i e d h i m s e l f w i t h one p u p i l a f t e r another, t e l l i n g them t o y e l l out t h e names o f t h e i r s h i p s . "We on t h e P i n t a a r e t i r e d ! " "We on t h e Santa M a r i a are exhausted!" "We on t h e Nina can't stand i t any more!" "Calm down, crew, calm down!" "Put Columbus t o death! To death!  Put him t o death!  To death!"  "Calm down, crew, calm down!"  To death!  30  The your  p r i n c i p a l went over t o a boy,  " T e l l Columbus about  city!" "I'm  from T o r i n o a c i t y w i t h more than 600,000 i n h a b i t a n t s  i n the h e a r t o f the Piedmont where the Po R i v e r t h a t r i s e s Monviso flows i t has t r i b u t a r i e s t o the r i g h t and to the and flows i n t o the A d r i a t i c Sea where i t forms a wide  on  left  delta...."  "Calm down, crew, calm down!" The  p r i n c i p a l motioned to me  "Land!  t o shout.  Land!" I shouted.  " R e a l l y ? ! " Columbus y e l l e d . "Land!  Land!" I  repeated.  "Land l a n d l a n d l a n d l a n d l a n d l a n d l a n d l a n d ! " "Three cheers f o r Columbus!" the p r i n c i p a l shouted. "Three cheers f o r Columbus!" the crew shouted. "Now," the p r i n c i p a l s a i d , " f o r a r e s t from what we i n pedagogy i n d i v i d u a l i z e d these two *ti'):  call  c o l l e c t i v i s m ( I am w e l l aware t h a t  terms would seem t o c l a s h l i k e a 'do' p l a y e d w i t h  individualized  a b i t of fun.  c o l l e c t i v i s m , as I was  Children!  You  a l l like Barilla  s a y i n g , and  a now  spaghetti,  right?" The k i d s l o o k e d "Why,  at each  o f course!  other.  With B a r i l l a s p a g h e t t i i t ' s always  Sunday and on Sunday t h e r e ' s no Then he asked, "Who animal? that  school!"  can t e l l me  the name o f a h i b e r n a t i n g  Your t e a c h e r must have e x p l a i n e d t o you  hibernate?"  about animals  31  He l o o k e d a t me.  "You have e x p l a i n e d i t t o them,  " A c t u a l l y , I haven't the dog,"  g o t t e n t h e r e yet....we*re s t i l l on  I said.  "Mr. Mombelli, "Well!  correct?"  t r y and catch up,"  L e t ' s go on t o r e l i g i o n :  he whispered  t o me.  you, t e l l me - what was  Jesus' f i r s t miracle?" "The wedding a t Cana," t h e boy he'd c a l l e d on answered. "No!"  the p r i n c i p a l s a i d .  An i n q u i s i t i v e s i l e n c e f o l l o w e d .  The p u p i l s l o o k e d a t me.  Then the head o f the c l a s s s a i d , "The t e a c h e r t o l d u s so." "The wedding a t Cana was not a m i r a c l e o f Jesus," t h e principal  said.  The c l a s s dummy spoke up.  "The f i r s t m i r a c l e o f Jesus  took p l a c e a t the wedding a t Cana." "Good!" t h e p r i n c i p a l s a i d . not the wedding a t Cana!  "At t h e wedding a t Cana;  Now l e t ' s t r y t h i s one:  a monosyllabic o r p o l y s y l l a b i c  i s Italian  language?"  " P o l y s y l l a b i c ! " t h e c l a s s dummy s a i d , t a k i n g a shot i n the  dark. The p r i n c i p a l was p l e a s e d .  wasted h i s seed. he s a i d .  "That boy's f a t h e r hasn't  That seed w i l l y i e l d him seventy times  seven!"  He had the boy show him h i s notebook, and on t h e  t h i r d page changed h i s mind.  "Good heavens!  H i s l o o p s are l i k e  h i s teacher's....how can we stand f o r such w r i t i n g ? . . . . o n top of t h a t , n o t a s i n g l e d o t t e d i!....Mr. Mombelli, they dot t h e i r  i's...."  see t h a t  32  " I 1 1 see t h a t he dots h i s i ' s from here on," I s a i d . 1  "Henceforth, Mr. Mombelli. he c o r r e c t e d me.  Not from here on: h e n c e f o r t h , "  "See t o i t t h a t you do."  When he l e f t t h e r e was an hour y e t t o go. " L e t ' s go out i n t h e c o u r t y a r d f o r r e c e s s , " I s a i d .  In  the c o u r t y a r d w h i l e t h e k i d s were p l a y i n g , I thought about home. "Mr. Mombelli, have them p l a y Catch," t h e p r i n c i p a l  said.  "How do you p l a y i t ? " "Mr. Mombelli!  You don't know how t o p l a y Catch?!  you've g o t t e n t o your f o u r t h pay i n c r e a s e o f p o i n t t o t a l  And 271?...  Come t o t h e l i b r a r y and w e ' l l g i v e you a book on games!" He p i c k e d up t h e b a l l and threw i t t o a p u p i l who i n t u r n threw i t back t o him. "See, Mr. Mombelli, how you p l a y Catch?" "Bailie Bailie! Where have you been? I've been t o Grandma's! What have you seen? A n i c e l i t t l e chick! Show i t t o me quick! Here i t i s ! " "Do you see, Mr. Mombelli, how one p l a y s Catch?.... Come now, Mr. Mombelli, p l a y Catch...." F i n a l l y , I got home. over h i s temperature.  Rino was p l a y i n g q u i e t l y , completely  33  IV.  I've  been t r y i n g t o convince Ada  f o r t h r e e days now  not  t o go work i n a f a c t o r y . "The  gas man  comes and I have t o l o c k myself i n the house  and pretend I don't hear him. I have t o do the same t h i n g !  The The  e l e c t r i c i t y guy d o c t o r was  comes and  here and  obviously  he saw what k i n d o f a p l a c e . . . . " For two  whole n i g h t s she s t a y e d up l a t e , p a c i n g the room  i n her r a g s .  L a t e r , when i t s t r u c k t h r e e o ' c l o c k , I woke her  up.  She  gave h e r s e l f t o me h a l f a s l e e p .  "Why,  do I d i s g u s t you?"  "You  do i t t o h u m i l i a t e me,"  "Ada,  she s a i d .  d i g n i t y i s l i k e a c r u s t of t a r we  You're t r y i n g t o p e e l some o f f , and my Ada,  you  "Don't I d i s g u s t you?"  have on  us.  s k i n comes o f f w i t h i t .  can't go work!"  "Work i s ennobling," to i m i t a t e "Ada,  she s a i d i n a n a s a l v o i c e , t r y i n g  me. I've managed to make both ends meet so f a r .  don't h u m i l i a t e me.  My  w i f e i n a f a c t o r y — n o , Ada!  Ada,  Promise  me?" "No!" "Promise me,  Ada!"  " I f you r e a l l y want, but y o u ' l l be s o r r y ! " I was threat.  r e a s s u r e d by the promise, but uneasy about the  " Y o u ' l l be s o r r y , " she'd s a i d .  34  Two  days l a t e r I found the i n d u s t r i a l i s t , the f a t h e r o f  perfumed student, w a i t i n g f o r me •'Sir, your woman, she Me,  I gave'em t o h e r .  than you guys.  o u t s i d e my  came and  I know how  classroom.  asked me f o r f i f t y  bills.  i t i s - a p o r t e r gets more  But l i s t e n , Mr. Mombelli, e i t h e r you  quit  f a i l i n g my k i d o r t h e r e might be t r o u b l e i f I t o l d the My w i f e had It  gone and  "I  d i d n ' t know about i t ! " I mumbled. I got an i d e a you  sent her, Mr. Mombelli, and  you're t r y i n ' t o p l a y dumb!  O.K.  But we  hand-out at E a s t e r , you know.... I n c l a s s I c a l l e d the boy, desk.  you had  " B r i n g me  Bye now,  homework?  I'm  c o u l d s k i p the Sir!"  a l l your workbooks!"  a f o u r on t h i s one.  now  the i n d u s t r i a l i s t ' s son, I said.  up  "Here,  I ' l l c r o s s out the f o u r and  a t e n . . . F i v e . . . c r o s s out the f i v e :  ten.  me,  me.  "Me,  t o my  principal."  asked him f o r f i f t y thousand l i r e .  f e l t l i k e twenty, one hundred hands were p e e l i n g  skinning  my  t e n . . . D i d you do  not even going t o l o o k at i t :  I'm  put  your  g i v i n g you  T e l l your f a t h e r ! " The  p r i n c i p a l ' s here a g a i n .  "We  wanted t o see i f you've  been watching your l o o p s i n the c l a s s - r e g i s t e r , " he s a i d . Meanwhile he l o o k s a t the boy's workbook and sees a f o u r crossed out and a t e n underneath. "Mr.  Mombelli:  I'm  end o f p o i n t t o t a l 271!  amazed t h a t you have g o t t e n t o I..We  are t r u l y a s t o n i s h e d .  the  This  proves t h a t you know n e i t h e r the value o f a f o u r nor o f a t e n ! "  35  The thought t h a t Ada had gone t o ask f o r money was c r u s h i n g me. "Teacher, what do we do?" t h e head o f t h e c l a s s asked. "Composition!" "We d i d one yesterday." "And  w e ' l l do one today too."  composition  and s a i d , "Now l i s t e n :  want t o see a t l e a s t s i x pages.  I d i c t a t e d the t i t l e of a w r i t e slowly, slowly!  And no smart-aleck  I  tricks  l i k e w r i t i n g b i g and b e g i n n i n g new paragraphs a l l t h e t i m e . Watch your l o o p s ! " My c o l l e a g u e Amiconi came and got me. gone!"  We hung around i n t h e c o r r i d o r .  "The p r i n c i p a l ' s  Me, Amiconi and our  c o l l e a g u e s C i p o l l o n e and P a g l i a n i . " I t ' s almost E a s t e r , " P a g l i a n i s a i d .  "I've been making  'em s i n g V o l a , Colomba a l l morning!" C i p o l l o n e b u r s t o u t , "What a f e a s t l a s t n i g h t ! I had t h e best gnocchi!  Oh boy,  What I need i s some c h i c o r y c o f f e e .  C h i c o r y r e a l l y h i t s t h e spot!" "What's t h a t Tenth Committee w a i t i n g f o r t o get t h a t  bill  done?" Amiconi muttered. Then our c o l l e a g u e F i l i p p i came o u t .  " G e t t i n g i t up?  Oh boy, am I horny!" "Oh, shut up, you and your h o r n i n e s s , " Amiconi s a i d . " I t ' s a l l i n your head!" "What do you mean i t ' s a l l i n my head?" F i l i p p i furious.  Then he p u l l e d out a handkerchief  yelled,  and showed us where  36  i t had a l i p s t i c k s t a i n on i t and not j u s t l i p s t i c k . that?  "See  And you've got the nerve t o t e l l me i t ' s a l l i n my Amiconi  c a l l e d t o the j a n i t o r .  minestrone f o r lunch-without "No  way,"  "Go  head!"  t e l l my w i f e I want  cheese."  the j a n i t o r answered c a l m l y s i t t i n g t h e r e  r e a d i n g h i s paper, without r a i s i n g h i s eyes. "You  bum  o f a j a n i t o r ! " Amiconi  yelled.  present him w i t h a w r i t t e n request! We  Bum!"  caught s i g h t o f the p r i n c i p a l ' s s i l h o u e t t e a t the f a r  end o f the c o r r i d o r . instantly.  Pandemonium.  Except f o r Amiconi who  "Oh!  Ow!  A l l colleagues disappeared t w i s t e d h i s ankle r u n n i n g . . .  0-ow!" he moaned as the p r i n c i p a l went up t o  "What's happened, Amiconi?" he "I  "You have t o  was  and f e l l  asked.  j u s t g o i n g t o t h e l i b r a r y and I t w i s t e d my  down on t h e f l o o r , " Amiconi  ankle  s a i d l e a n i n g a g a i n s t the  w a l l w i t h h i s f o o t c r a d l e d i n h i s hands. "Well! principal "One Amiconi  I'd l i k e t o see you f a l l down on the a i r ! "  the  laughed. o f my  students asked me what D i a s p o r a means,"  said.  The p r i n c i p a l became s e r i o u s .  "Was  t h a t q u e s t i o n the  r e s u l t o f a momentary c a p r i c e on the p u p i l ' s p a r t o r was i t t r u l y an i n t e r n a l n e c e s s i t y ? " "An i n t e r n a l n e c e s s i t y , " Amiconi his  foot.  s a i d , p u t t i n g weight  on  him.  37  " D i a s p o r a . . . " the p r i n c i p a l r e f l e c t e d . something  "Diaspora...has  t o do w i t h the Jews...and w i t h seed as w e l l . . .  Diaspora...hm!  My memory...we'll go l o o k i t up."  Going back i n t o the classroom I heard a chorus o f t r e b l e s r i s i n g from P a g l i a n i * s room:  " F l y , white dove, f l y . . . "  Ada went t o work i n a f a c t o r y .  "I*ve doubled my l e s s o n s , "  I t o l d her. "I*m My  pregnant,"  she answered  me.  c o f f e e went down the wrong way.  "I*m  pregnant,"  I*d heard r i g h t .  "What?"  she r e p e a t e d . She l o o k e d at me  defiantly.  "I*ve made both ends meet f o r t h r e e l o n g enough.  I can  do i t f o r f o u r , " I s a i d . Ada gave me  a f i e r c e look.  "Are we going t o support t h e  baby on t h e f a m i l y allowance?" she s n a r l e d . "Ada,  don't go work i n a f a c t o r y !  1*11  do t w i c e as much  work, I ' l l l o o k f o r another j o b ; j u s t don't go!" I begged h e r . "The  f a c t o r y i s n ' t e x a c t l y a b r o t h e l , " she  said.  "I know that...Ada, I ' l l g i v e p r i v a t e l e s s o n s at n i g h t too instead." "Don't be stubborn; you t h i n k I wouldn't l i k e t o s t a y a t home and p l a y the 'Signora'? myself?  You t h i n k I'm  You don't t h i n k i t * s a s a c r i f i c e ?  screamed. Her o u t b u r s t l e f t me  mortified.  " F a c t o r y worker!" I s a i d w i t h d i s g u s t .  going t h e r e t o amuse Good God!"  she  38  She lowered h e r head. "•Worker!" I repeated  nastily.  "None o f my f r i e n d s a r e workers c e r t a i n l y , " she s a i d , drawing t h e words out, s u c k i n g them w i t h h e r l i p s , f a c e with h e r eyes.  and my  "But they have husbands who..." she  g e s t u r e d w i t h h e r hand.  "Not l i k e me, poor t h i n g ! "  She gets up an hour b e f o r e me every morning.  I hear  her l e a v e . " C o n s i d e r i n g how much you do, you c o u l d a t l e a s t put t h e p a s t a on," she t e l l s me every day a t noon. k i t c h e n work f a l l s t o me. she s a y s .  And so t h e  "Why a r e you making such a f a c e ? "  "There's n o t h i n g wrong w i t h i t . "  I know t h e r e ' s n o t h i n g wrong w i t h i t , but I f e e l  like  my d i g n i t y i s b e i n g compromised. "Go g e t t h e v e g e t a b l e s , " she t e l l s me. of  peace and q u i e t , I go.  So, f o r t h e sake  I'm g e t t i n g used t o i t now.  V.  There was a teachers* meeting today.  Our c o l l e a g u e  P i s q u a n i , head o f t h e S.N.O.O.Z.E. u n i o n was about t o l e a v e f o r Rome t o c o n f e r w i t h an u n d e r s e c r e t a r y .  Next t o him was  our c o l l e a g u e P a g l i a n i , head o f t h e S.N.E.E.Z.E. u n i o n , for  a fight.  ready  39  " L e t ' s g i v e the f l o o r t o Mr. P i s q u a n i , head o f the S.N.O.O.Z.E.," t h e p r i n c i p a l "My  dear c o l l e a g u e s !  said.  L a d i e s and gentlemen!  I am about  to l e a v e f o r Rome where I s h a l l be r e c e i v e d by t h e U n d e r s e c r e t a r y o f E d u c a t i o n , the Honorable E t t o r e B a d a l o n i .  I have some  connections w i t h the U n d e r s e c r e t a r y because I d i d my service with a cousin of h i s .  Yes, I know, my  military  dear c o l l e a g u e s ,  you t a l k t a l k t a l k but when i t comes t o t a c k l i n g someone important, i t always f a l l s t o me. who  L a s t y e a r I was  the  one  approached the superintendent o f s c h o o l s . " The p r i n c i p a l  coughed.  "....our d i s t i n g u i s h e d superintendent o f s c h o o l s t h r e e times.  I approached the c h i e f a d m i n i s t r a t i v e o f f i c e r  times...My dear c o l l e a g u e s , I ' l l  five  share w i t h you what I'm  going  t o present t o the honorable U n d e r s e c r e t a r y o f E d u c a t i o n : elementary  The  s c h o o l t e a c h e r s I am r e p r e s e n t i n g want, f i r s t o f  t o r e c e i v e tenure a t p o i n t t o t a l 202 and not a t 229!  all:  Second:  t o s t a y at p o i n t t o t a l 202 not e i g h t e e n but n i n e y e a r s .  To  i n c r e a s e the s a l a r y b r a c k e t s w i t h i n a p o i n t t o t a l from f o u r t o twenty w i t h doubled pay i n c r e a s e s .  To be a t p o i n t t o t a l  from the n i n t h year o f t e a c h i n g s e r v i c e r a t h e r than,  325  as  p r e s e n t l y , from the n i n e t e e n t h year; and then t o f o l l o w i t w i t h p o i n t t o t a l 432, which would be comparable t o the p o i n t t o t a l o f a Group A, l e v e l V I I I o f f i c e worker doing Furthermore,  overtime.  I request t h a t pensions be granted a f t e r t e n  y e a r s o f s e r v i c e p r o v i d i n g the t e a c h e r has t e n e x c e l l e n t s  40  on t e a c h i n g  evaluations."  A c o l l e a g u e got up.  " I say i t should be e i g h t e x c e l l e n t s  and two very goods." "I'll Then I ' l l  accept t h a t :  e i g h t e x c e l l e n t s and two very goods.  ask f o r f o u r t e e n months* pay and f o r o u r s p e c i a l  reduced r a i l r o a d f a r e t o be lowered another 3 1 # « 1*11 ask them t o study t h e b i l l I*ve d r a f t e d : o f a t l e a s t t e n years*  Furthermore,  t h a t a bonus  s e r v i c e be granted t o elementary  s c h o o l t e a c h e r s who saw combat i n A f r i c a from June 10, September 27,  1940 t o  1943*  "What about my having fought  i n Russia?"  a colleague  shouted. "Furthermore, I ' l l  ask o f t h e Honorable E t t o r e  Badaloni  t h a t t h e s a l a r i e s o f those a t p o i n t t o t a l 229 be r a i s e d 3 3 » 1 # . And  a l l the others 4 3 . 1 7 # «  L a d i e s and gentlemen, I i n v i t e  you t o j o i n S.N.O.O.Z.E.!" "That's b l a c k m a i l ! " P a g l i a n i y e l l e d .  " J o i n S.N.E.E.Z.E.  instead!" " Q u i e t a non movere e t mota q u i e t a r e ! " t h e p r i n c i p a l s a i d , calming them.  " L e t * s g i v e t h e f l o o r t o Mr. P a g l i a n i o f  S.N.E.E.Z.E. now." "Colleagues!  I n t h e space o f a few years your s a l a r i e s  have doubled, thanks t o t h e e f f o r t s o f S.N.E.E.Z.E. you who have f a m i l i e s :  Those o f  i n a few months dependents' allowances  w i l l go up two hundred l i r e f o r wives and t h r e e hundred f o r each c h i l d .  T h i s p a r t i a l success i s due t o S.N.E.E.Z.E.,  41  which had asked f o r an i n c r e a s e o f t h r e e thousand l i r e .  At  l e a s t we got something." "I  want t h e Tenth Committee t o approve t h a t  bill..."  Amiconi shouted. "S.N.O.O.Z.E. i s a g a i n s t t h a t b i l l ! "  Pisquani  yelled.  "S.N.E.E.Z.E. backs i t ! " Amiconi got up, went t o t h e middle o f t h e room, p u l l e d out  a membership card and t o r e i t up.  "I'm j o i n i n g  S.N.E.E.Z.E.,"  he s a i d . "Remember, S.N.E.E.Z.E. i s t r y i n g t o s a d d l e us w i t h service ratings!" Pagliani "You're darn r i g h t !  civil  yelled. So we can g e t a 3.2$ s a l a r y i n c r e a s e ! "  " I n s t e a d S.N.O.O.Z.E. i s f i g h t i n g t o s t o p us from b e i n g i n c l u d e d i n those r a t i n g s . r a i s e s j u s t f o r us!  That way w e ' l l be a b l e t o g e t  Three cheers f o r S.N.O.O.Z.E.!"  "Three cheers f o r S.N.E.E.Z.E. "Down w i t h S.N.E.E.Z.E.!  Down w i t h S.N.O.O.Z.E.!"  Three cheers f o r S.N.O.O.Z.E.!"  " P i s q u a n i , f i n d out where t h a t b i l l the  stands now:  Tenth Committee t o g e t a move on!" Amiconi  go t e l l  yelled.  The p r i n c i p a l s t o o d up. "We a r e n o t m a t e r i a l i s t s .  Now t h a t we have d e a l t w i t h 1  and d i s c u s s e d t h e f i n a n c i a l a s p e c t , l e t us e l e v a t e o u r thoughts for  a moment.  L e t us t a l k about t h e c h i l d r e n . "  One o f t h e women t e a c h e r s stood up.  "Mr. P r i n c i p a l , t h e  f a t h e r o f one o f o u r p u p i l s came t o us wanting us t o exempt  42  his  son from r e l i g i o u s t r a i n i n g !  down our s p i n e .  trampled  We f e l t  that  Our f a i t h was a n n i h i l a t e d when he  s a i d , 'I've thought i t over!'  Pisquani y e l l e d .  c o l d s h i v e r s run  We s a i d , 'Think i t over w e l l . '  he was t h i n k i n g i t over.  "You  We f e l t  We remained i n t r a n s i g e n t . "  on A r t i c l e Two o f t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n ! " "What about freedom o f r e l i g i o n ? "  "We happen t o i n c u l c a t e r e l i g i o n ! " she shouted. task i s t o i n c u l c a t e r e l i g i o n . change jobs...pardon,  "Our  And i f you don't agree,  missions..."  The p r i n c i p a l d u l y noted t h e occurence, then s a i d , "The town c o u n c i l has a p p r o p r i a t e d one hundred thousand l i r e f o r s c h o o l expenses.  We c o u l d d i s p o s e o f them as we wish, but  f i r s t , d e m o c r a t i c a l l y , we would l i k e t o hear your o p i n i o n s . " A c o l l e a g u e a t p o i n t t o t a l 32$ s a l a r y bracket #4 on h e r t h i r t e e n t h pay i n c r e a s e got up. the sura f o r a door. to  "Gentlemen, I propose we use  I t ' s demeaning f o r t h e t e a c h e r s t o have  go i n and out t h e same door as t h e j a n i t o r s .  L e t ' s have a  door made f o r them." Another c o l l e a g u e , a t p o i n t t o t a l 271, s a i d , "My desk i s too low.  And I don't have a c o a t r a c k . . . "  The p r i n c i p a l  duly  noted. "I  t h i n k we should buy s l i p p e r s f o r t h e j a n i t o r s , " a  c o l l e a g u e a t p o i n t t o t a l 202 overtime s a i d .  "When they go by  i n t h e c o r r i d o r , t h e i r f o o t s t e p s d i s t u r b my t e a c h e r - p u p i l rapport!"  The p r i n c i p a l d u l y n o t e d .  43  "The  j a n i t o r s need doors, not s l i p p e r s ! " the 325  Amiconi got up.  "Mr.  yelled.  P r i n c i p a l , l a d i e s and gentlemen!  A f t e r f o r t y - s i x years o f s e r v i c e and f o r t y - s i x e x c e l l e n t s , the g r e a t s o v e r e i g n of A n t i o c h has named me Everyone applauded.  Commendatore!"  The p r i n c i p a l , as he s t a t e d , wanted  p e r s o n a l l y t o shake h i s hand. "And  t h a t ' s not a l l !  The O f f i c e o f E d u c a t i o n has  me w i t h a g o l d medal f o r e d u c a t i o n a l m e r i t , " Amiconi  decorated  said.  A f t e r having h e l d up and read t h e commendatory s c r o l l s a i d , "The  he  g o l d medal c o s t s one hundred thousand l i r e .  t h a t i t ' s o f any importance t o me,  Not  but t o you, my,dear  c o l l e a g u e s , i t s h o u l d be o f g r e a t importance t o have i n t h e midst  o f you a g o l d m e d a l i s t . " A young c o l l e a g u e , p r o b a b l y at p o i n t t o t a l 271 s a l a r y  b r a c k e t #3, of  got up, waving a book.  " T h i s i s my  first  volume  poetry!" "Read some o f them!" came from a l l s i d e s . The youth a c t e d coy, then s a i d , " I s h a l l read:  to  "Prelude  t h e Wedding Night"." " F o r p i t y ' s sake!  F o r p i t y ' s sake!" t h e women y e l l e d .  A few at t h e l a s t p o i n t t o t a l plugged t h e i r e a r s . " C a r e f u l now," at  the p r i n c i p a l s a i d , l o o k i n g s i g n i f i c a n t l y  the youth's C a t h o l i c A c t i o n badge. He read "Prelude t o t h e Wedding N i g h t " and then, encouraged  by the benevolent  comments, went on to  another poem.  44  The p r i n c i p a l c o n g r a t u l a t e d the p o e t - c o l l e a g u e .  "Your  p o e t r y i s p r e c i o u s as a diamond, and, l i k e the diamond, has i t s facets of  preciosity."  The youth thanked him and s a i d , "The  printer's  asked  me  f o r one hundred thousand l i r e t o p r i n t a thousand c o p i e s . So...." P i s q u a n i got up and i n t e r r u p t e d him. " P o e t r y i s i r r e l e v a n t these days!" he "Sir,  how  yelled.  dare you..." t h e p r i n c i p a l shouted.  " I am a l e f t i s t  intellectual!  I'm  t e l l i n g you,  science  has d e f e a t e d f a i t h ! " P i s q u a n i shouted even l o u d e r . There was  pandemonium among the women.  l a s t point t o t a l fainted.  Those at the middle p o i n t t o t a l were,  t o say t h e l e a s t ! , i n d i g n a n t . they  A couple at the  "Our  c o l l e a g u e must a p o l o g i z e ! "  yelled. " Q u i e t a non movere et mota q u i e t a r e ! " t h e p r i n c i p a l  shouted.  "Mr.  P i s q u a n i , what you have j u s t s a i d at t h i s  meeting w i l l go d i r e c t l y onto your p e r s o n a l r e c o r d ! " , P i s q u a n i ran h i s hand over h i s f a c e as everyone s t a r e d at .him.  The room buzzed:  "...personal record!  On h i s  personal record!" " C o l l e a g u e s , I was me who me!  a f a i t h f u l , devout man.  d e s e r t e d the church.  L e t me put my  p a r t i c u l a r case.  I t was  case t o you. I...."  My  But i t wasn't  t h e church t h a t d e s e r t e d p e r s o n a l case.  A very  45  " Q u i e t a non movere et mota q u i e t a r e ! " the interrupted "...I  principal  him. j u s t meant I've w r i t t e n a book e n t i t l e d A B i t o f  Cosmic Science which would be much more r e l e v a n t than colleague's poetry!" Pisquani  our  said.  The p r i n c i p a l d u l y n o t e d . Rino's t e a c h e r got up.  "Mr.  Pisquani..."  " I f you p l e a s e , M i s s , " the p r i n c i p a l s a i d , "you  must  d i r e c t your question t o us and we i n t u r n w i l l d i r e c t i t to your c o l l e a g u e P i s q u a n i . " "Mr.  P r i n c i p a l , c o u l d you p l e a s e ask Mr.  P i s q u a n i whether  i t i s t r u e t h a t he has done, e v e r y t h i n g i n h i s power t o a p u p i l o f h i s from e n t e r i n g the seminary and mission of "Yes,  dissuade  embracing the  missions?" and I'm  proud o f i t ! "  yelled  Rino's t e a c h e r b u r s t i n t o t e a r s . f o r t y years!  F o r t y years without  Pisquani. "I've been working f o r  succeeding  i n sending  to the seminary...and I . . . f e e l l i k e my....mission has  a pupil  been  useless!" Her t e a r s moved everyone a b i t .  "There are no words t o  express our profound s o l i d a r i t y w i t h you,"  the p r i n c i p a l  She began t o c r y h a r d e r , but e x p l a i n e d t h a t i t was she was to me,  so touched.  "Your s o l i d a r i t y , Mr.  said. because  P r i n c i p a l , i s balm  balm...!"  I t was  evening  by the time the meeting was  finally  P i s q u a n i and C i p o l l o n e and Amiconi and I went t o t h e  over.  Bar.  46  " L i s t e n , P i s q u a n i , go t e l l t h e Tenth Committee t o g e t a move on.  There're people who've been w a i t i n g f o r t h r e e y e a r s . . . "  " I a l r e a d y promised you. promise," P i s q u a n i s a i d .  And w i t h me a promise i s a  "More t o t h e p o i n t , how about p a y i n g  your S.N.O.O.Z.E. dues?" "If  you get t h e Tenth Committee t o . . . "  "Cough i t up!" "How much i s i t ? " Amiconi  asked.  " C o n t r i b u t i n g members, a thousand l i r e . a hundred thousand "All  lire!"  r i g h t , a thousand l i r e , "  s a i d Amiconi, p a y i n g h i s  dues and m u t t e r i n g , "S.N.E.E.Z.E. i s f a i r e r . members, f i v e hundred l i r e ; lire."  S u s t a i n i n g members,  Contributing  s u s t a i n i n g members, a thousand  He watched P i s q u a n i put t h e t h o u s a n d - l i r e b i l l i n h i s  pocket. I ordered coffees at the b a r . "Wait a minute, who's paying?" Amiconi " I t ' s on me," I s a i d  said.  recklessly.  " I want c h i c o r y c o f f e e .  Ah!  Chicory!" said  Cipollone.  Another customer near our t a b l e wanted c o f f e e t o o .  The  w a i t r e s s , p a s s i n g h i s t a b l e , gave him h i s c o f f e e f i r s t and then brought us o u r s . "Where was she brought up?" C i p o l l o n e shouted. Who taught you manners?  We ordered our c o f f e e f i r s t  served t h a t guy b e f o r e u s ! "  "You s l u t ! and you  47  "You  mean me?" t h e man s a i d .  "Yes, you!  You t h i n k I don't know who you are?  You t h i n k  I don't know you're n o t even i n group C?" C i p o l l o n e y e l l e d . The w a i t r e s s stood t h e r e not knowing whether t o answer. With one eye she watched t h e owner o f t h e bar, w i t h t h e o t h e r us and C i p o l l o n e . "Get out o f here, s l u t ! " C i p o l l o n e shouted. us m i d d l e c l a s s guys t h a t never g e t any r e s p e c t . taxes down t o t h e l a s t l i r a ! s h a l l obey! "Oh,  " I t ' s always We pay our  We go o f f t o war s a y i n g , we  We're t h e f r i g g i n g backbone o f I t a l y ! "  go p i s s i n your pants!" t h e w a i t r e s s s n a r l e d .  I p i c k e d up a paper and s t a r t e d r e a d i n g i t . "How can you read t h e paper i n a bar?" Amiconi asked "If  I'm not i n t h e bathroom I can't "You  too?" C i p o l l o n e s a i d .  read."  "Would you b e l i e v e i t ,  whenever I go i n t h e bathroom I take a book! f i v e , t e n , twenty minutes t i l l  me.  I stay i n there  my w i f e comes t o see what's  wrong..." "No, n o t me!  I had a l i t t l e  s h e l f made i n t h e bathroom  and I j u s t f i l l e d i t up w i t h books," Amiconi s a i d .  "That  way...you'd be s u r p r i s e d how many books I've read i n t h e r e . " "A s h e l f !  Good i d e a , I ' l l have one made t o o , " C i p o l l o n e  said. "There're disadvantages,"  Amiconi s a i d .  "My w i f e s t a y s  i n t h e r e f o r hours on end." The p r i n c i p a l entered and we a l l jumped t o our f e e t .  48  "'Good evening, Mr, P r i n c i p a l ! " "At s c h o o l we a r e t h e p r i n c i p a l , but o u t s i d e o f i t we are P r o f e s s o r P e r e g h i ! " t h e p r i n c i p a l s a i d , s i t t i n g down at our  table. " P r o f e s s o r , " Amiconi s a i d , " I came a c r o s s a word I don't  know t h e meaning o f .  The word i s t e t r a p l e g y .  What does  t e t r a p l e g y mean?" The p r i n c i p a l s a i d t h a t he couldn't r e c a l l r i g h t on t h e spot, but he'd known i t once. he  "My memory i s l e t t i n g me down!"  sighed. P i s q u a n i s a i d , "Mr....Professor,  t h e r e ' s a word t h a t ' s  i n t h e M e l z i d i c t i o n a r y but not i n t h e Z i n g a r e l l i . " "What word i s t h a t ? " t h e p r o f e s s o r asked. "Antepgementa," P i s q u a n i  said.  "Are you c e r t a i n i t ' s n o t i n t h e Z i n g a r e l l i ? " t h e p r o f e s s o r asked. "Positive." "Practipedista  i s n ' t i n the Z i n g a r e l l i either,"  said  Amiconi. A f t e r having  s a t t h e r e f o r a moment deep i n thought, t h e  professor-principal lire!  s a i d , "That's how w e ' l l use t h e one hundred  W e ' l l buy d i c t i o n a r i e s ! "  49  VI.  Ada  shows me h e r paycheck at the end o f every month,  silently. I'm  Numbers t a l k . h u m i l i a t e d t h a t my w i f e earns more than I  " I l o o k e d at your pay s c a l e s , " Ada  said.  do.  " I earn as much  as a t e a c h e r at p o i n t t o t a l 2 7 1 s a l a r y bracket # 4 ! " I c o u l d g i v e fewer l e s s o n s and r e s t more. t h a t she's a worker and  earns more than me  me than g i v i n g l e s s o n s does. new  we  takes more out  of  She's w r i t t e n I.O.U.'s t o get  f u r n i t u r e and some o t h e r s t u f f .  the way  But the thought  The house i s changing  and our r e l a t i o n s h i p " h a v e changed.  Before, when I woke h e r up i n the middle o f the n i g h t she'd g i v e h e r s e l f t o me  gladly.  She  seemed t o l i k e t h a t  brusque awakening.  L a s t time, she got mad.  dammit!" she s a i d .  "The  get up i n a few  got t o  o f t a l k i n g , those words l i k e crap, what  g i v e s a damn? get on my  "Don't t e l l I beg  s h i f t s have changed and I've  sleep,  hours!"  That common way the h e l l , who  " L e t me  nerves.  anybody you're working i n a f a c t o r y ,  Ada!"  her. She  answers, "What's wrong w i t h working i n a f a c t o r y ? "  " I t seems l i k e our d i g n i t y ' s b e i n g compromised," I respond. " I t ' s not working t h a t compromises our d i g n i t y , " she answers p e d a n t i c a l l y . her  smile.  Her v o i c e sounds i r o n i c , l i k e h e r f a c e ,  50  ••What must everybody t h i n k ? " I say. w i f e who  "A t e a c h e r w i t h a  works i n a f a c t o r y ! "  I t h i n k myself s i n c e r e i n my  sad-sounding t a l k , and  comes back r i g h t away w i t h , " W e l l , what about me? people who  know I'm  a t e a c h e r ' s w i f e t h i n k about  "Remember the s c h o o l i s a s e l e c t environment.  she  What must me?" You have  t o pass the c e r t i f i c a t i o n exams and have s t u d i e d t o be a b l e t o get i n .  I t ' s not l i k e a f a c t o r y ! "  " I f i t wasn't f o r me working...."  she answers, l o o k i n g  around at a l l the t h i n g s she's bought. "You're p e t t y ! " "You're the one who's p e t t y , not wanting me t o earn anything! would you  Not l i k i n g i t when I earn more than you do!...Or rather....?"  She'd s t r u c k home.  Yes, I'd r a t h e r j u s t me work, and  wear myself out w i t h l e s s o n s ; I'd r a t h e r have my f a m i l y go around i n rags underneath, have us r i s k c u t t i n g a p r e t t y poor f i g u r e i f one o f us suddenly gets s i c k , than have my w i f e go out and work. And I s u f f e r when Ada says t o me,  "Give me t h i s !  Give  me t h a t ! " and I have t o obey, otherwise she immediately "I've worked t e n hours!  adds,  I've worked twelve hours!", which  sounds t o me l i k e she's f l i n g i n g i t i n my She does a l o t o f o v e r t i m e .  face.  The thought t h a t she s t a y s  away u n t i l midnight, one o ' c l o c k , makes me  constipated.  Not  51  because o f h e r coming home a t t h a t hour, but because o f t h e people who see h e r , I walk h e r t o h e r f a c t o r y t a k i n g t h e l o n g way around through back s t r e e t s , and then I go p i c k h e r up and we go by the  P i a z z a p r e t e n d i n g we were a t t h e movies.  my n a i v e i d e a s .  That's one o f  To t h i n k you can pretend i n a town l i k e  Vigevano. "Saw you w i t h your w i f e l a s t n i g h t .  Where'd you go?"  C i p o l l o n e asked me. "To t h e movies," I answered. C i p o l l o n e winked the  car.  at F i l i p p i .  "Liar!  We f o l l o w e d you i n  You went t o wait f o r your w i f e t o come out o f t h e  factory!" F i l i p p i said. "Oh,  your w i f e ' s a f a c t o r y worker?" Amiconi  asked.  "Rino's s t u d i e s c o s t t o o much," I j u s t i f i e d m y s e l f . "Don't make me l a u g h ! " C i p o l l o n e r e t o r t e d . "He reads a l o t , you know!  H e ' l l be a Group A," I s a i d  t riumphantly• "Time w i l l t e l l * " Amiconi  said.  The thought o f Rino as a f u t u r e Group A i s t h e hope t h a t h e l p s me f o r g e t t h e p r e s e n t .  The t a r .  Even i f i t t o o i s a  t a r r e d thought, a t a r r e d hope. And Ada keeps on working and e a r n i n g .  That money g i v e s  me t h e f e e l i n g o f i t s b e i n g s t o l e n . "I've  got enough money t o buy t h r e e s u i t s f o r Rino,"  she says t o me.  52  "Keep i t .  So do I , " I answer.  She undresses and l i n g e r s i n f r o n t s i l k negligee. "Who  o f the m i r r o r i n a  A g o l d watch gleams on h e r w r i s t .  gave i t t o you?" I ask.  She shakes h e r head.  " I bought i t f o r myself!  Since  a l l the o t h e r workers are always showing each o t h e r p r e s e n t s t h e i r men it  to  g i v e *em,  I bought the watch and t e l l 'era you gave  me!"  VII.  So Sunday's gone by t o o . d i e ; a matter o f a few h o u r s .  Another u s e l e s s day about t o I c a l l i t u s e l e s s but  I've spent days even more u s e l e s s t h a n t h i s : t o g e t h e r might  realize  days t h a t a l l  add up t o more than t e n y e a r s ' worth o f time.  T h i s morning I got up l a t e . up l a t e makes me f e e l l i k e I'm  My  Sunday h a b i t .  e n j o y i n g Sunday.  Getting  In fact,  a l l week I l o n g f o r Sunday j u s t so I can enjoy t h i s h a b i t o f g e t t i n g up l a t e . I took a walk a l o n g the arcades w i t h my w i f e and Rino, k i l l i n g time u n t i l noon; then we went to Mass. way  I spent the f i r s t h a l f o f Sunday.  d i n n e r , I t o l d myself, "Today I'm at the Bar."  That's the  At home, b e f o r e  not going t o go p l a y cards  53  That's another h a b i t ; spending cards.  Sunday a f t e r n o o n p l a y i n g  I knew g i v i n g i t up would be h a r d , so t o outsmart  myself I got undressed  and put my s l i p p e r s on.  But when t h e  time came - one t h i r t y , t h a t i s - I couldn't h e l p i t . should I g i v e up my Scoop game, I asked myself. a l l week!  Why  I've worked  I got d r e s s e d a g a i n and went t o t h e B a r .  My Scoop p a r t n e r s a r e P a l l a v i c i n o , t h e r e p o r t e r , and two  o t h e r guys.  Even though I've p l a y e d w i t h them every  Sunday f o r y e a r s , I c o u l d n ' t t e l l Scoop i s e s s e n t i a l t o u s .  you who t h e y a r e .  I t restores our e q u i l i b r i u m .  We swear a t each o t h e r over bad p l a y s .  We accuse o u r p a r t n e r  of h a v i n g broken up a p a i r and thus h a v i n g made a b i g mistake, o r o f h a v i n g made a b i g mistake by not b r e a k i n g up a p a i r . We defend o u r s e l v e s a g a i n s t these a c c u s a t i o n s and t r y t o show what a g r e a t p l a y we made, and i n t u r n accuse our p a r t n e r o f not having p l a y e d s c i e n t i f i c a l l y , and so on f o r t h e whole wretched Sunday a f t e r n o o n . These a r e t h e Sundays i n my l i f e .  L e a v i n g t h e B a r when  the day's over, t h e P i a z z a s i l e n t and d e s e r t e d ; w i t h t h e game, my winnings,  satisfied  o r mad because o f my l o s s e s .  Those Sunday c a r d games then become t h e t o p i c t h a t  fills  up empty hours d u r i n g t h e week.... " I took i n a f o u r and a t h r e e w i t h a seven and made a b u i l d w i t h t h e one and t h e s i x . "  " I l e t t h e seven go around  and t h a t way we got a p r i m i e r a p l u s 1 p o i n t f o r t h e seven o f diamonds."  " I opened and d i d n ' t l e t anybody get a Scoop."  54  Around f i v e , the r e p o r t e r g i v e s h i s seat t o somebody e l s e and goes t o watch Vigevano p l a y .  I t h i n k s o c c e r does more f o r  h i s e q u i l i b r i u m than Scoop does.  He devotes a whole page i n  t h e paper t o s o c c e r .  t h i n k i n g t h a t s o c c e r does  Today I was  something f o r the e q u i l i b r i u m of a l o t o f p e o p l e .  Why  thousands o f people go watch o t h e r s p l a y b a l l , I asked  do myself.  There must be some k i n d o f s p e c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p between man  and the game.  I t must be a d i f f e r e n t r e l a t i o n s h i p from  the one w i t h c a r d s , because nobody has f u n watching f o u r guys p l a y c a r d s . I went t o t h e stadium  today t o o .  A gray sky t h a t looked  l i k e i t wanted t o f a l l on our heads and a crowd o f thousands and thousands o f p e o p l e . workers, people who  They were f a c t o r y and  were spending  office  more than a day's pay f o r  those n i n e t y minutes. I watched the twenty-two p l a y e r s chasing a f t e r each o t h e r around a b a l l and p a s s i n g t h e b a l l back and and I j u s t couldn't understand  what i t was  b i n d t h e crowd t o t h e p l a y e r s , t o the b a l l .  forth,  t h a t seemed to The  crowd  was  s h o u t i n g , c u r s i n g ; s t a r t e d s h o u t i n g a g a i n , swearing at the referee.  I l o o k e d at the r e p o r t e r , who  was  shaking h i s  head and t a k i n g n o t e s . " I t ' s no good!" he was t o have those two  muttering.  " I t o l d t h e coach  f u l l b a c k s p i c k up t h e wings.  t o have t h e c e n t e r forward p l a y i n s i d e . s t r a t e g y here - daimnit, o f t a c t i c s . "  I told  him  I t ' s a question of  55  He wanted me t o come t o the d r e s s i n g room w i t h him a t halftime.  "You don't understand a n y t h i n g ! " he s t a r t e d  y e l l i n g a t the coach.  " I f you wanna win, you've got t o have  the two h a l f b a c k s drop t o f u l l b a c k ! a t t a c k i n g game!  You've got t o p l a y an  You saw what a c a s t - i r o n defense L e f f e ' s  got!" "The team's s t a y i n g j u s t l i k e i t i s ! " the coach s a i d . "I'm  t e l l i n g you, get r i d o f t h a t  "I'm  not g e t t i n g r i d o f him!"  "O.K., I'm  fullback!"  going t o a t t a c k you i n the paper, then!"  I n the second h a l f , L e f f e s c o r e d a couple o f g o a l s a g a i n s t Vigevano. happily.  " I t o l d you so!" the r e p o r t e r y e l l e d  H i s e q u i l i b r i u m was  restored.  Now  he'd go home  and d r a f t a whole page-long a r t i c l e ; he'd a t t a c k the coach, p r a i s e some o f the p l a y e r s , c r i t i c i z e o t h e r s , and a t t h e end g i v e h i s a d v i c e f o r t h e next match. I've known him and read him f o r twenty y e a r s ; i n twenty years he hasn't missed a match o r passed up one chance t o say his piece.  That's  equilibrium.  So I've d i s c o v e r e d how  one i n d i v i d u a l manages t o f e e l  i n harmony w i t h h i m s e l f and t h e w o r l d .  But what about a l l  the o t h e r s ? There, i t ' s s t r i k i n g m i d n i g h t .  Sunday i s dead.  My  q u e s t i o n ends up w i t h a l l the o t h e r s I've asked myself and haven't been a b l e t o answer.  56  From t h i s Sunday t o next, a hundred s i x t y - e i g h t hours w i l l have t o go by, one by one.  VIII.  The hundred s i x t y - e i g h t hours have gone by. Sunday's  almost o v e r .  Another  What d i d I do w i t h those hundred  s i x t y - e i g h t hours? Twenty-five I spent a t s c h o o l .  Another t w e n t y - f i v e  g i v i n g l e s s o n s and t u t o r i n g , and t h a t makes f i f t y . s i x t y used up s l e e p i n g .  And t h e o t h e r f i f t y - e i g h t ?  About A half  dozen went f o r meals, another couple f o r odds and ends, and my h a b i t s used up t h e o t h e r f i f t y .  My h a l f hour a t t h e B a r  b e f o r e g o i n g t o s c h o o l , t h e hour o r so a t t h e B a r a f t e r d i n n e r , t h e hour l y i n g down a f t e r I f i n i s h t u t o r i n g , t h e r e s t t a l k i n g t o my c o l l e a g u e s and t h e r e p o r t e r , u n t i l a hundred and s i x t y - e i g h t hours a r e used up. I  r e a l i z e my l i f e i s j u s t one l o n g s e r i e s o f squandered  hours, o f wasted t i m e . wonder.  But what am I supposed t o do?, I  "What am I supposed t o do?" I asked an o l d e r  colleague. "What a r e you w o r r y i n g about?" she answered. got  "You've  tenure by now." I'm w a i t i n g t o j u s t jump from one p o i n t t o t a l and  s a l a r y b r a c k e t t o another a u t o m a t i c a l l y , l i k e I always have  57  up t o now;  w a i t i n g t o jump r i g h t i n t o r e t i r e m e n t , so I  can  f i n a l l y r e c o v e r from t h i s i n t e n s e l i f e . Ada spent h e r hundred and s i x t y - e i g h t hours d i f f e r e n t l y . At l e a s t n i n e t y she spent working.  Maybe even more.  n i g h t I wanted t o take h e r t o the movies.  "I'm  Last  tired,"  she  answered• "We  used t o go on F r i d a y ; now  we  go on Saturday,"  "You'd be b e t t e r o f f a t the  Bar."  At t h e Bar the r e p o r t e r was  a r g u i n g w i t h my  Cipollone.  " I went by the h o s p i t a l w i t h my  C i p o l l o n e was  s a y i n g , "and I t o l d  f o r Advanced Mental Research.' asked me.  *em,  students,"  'That's the  Clinic  'Who's i n t h e r e ? ' the k i d s  joke!" P a l l a v i c i n o y e l l e d .  The d i s c u s s i o n t u r n e d t o f o o d . C i p o l l o n e was  answered.  colleague  'The m e n t a l l y r e t a r d e d , * I answered."  "That's my  "Oh,  I said.  saying.  "You  stole  " I don't l i k e  " I can't see how  it!"  chicken,"  anybody can eat  it!"  but the c h i c k e n my mother makes!" P a l l a v i c i n o "Mm,  whole g r a i n . "So who  the chicken my mother makes. You've never eaten a n y t h i n g l i k e  hasn*t  eaten g r a i n - f e d chicken?  She feeds them it!" The f a c t i s  i t * s disgusting!" " W e l l , i t wasn't g r a i n - f e d chicken then,"  Pallavicino  said. See:  I spent a t l e a s t t h r e e hours j u s t l i s t e n i n g t o  this discussion.  58  The P i a z z a was dead.  At t h e u s u a l time, p u n c t u a l l y ,  t h e c u s t o m - b u i l t A l f a Romeo drove up w i t h t h e f a t i n d u s t r i a l i s t and h i s w i f e .  At t h e C a f f e S o c i a l e t h e same o l d f a c e s were  s t i l l hanging around. The r e p o r t e r came up t o me and s a i d , " I put you i n my article." "Me?" "Your name'll be i n t h e paper."  He p u l l e d out t h e p r o o f  copy o f h i s a r t i c l e , then a l l t h e o t h e r p r o o f s t h a t make up the paper.  "These s h o r t a r t i c l e s are c a l l e d f i l l e r s .  The  f i r s t and s i x t h column a r t i c l e s a r e c a l l e d s h o u l d e r s . "  He  s t a r t e d r e a d i n g me t h e s p o r t s page: "Rain r a i n r a i n . match.  And we, c r a z y as we a r e , o f f t o t h e  At one p o i n t i t l o o k e d as i f t h e r a i n would have  l i k e d t o d e s t r o y o u r A l f a Romeo G i u l i e t t a . crazy.  With us was t h e elementary  a most s e n s i t i v e s p o r t i n g s o u l . We had p r e d i c t e d t h e d e f e a t . had t o l d him s o .  Boy, a r e we  s c h o o l t e a c h e r , Mr. Mombelli,  Vigevano l o s t a g a i n s t L e f f e .  The coach has no excuse.  We  I f he had l i s t e n e d t o us, i f he'd switched  t h e two f u l l b a c k s w i t h t h e h a l f b a c k and t h e h a l f b a c k w i t h the l e f t wing, L e f f e would ve l o s t . 1  L e t t h e coach t a k e  note  t h a t our advice i s never wrong." Another hour went by l i s t e n i n g t o t h e a r t i c l e . p a r t i c u l a r l y care about being i n t h e paper," I s a i d . r e p o r t e r l o o k e d a t me i n amazement.  " I don't The  My words had gone  59  through h i s t a r l i k e "Put  knifethrusts.  me i n i t ! " C i p o l l o n e s a i d .  Compared t o l o t s o f o t h e r s , Saturday evening was an i n t e r e s t i n g one.  IX.  Today's another day. t h a t happened was t h i s . to  school.  What's new today?  The o n l y t h i n g  N a n i n i brought t h e C o r r i e r e d e l l a Sera  There was an a r t i c l e by Indro M o n t a n e l l i t a l k i n g  about commendatori  and t h e great s o v e r e i g n o f A n t i o c h . I t  t u r n e d out you c o u l d have t h i s t i t l e f o r a few thousand l i r e ; a l l you had t o do was send a money o r d e r t o two s i s t e r s i n Aversa. N a n i n i was showing t h e paper t o everybody. Amitoni's m e r i t s ! " he shouted, waving t h e pages. r e v e l a t i o n seemed t o p l e a s e everyone.  "So much f o r The  N a n i n i rubbed h i s  hands, s a y i n g , "When Amiconi g e t s h e r e , t h e r e ' s gonna be q u i t e a performance!" We were a l l out i n t h e c o r r i d o r w i t h t h e f e e l i n g t h a t something s t r a n g e and i n t e r e s t i n g was g o i n g t o happen; something t h a t would g e t t a l k e d about f o r q u i t e a w h i l e . The b e l l had rung but nobody moved, not even t h e most zealous women t e a c h e r s .  We were a l l  waiting.  60  N a n i n i went up t o Amiconi and the a i r was by our s h i v e r s o f a n t i c i p a t i o n . y°  u  a  "So,  Amiconi,  electrified they've made  commendatore?" "The  g r e a t s o v e r e i g n o f A n t i o c h has  conceded me  honor," Amiconi answered h a l f embarrassed h a l f "By the way, Committee "The inform  that  triumphant.  d i d anyone hear the news, whether t h e Tenth "  r a d i o d i d n ' t say anything!"  everybody hastened t o  him.  N a n i n i l o o k e d Amiconi i n t h e f a c e and s t a r t e d winking repeatedly. has made me  " D i d you know the g r e a t s o v e r e i g n o f A n t i o c h a commendatore t o o ? " he s a i d , s m i r k i n g .  "I  sent him twenty b i l l s . . . . " Amiconi t u r n e d p a l e but asked him between h i s t e e t h dared he, and N a n i n i spread out t h e paper i n f r o n t o f Amiconi l o o k e d and t u r n e d waxen. j o u r n a l i s t ! " he stammered. l o o k e d around and saw Trembling  " M o n t a n e l l i , ray f a v o r i t e  N a n i n i laughed  and  Amiconi  a l l the t e a c h e r s watching  a substitute!"  " S u b s t i t u t e ! " he r e p e a t e d .  s i n g l e c e r t i f i c a t i o n exam! to  him.  him.  with nervousness, he s n a r l e d at N a n i n i , " S u b s t i t u t e !  At f i f t y you're s t i l l the a i r .  how  He  raised his f i s t s  " F a i l e d at  in  every  W e l l , t h i s year you're not  get a s i n g l e hour o f s u b s t i t u t e t e a c h i n g from me!  going I  wanted t o ask f o r a couple o f months o f s i c k l e a v e , but I ' l l come t o s c h o o l even i f i t k i l l s me  - substitute!"  61  Now N a n i n i turned p a l e .  Amiconi had t e a r s i n h i s eyes.  He s t a r e d a t t h e h e a d l i n e o f t h e a r t i c l e and t h e j o u r n a l i s t ' s s i g n a t u r e , shaking h i s head. "Back me up.  I'm a g o l d m e d a l i s t .  s i n g l e day o f s u b s t i t u t i o n ! " Amiconi  Don't g i v e him a  said.  "That medal comes from Aversa t o o ! " N a n i n i  sneered.  "No, t h a t one comes r i g h t from Rome!" Amiconi shouted. "I'm t h e o n l y t e a c h e r i n t h e L o m e l l i n a r e g i o n w i t h a g o l d medal - t h e o n l y one!"  He d r i e d h i s eyes w i t h a handkerchief  and went i n t o h i s classroom. The women t e a c h e r s took i t out on N a n i n i .  "Are you  s a t i s f i e d now t h a t you've offended a g o l d m e d a l i s t ? you  Serves  right...." N a n i n i lowered h i s head without  answering.  X.  Toes.  On o u r wedding n i g h t I was naked i n f r o n t o f Ada.  I thought she was mad a t me because we hadn't gone on a honeymoon.  The t r u t h was:  no money.  But t h e v e i l h i d i n g t h a t t r u t h was:  love i s sacred;  why consummate i t i n h o t e l beds, where God knows who has slept? wife.  I remember I was moved b e i n g naked i n f r o n t o f my She was s t a r i n g a t my f e e t .  S t a r i n g a t my t o e s .  62  She was s t a r i n g a t them so s t r a n g e l y I s t a r t e d b e i n g ashamed of having f e e t w i t h t o e s .  She kept on s t a r i n g a t them.  "Are t h e y t h a t i n t e r e s t i n g ? " I asked h e r . i  She nodded y e s .  "You know why I f e l l i n l o v e w i t h you?"  "Why?" "Because you never wore s a n d a l s ; 'cause you always kept your t o e s hidden!" "Really?" "I  don't l i k e h a v i n g been born a woman.  But then I  t h i n k t h a t men have t o e s and I f e e l b e t t e r about my c o n d i t i o n . " And she s t a r e d a t my f e e t . "To me, a man who shows h i s t o e s i s n ' t much o f a man," she s a i d .  Her eyes never moved from my f e e t .  g o i n g out f o r s i x y e a r s .  "We've been  F o r s i x years I've been t h i n k i n g :  who knows what h i s t o e s a r e l i k e ! " "Look a t them," I s a i d . showing them t o h e r .  I f e l t a pleasant sensation  She l o o k e d a t them t h o u g h t f u l l y .  "But do you t h i n k a l l men have t o e s ?  I don't t h i n k s o .  I t h i n k some s c i e n t i s t s , l o t s o f important men can't p o s s i b l y have f e e t w i t h t o e s , l i k e women.  A woman can have t o e s ; she  can show h e r f e e t - she's a woman.  Showing h e r f e e t makes  up f o r what m o r a l i t y stops h e r , p r o h i b i t s h e r from showing but men?" I f e l t i l l a t ease. at  And s i n c e then I've always f e l t i l l  ease when I go t o bed. Her eyes were r i v e t e d on my f e e t ;  63  I thought  her smile looked p i t y i n g .  But at t h e same time,  showing my f e e t t o h e r d i d g i v e me t h i s strange f e e l i n g o f pleasure. "Before you I had a b o y f r i e n d , " Ada t o l d me. j u s t about t o get m a r r i e d .  "We were  You know why we d i d n ' t ?  Because  he'd t a l k about corns - not c a l l u s e s on h i s hands, which I c o u l d have taken - but on h i s f e e t ! " Men's t o e s had an enormous power over Ada.  Sometimes  the paper o r some magazine would have p i c t u r e s o f p o l i t i c i a n s o r a c t o r s o r s c i e n t i s t s o r b i g shots b a r e f o o t a t t h e ocean, o r j u s t photographed without pictures.  shoes on.  She'd c u t out t h e  Or e l s e she'd f i x them i n h e r memory so t h a t i f  one o f them was on t h e r a d i o , then she'd say, "That guy has toes!  I've seen 'em myself!" I t ended up t h a t I ' d show h e r my bare f e e t w i t h t h e  same emotions I f e l t showing h e r my member. I s t a r t e d t h i n k i n g about men's t o e s t o o . ashamed o f having f e e t w i t h t o e s .  As a consequence,  And s t a r t e d b e i n g  At s c h o o l , my e x p l a n a t i o n s  o f t h e human body ended a t t h e a n k l e s .  I remember one  student wrote t h e words b i g t o e i n a composition and I c r o s s e d them o u t .  Then I thought  that since I'd crossed  them out, he might t h i n k t h a t I d i d n ' t know b i g t o e s e x i s t e d so I t o r e up h i s paper.  Ada passed h e r complex on t o me.  I f she happened t o read a book o r a s t o r y and t h e author happened t o d e s c r i b e a c h a r a c t e r ' s f e e t , Ada would  immediately  64  say, " T h i s w r i t e r has t o e s ! "  When she and I went f o r a walk,  i n t h e s p r i n g o r summer o r f a l l , we'd always happen t o come across  some man w i t h s a n d a l s on, i . e . showing h i s t o e s .  Ada would s t a r e a t them, f o l l o w them w i t h h e r eyes, and when she saw him again  - a f t e r q u i t e a w h i l e - she'd t h i n k ,  'There're toes i n s i d e those shoes.' When she s t a r e d a t men's t o e s , I ' d be s e i z e d by j e a l o u s y . I r e a l l y was j e a l o u s .  "Stop l o o k i n g a t men's f e e t , " I begged  her. " I promise," she answered.  And, i n f a c t , she d i d stop,  s i n c e I ' d made h e r swear t o on Rino's head. " I f you knew what t o r t u r e i t i s , " she'd say t o me, " t o sense t h a t some man's f e e t are showing and n o t be able t o l o o k at them.  Sometimes I t r y t o make myself l o o k down,  but when I remember swearing on Rino's head I can't do it  and I stop  myself."  She was g r a t e f u l t o me f o r never wearing s a n d a l s ,  never  t a l k i n g about corns o r t o e s ; as i f , i n s h o r t , I d i d n ' t have t o e s ; and she was g r a t e f u l t h a t I showed my f e e t o n l y t o h e r . I'd g o t t e n t o be ashamed o f my f e e t . bedroom g e t t i n g dressed h i d e my e x t r e m i t i e s . had  I f I was i n t h e  and Rino came i n , I ' d immediately  Rino d i d t h e same t h i n g .  passed t h e f e e l i n g o f shame on t o him t o o .  your f e e t o n l y t o your w i f e , "  H i s mother "You can show  she'd t o l d him.  Rino always covered up h i s f e e t , so much so t h a t I d i d n ' t  65  know what h i s t o e s were l i k e . was l i t t l e , but  I remembered vaguely when he  so I was s u r e he had t o e s , h a v i n g seen them then;  I d i d n ' t know what t h e y were l i k e now.  And, t o t e l l t h e  t r u t h , I was c u r i o u s t o see my son's f e e t . When Amiconi t o l d me, "I've got corns on t h e s o l e s o f ray f e e t ! " , I l o o k e d a t him p i t y i n g l y . l i k e he was w a l k i n g on eggs.  Amiconi walked  "My corns!  Then t h e f o l l o w i n g happened.  gently,  My c o r n s ! "  At one p o i n t  Amiconi  borrowed a b a s i n from t h e s c h o o l c l e a n i n g l a d y ; he f i l l e d i t w i t h water, put i t under h i s desk, took h i s socks o f f and put  h i s f e e t i n t o soak.  He was s i t t i n g t h e r e l i k e t h a t when  the p r i n c i p a l suddenly a r r i v e d .  Amiconi pretended he d i d n ' t  f e e l w e l l and couldn't s t a n d up, but t h e p r i n c i p a l s p i e d p a r t of a sock under t h e desk, then saw t h e whole s p e c t a c l e . h e l d h i s nose.  He  Then he came and c a l l e d me as a w i t n e s s .  "Open t h e windows!" he shouted a t t h e s t u d e n t s . Amiconi, w i t h those f e e t and t h a t f a c e , was q u i t e a sight.  "We hope, Mr. Amiconi, t h a t you c o n f i n e your washing  a c t i v i t i e s t o your f e e t when a t s c h o o l , " t h e p r i n c i p a l  said.  "Don't put i t on my p e r s o n a l r e c o r d ! " Amiconi moaned. "That i s what we w i l l c o n s i d e r d o i n g , " t h e p r i n c i p a l answered• " P l e a s e don't, f o r God's sake!" "You have a g o l d medal," t h e p r i n c i p a l s a i d . t o us t h a t you do not q u i t e deserve such an honor."  " I t seems  66  "Don't r u i n my p e r s o n a l r e c o r d , " Amiconi moaned, p u t t i n g a sock on.  Then he e x p l a i n e d t o me  between two  t o e s , and I thought,  t h a t he had a corn  'How  come he t a k e s i t f o r  granted t h a t I have t o e s t o o ? ' I'm a l l men  j e a l o u s o f t o e s , I thought.  I imagine t h a t not  have t o e s and I s t a r e at Amiconi's bare f o o t .  and study, l i k e Ada used t o  Stare  do.  XI.  F i g h t w i t h Ada t h i s morning.  She wants t o be the  one  t o buy him h i s C o n f i r m a t i o n o u t f i t and so on, and I want t o be the  one.  "Nothing  from you!" I shouted  at her.  "Good f o r n o t h i n g l i t t l e  s c h o o l t e a c h e r , " she answered.  " F a c t o r y worker," I t o l d  her.  I'd completely worn myself out w i t h a l l the t u t o r i n g , just f o r that Confirmation. k i d s from two  I had t h r e e s h i f t s a day:  t o f o u r , t e n from f o u r t o s i x , another  from s i x t o e i g h t ; b e s i d e s t h e morning a t s c h o o l . e i g h t o'clock I was  dead t i r e d .  ten  Come  The d i n i n g room l o o k e d  a s c h o o l c a f e t e r i a a f t e r l u n c h hour, i t was  ten  so d i r t y .  at l e a s t I had the s a t i s f a c t i o n o f t h i n k i n g t h a t Rino'd  like But be  confirmed dressed j u s t as e l e g a n t l y as the son o f a b i g shot, o r the son o f a Category One worker.  On top o f t h a t  67  t h e r e was The  the s a t i s f a c t i o n of not  a s k i n g Ada  f o r anything.  s a t i s f a c t i o n s of t a r . E v e r y s a t i s f a c t i o n , b e s i d e s the  humiliation  too.  e f f o r t , cost me  H u n i l i a t i o n s of t a r , n a t u r a l l y . At two  Before t h a t I had  t o prepare myself, l o o k over a l l those i n elementary s c h o o l t h a t I've  n i n e t e e n years and The you  p r i n c i p a l kept checking up  corrected  out  Now,  a f t e r regular  who  He  stared  taught f o r  "Why  Why  class register?  haven't  aren't You  you  know,  i n your s a l a r y i s the  item:  overtime i s the work you must  carry  school hours.  moral b e h a v i o r t o r e c e i v e work?"  on me.  the p u p i l s ' compositions?  Mombelli, t h a t i n c l u d e d  overtime pay.  coming.  never remember.  watching your l o o p s i n the Mr.  s h i f t started  I finished  s c h o o l at 12:40.  things I learned  the f i r s t  a  at me  Do  you  overtime pay  the way  consider i t , s i r , and not  do  overtime  I u s u a l l y s t a r e at a student  hasn't done h i s homework. " R e a l l y , I thought the r e g i s t e r was  done i n b e a u t i f u l  c a l l i g r a p h y , " I mumbled. "Did  you  say b e a u t i f u l c a l l i g r a p h y ? "  s a i d , jumping from one "Beautiful how  calligraphy!  you've l e a r n e d  Beautiful  f o o t t o the o t h e r l i k e a l i t t l e d e v i l . Wonderful, Mr.  Italian.  calligraphy!  Mombelli:  I j u s t wonder what you  Don't you  a c o n t r a d i c t i o n i n terms? g r a f i a , means c a l e :  the p r i n c i p a l  so  that's  teach.  r e a l i z e you have s t a t e d  Calligraphy,  beautiful, grafia:  from the Greek writing.  cale  Therefore  68  we deduce t h a t b e a u t i f u l c a l l i g r a p h y , excuse me!, c a l l i g r a p h y means b e a u t i f u l w r i t i n g .  that  So, b e a u t i f u l  c a l l i g r a p h y means b e a u t i f u l b e a u t i f u l w r i t i n g !  A  c o n t r a d i c t i o n i n terms!" 'Let's  see how f a r my courage goes,*  I s a i d t o myself.  " S i r , i t would have been a c o n t r a d i c t i o n i n terms, as you say, i f I had s a i d u g l y c a l l i g r a p h y , which  literally  means u g l y b e a u t i f u l w r i t i n g !  beautiful  However, i n s a y i n g  c a l l i g r a p h y perhaps I made an e r r o r , but not a c o n t r a d i c t i o n i n terms.  Don't you t h i n k so?"  Meanwhile, I thought, *I*ve got courage.' amazed t h a t I ' d spoken l i k e t h a t .  I was  As I was s a y i n g  it,I  l i s t e n e d t o my v o i c e and s a i d t o myself, 'Strange!' "Mr. Mombelli, you r e a l i z e t h a t i f you do not r e c e i v e an e x c e l l e n t on your t e a c h i n g  evaluation  t h i s y e a r you w i l l  not move on t o t h e next p o i n t t o t a l ; so weigh your words. We have been t o U n i v e r s i t y .  We have passed  certification  examinations where i l l u s t r i o u s and fearsome pedagogues decimated u s .  I f we p o i n t out t h e e r r o r o f a c o n t r a d i c t i o n  i n terms, r e s t assured t h a t t h i s e r r o r i s indeed t h e r e .  Or  do you pretend t o know more than we do?" When I t o l d Ada about t h i s scene, she could  hardly  b e l i e v e i t - i n f a c t , she d i d n ' t b e l i e v e i t . And t h a t p l e a s e d me. This  I f e l t as i f I had q u i t e some courage!  evening I emptied the drawer w i t h my l e s s o n money  and went shopping w i t h Rino.  I t ' s the night before  69  Confirmation.  A night-before-the-holiday-feeling  i n the  c i t y c r e a t e d the atmosphere o f the h o l i d a y i t s e l f . Piazza f u l l and  o f mothers and  f a t h e r s and  children, stores f u l l  The  of c h i l d r e n  mothers.  I went t o a c l o t h i n g s t o r e i n the P i a z z a w i t h R i n o . There was  an A i r F o r c e costume i n the window, w i t h g o l d  b u t t o n s , i t looked l i k e , and made o f a n i c e sky-blue material • "Do  you l i k e i t ? " I asked R i n o .  "Mm," "I  Rino s a i d .  do;  The  a lot!"  s t o r e k e e p e r s a i d i t wasn't worth buying the A i r  Force costume; t h a t l i t t l e Rino would be b e t t e r o f f h a v i n g a normal o u t f i t t h a t was "The  uniform, I was him.  enough f o r h o l i d a y s  too.  A i r Force costume," I s a i d .  When t h e y had him  for  fancy  Not  moved.  t r y i t on, when I saw  Rino i n t h a t  I t looked  made e s p e c i a l l y  a single wrinkle,  l i k e i t was not one  defect.  The  l e g s hung p e r f e c t l y to j u s t above h i s shoes, and the made h i s f a c e look The  pant sky-blue  even p a l e r and h i s body even more d e l i c a t e .  g o l d o f the buttons shone i n h i s deep eyes. I bought the u n i f o r m , then we went t o the hat  Rino chose a b e a u t i f u l A i r Force o f f i c e r ' s hat; b i g round, w i t h a n i c e s t i f f  peak.  Then we went on t o  men's o u t f i t t e r s . "Do  you have extremely f i n e s h i r t s ? " I asked.  store. and the  70  "We have them, but t h e y cost q u i t e a b i t .  We have  some i n e x p e n s i v e ones t h a t a r e n i c e as welli." " I want an extremely f i n e s h i r t ! " I s a i d . The c l e r k brought a s h i r t out; he s a i d i t was extremely fine poplin s i l k .  " F e e l i t , f e e l i t - what m a t e r i a l ! "  s a i d i t had a stupendous neckband. I t r e a l l y was b e a u t i f u l . too," t h e c l e r k s a i d .  "Look at t h a t  He  neckband!"  "However, t h e r e a r e t h e s e  "Even i f t h e y don't have t h a t  neck-  band, t h e y ' r e j u s t as n i c e . " " I want t h e one w i t h the neckband," I s a i d . B e s i d e s t h e s h i r t , I got Rino a t i e t o o .  " T h i s one  has a b s o l u t e l y e t h e r e a l nuances!" t h e c l e r k s a i d . "Give me t h e one w i t h t h e e t h e r e a l nuances," I t o l d him. Then we went t o t h e s h o e s t o r e .  To t e l l t h e t r u t h ,  I c o u l d have used some new shoes myself, and t h e r e was a p a i r t h e r e t h a t l o o k e d l i k e t h e y were made f o r me.  But,  I thought, a f a t h e r has t o s a c r i f i c e f o r h i s c h i l d r e n , and I was ashamed t o have thought about m y s e l f . We chose a boys* p a i r t h a t cost as much as two p a i r s of men's d r e s s shoes. the salesman s a i d .  "These shoes come from Bologna!"  I was g l a d t h e y were from Bologna. I t  was l i k e g i v i n g a moral s l a p i n t h e f a c e t o Vigevano, shoe capital of I t a l y . "That's i n c l u d e d i n t h e p r i c e , " I mumbled. "What?" t h e salesman asked.  71  "I s a i d t h e y ' r e expensive!" "Oh, but i t ' s q u a l i t y merchandise!" shoes under my nose.  And he waved t h e  " L i k e g l o v e s , " he s a i d .  Rinuccio  d i d n ' t want t o t r y them on t h e r e , which p l e a s e d me because t h a t way I wouldn't be f o r c e d t o see h i s f e e t i n f r o n t o f the  salesman. "Your t o e s ' l l be c o m f o r t a b l e , " t h e salesman  said.  I n o t i c e d a shadow c r o s s Rino's eyes and q u i c k l y d i s a p p e a r . But then, as t h e salesman wrapped t h e shoe box f o r me, I n o t i c e d t h a t he was wrapping i t i n newspaper, when he'd wrapped t h e c l i e n t ' s b e f o r e me i n paper w i t h t h e s t o r e ' s name on i t . "I've I said.  And t h a t guy had bought a l e s s expensive p a i r .  changed my mind!  I don't want your shoes!"  I grabbed Rino and l e f t .  "But,  sir...."  "I s a i d I don't want them...." Out i n t h e s t r e e t , Rino asked me, "Why, papa?" "Because he was g o i n g t o wrap t h e box i n newspaper," I said. me f e e l  Rino l o o k e d a t me i n a way t h a t i r r i t a t e d me, made ashamed.  We went t o another s h o e s t o r e , where I had t o f o r e g o g i v i n g Vigevano t h e moral s l a p i n t h e f a c e . R i n u c c i o t r o t t e d a l o n g i n f r o n t o f me, l o a d e d w i t h packages and p a r c e l s , as we went home. him so happy,' I thought.  'I've never seen  Meanwhile, I s t a r t e d p h i l o s o p h i z i n g  72  about money and happiness.  U s u a l l y happiness makes you t h i n k  of money, and money makes you t h i n k o f h a p p i n e s s . have a l i r a l e f t i n my pocket.  I didn't  I n about an hour I'd spent  the product o f many hours* work.  And y e t I was happy r i g h t  then. I l o o k e d a t t h e people going by; a l l t h e male and female i n d u s t r i a l i s t s d o i n g t h e i r shopping t o o , and I thought,  ' Y o u ' l l see, tomorrow!* and thought how Rino was  the b e s t - l o o k i n g o f a l l those k i d s , t h a t r o t t e n bunch o f . . . . I t u r n t h e c o r n e r and see Rino s t a n d i n g i n f r o n t o f a f a m i l y o f g y p s i e s who were begging f o r money.  The f a t h e r  was s i t t i n g i n a w h e e l - c h a i r p l a y i n g t h e a c c o r d i o n ; t h e woman had two b a b i e s a t h e r b r e a s t , and another f i l t h y and h a l f - n a k e d , was l y i n g on t h e ground.  child, I stopped,  not wanting t o see h i s t o e s when Rino d i d . What have I done? I saw Rino g i v e a l l h i s p a r c e l s and packages t o t h a t c h i l d then run away. I found him a t t h e main door o f our b u i l d i n g . "What have you done?" "Papa, I know them; t h e y don't have any wood t o keep warm and they s l e e p on park benches!  At l e a s t we can keep  warm and we have t h i n g s t o e a t ! " "Did  you r e a l l y g i v e away e v e r y t h i n g ? "  "Yes, papa." I took h i s hand i n mine, squeezed i t and w i t h moist  73  eyes t o l d him, "Oh, go t o h e l l ! " We managed t o save f a c e .  R i n u c c i o was confirmed i n t h e  o u t f i t h i s mother bought him.  XII.  I had another v i s i t from t h e p r i n c i p a l today.  I was  d i c t a t i n g a problem when he came i n . "Three man-of-wars  cross...."  " M i s t e r Mombelli, would you repeat t h a t . . . " "Three man-of-wars..." "Did  you say man-of-wars o r d i d n ' t I hear  correctly?"  "I s a i d man-of-wars!" "You s a i d man-of-wars, d i d you?  Now, Mr. Mombelli,  do you s a y mothers-in-law o r mother-in-laws?" "Mothers-in-law." "You s a y mothers-in-law. and t e a c h man-of-wars? exist.  W e l l t h e n , why do you say,  Man-of-wars do not e x i s t .  Men-of-war  The p l u r a l o f a compound noun i s formed by p l u r a l i z i n g  the m o d i f i e d word."  He gave h i s u s u a l l i t t l e  s m i l e and went  on, "You d i d not know t h a t one always p l u r a l i z e s t h e m o d i f i e d word?" "Well,  actually...."  He gave h i s l i t t l e  smile again.  " P l e a s e , Mr. Mombelli,  your average Joe may say man-of-wars, as your average Joe i s  74  i g n o r a n t ; but we, as educated I t a l i a n s , must say men-of-war. MEN-of-war. I  Have t h e p u p i l s erase and r e - w r i t e i t immediately."  s t a r t e d over a g a i n , "Three MEN-of-war...."  When I got t o t h e s o l u t i o n , t h e p r i n c i p a l s a i d , "Have you taught t h a t e i g h t times seven equals f i f t y - s i x ? and you admit i t ! equal, because are  Yes....  Mr. Mombelli, e i g h t times seven does not  equal means i d e n t i c a l .  And e i g h t and seven  not i d e n t i c a l t o f i f t y - s i x j u s t as f i f t y - s i x i s not  i d e n t i c a l e i t h e r t o e i g h t o r t o seven! No 'equals':  E r a s e i t immediately!  seven times e i g h t space f i f t y - s i x .  e q u a l s , away w i t h equals s i g n s , because  Away w i t h  equals means....  what does i t mean, Mr. Mombelli?" "Equals means... . w e l l , e q u a l s . . .that t h e y ' r e e q u a l ! " "You  see, you're not paying a t t e n t i o n !  How can I  g i v e you an e x c e l l e n t on your t e a c h i n g e v a l u a t i o n i f you pay no a t t e n t i o n t o t h e person d e l e g a t e d t o oversee t h e teachers?  E q u a l s means i d e n t i c a l .  Identical.  Repeat,  Mr. Mombelli!" "Equals means i d e n t i c a l , " I s a i d .  XIII.  T h i s evening I was s t r e t c h e d out on t h e s o f a ,  cigarette  i n mouth, as t h e d i n i n g room a i r e d i t s e l f o u t . I was  75  enjoying my  7:00  habit.  f i n i s h e d paying my Ada the way  I'd j u s t f i n i s h e d the t u t o r i n g ,  dues t o  life.  came over t o me. she was  I couldn't  w a l k i n g alarmed me.  looked l i k e she wanted t o argue. our l i f e was  Ada was  I was  but  nervous.  almost g l a d ,  It since  f l o w i n g along i n an apparent calm t h a t h i d  our i n d i f f e r e n c e and we'd  see her f a c e ,  smugness about the b i t o f  well-being  managed t o a t t a i n . Our m a r i t a l r e l a t i o n s were a l s o a r e s u l t o f t h i s s t a t e .  A couple of times a week we o f o u r s e l v e s had in  short.  made l o v e , but our mutual g i v i n g  gotten to be l i k e a t e s t ; an experiment,  Subconsciously  I wanted t o see i f my  c a p a c i t i e s had weakened; i f the act wore me And  at the end I'd s i g h w i t h r e l i e f and  sexual  out or  not.  really feel  pretty  s a t i s f i e d w i t h myself! Ada was  at t h a t age i n a woman's l i f e when she  young anymore but she i s n ' t o l d e i t h e r . been g l a d t h a t her body s t i l l too when we  e x c i t e d me.  isn't  She must have She was  satisfied  f i n i s h e d making l o v e ; I c o u l d see t h a t from  l o t s of l i t t l e  things.  But by now  our l o v e and  mechanical, h a b i t u a l .  our r e l a t i o n s had  Twice a week:  become  always the same  days.... Out  o f bed,  l i f e went on as u s u a l , made up o f h a b i t s ,  mutual t o l e r a t i o n , no j o l t s , a n i c e smooth bourgeois  life.  76  "Antonio," Ada s a i d i n a d e l i b e r a t e l y calm v o i c e , "I've  had enough o f working a t t h e f a c t o r y . " " I knew i t ! " I s a i d . She s a t down on t h e edge o f t h e s o f a .  "Antonio, you  don't know what i t means t o have a boss s t a n d i n g over you s t a r i n g a t you; you don't know what i t means t o have women around you who t a l k l i k e men; you j u s t don't know what i t ' s like!" " I can imagine." "Antonio, I've had enough! but  I j u s t can't anymore!"  her hands.  I've stood i t up t o now,  She s i g h e d and put h e r head i n  " I mess up a seam and t h e boss s t a r t s swearing  at me; I cut i t wrong and he s t a r t s sounding o f f a g a i n .  I  don't want t o go anymore!" "Then don't go," I s a i d i n r e l i e f .  I t was as i f t h e  claws t h a t had been p e e l i n g t h e t a r o f f me had suddenly stopped.  "I'm g l a d , Ada!"  Ada d i d n ' t say a n y t h i n g f o r a minute. "Can I ask you a f a v o r ?  Then she s a i d ,  But you have t o promise me y o u ' l l  do i t ! " "Go ahead." "Promise me?" "Go on!" "Antonio, my b r o t h e r and I have i t a l l f i g u r e d o u t . C a r l o doesn't want t o be a f a c t o r y - w o r k e r anymore e i t h e r . So we were t h i n k i n g , ' I f Antonio q u i t h i s j o b , he'd get  77  almost seven hundred thousand l i r e severance pay and we could s t a r t making shoes on our own! " 1  " I s t h a t t h e f a v o r ? " I s a i d through my t e e t h , "Antonio, at t h e f l o o r .  we've got p l e n t y o f experience!"  She s t a r e d  The p r o p o s a l had h i t me l i k e t h e unexpected  blow from a whip, t h a t you t h i n k you can take f o r a minute and then you s t a r t f e e l i n g t h e p a i n i n a l l i t s i n t e n s i t y , "Well?" Ada asked, breaking t h e s i l e n c e , t h a t was i t s e l f as i n t e n s e as a blow from a whip. "Ada, She  i f I q u i t I l o s e my r i g h t t o a pension!"  smiled i r r i t a t i n g l y .  She was g r i n d i n g h e r t e e t h ,  making a n o i s e l i k e f i n g e r n a i l s a c r o s s a b l a c k b o a r d .  It  made c o l d s h i v e r s run up and down my s p i n e . " B e s i d e s , Ada, I ' d l o s e my independence. to depend on you two! t e a c h i n g anymore?  I ' d have  I mean, what do I do i f I'm not  How do I l i v e ?  Where do I get my money;  from you?" "Exactly!" "That's e x a c t l y what I don't want." Ada  r o l l e d h e r eyes; I c o u l d see she was l o o k i n g f o r  the r i g h t words t o get me where i t h u r t most. j u s t a drop i n t h e bucket; r e a l l y , Antonio! j u s t a drop!" shouldn't  "Your s a l a r y ' s  I t ' s nothing;  She s t a r t e d l a u g h i n g h y s t e r i c a l l y .  have married  a woman l i k e me...."  "Don't be stubborn,  please!"  "You  78  She ground h e r t e e t h a g a i n .  "Would you r a t h e r have a  w i f e who works i n a f a c t o r y o r a w i f e who has h e r own business?" "But you know I'm no good a t b u s i n e s s ! " "I  am, though!  And so's my b r o t h e r ! "  "So I ' d be t h e p r i n c e c o n s o r t ? "  XIV.  My b r o t h e r - i n - l a w , C a r l o , came o v e r . convince.me t o q u i t my job a t s c h o o l . wandered around h a l f t h e town. Bar.  He wanted t o  I walked out and  Then I went t o my u s u a l  I s a t t h e r e f o r awhile w i t h C i p o l l o n e , who was t e l l i n g  me about l a s t n i g h t ' s f e a s t : anchovies,  o l i v e s , and....four  "What a f e a s t !  p l a t e s o f r a v i o l i , a whole  l o a f o f bread, r o a s t duck, an apple: I n c l u d i n g two b o t t l e s o f Barbera! Waiter,  chicory coffee!  Antipasto with  t h r e e thousand l i r e !  Geez, I a t e so much!  C h i c o r y sure h i t s t h e spot!  Oh  boy, does i t ever!" Fed up, I went over t o t h e r e p o r t e r ' s t a b l e .  They'd  informed him about a f e t u s they'd found i n a d i t c h and he was w r i t i n g a s t o r y about t h e mother. read.  The t i t l e was Monstrous Mother.  you've done? trembled  He gave i t t o me t o "Do you r e a l i z e what  I saw a p o l i c e o f f i c e r , a man who's never  b e f o r e b a n d i t s , tremble  a t t h e s i g h t o f your c h i l d .  79  I saw an inspector cry! Monstrous mother, what have you done, monstrous mother?! you see that blood?  Look at your hands, monstrous mother; do I t w i l l haunt you f o r the rest of your  l i f e , monstrous mother, and you w i l l never have peace because your c h i l d could have been a man and instead he's gone to l i v e among the angels!  But you, monstrous mother, have no  idea what angels are. Curse you, monstrous mother!" The reporter looked at h i s story with s e l f - s a t i s f a c t i o n . 'Now,' I thought, ' I ' l l pierce your crust of  tar.'  "Seems l i k e I've already read that somewhere," I said. "You've got i t mixed-up:  the other one was c a l l e d  Infamous Mother." "Oh, sorry," I s a i d .  A t e r r i b l e doubt came over me.  I raced home, but Ada was i n bed, with her swollen stomach. I breathed a sigh of r e l i e f .  XV.  The weeks go by; a hundred sixty-eight hours, then another hundred sixty-eight hours. the it'd  And i f i t weren't f o r  l i t t l e d e t a i l s of school and the Bar and the family, just be a series of exactly i d e n t i c a l hours. Ada's not speaking to me anymore.  to t e l l me she does i t through Rino.  I f she has something  I do the same thing.  She eats a f t e r me at noon, before me i n the evening.  We  80  ran  into each other at the door and she said, "Pardon me." "How are things with you, ma'am?" "Not bad, and you, s i r ? " The t a r has made us lose our sense of the r i d i c u l o u s . This evening I sent my t h i r d s h i f t of students home.  I t o l d them I wasn't f e e l i n g w e l l . out, 6:00 i n the evening. getting dark.  I t was 6:00 when I went  A balmy spring evening, slowly  The sky was a clear washed-out blue, and the  moon stood out, enormous, against i t . I went by the Piazza and a l l the same old faces almost disgusted me.  A l l those everyday, every evening faces!  Those faces I know by heart. A man goes by and I remember that man when he was a k i d . I remember him as a schoolboy.  Now he has plenty of white  h a i r , I think as I walk along. And that old man dragging himself along? when he was young, good-looking... to  I knew him  And that worker going  do her shopping, shabby now; I knew her too - when she  was a s t r i k i n g woman of the world. I walk along as evening s o f t l y descends, and the moon rises.  Before me stretches Corso Milano, f u l l of bicycles,  cars, people moving running rushing around.  That moving  rushing around running i s the meaning of t h e i r l i v e s ; the meaning of l i f e , I think. too,  I think.  And my walking has a meaning  But I don't know what meaning to give to i t .  81  Maybe because t h e i r running l e a d s t o something, a c t i o n , whereas my walking i s a i m l e s s . . . money.  About banknotes,  t o some  I t h i n k about  t h a t a r e worth something  because  t h e r e ' s g o l d behind them; i f i t wasn't f o r t h e g o l d they'd be w o r t h l e s s .  That's i t - t h e r e ' s something  analogous t o  t h a t i n t h e movement o f these people a l l around me:  there's  g o l d behind i t , whereas behind my walking t h e r e ' s n o t h i n g nothing nothing! I ask myself i f t h e r e ' s a l o g i c a l  connection between  these people running and me walking and banknotes,  and I  f i g u r e t h e r e ' s more o f a connection t h e r e than between my t o e s and my unborn  child.  T h i n k i n g along these l i n e s , I stop a t a f o r k i n t h e road and s e t o f f towards t h e country. starting  t o bother me.  The people a r e  T h e i r moving around bothers me;  here's t h e c o u n t r y s i d e spread out i n i t s green.  I look at  the meadows pock-marked w i t h b u t t e r c u p s and s a y o u t l o u d , "Meadows pock-marked w i t h b u t t e r c u p s . " meadows pock-marked w i t h b u t t e r c u p s !  I l i k e t h e phrase I l i k e that  'pock-  marked* ! I go on w a l k i n g .  I see farmers working,  and t h i n k  about t h e thoughts a farmer might have w h i l e he works. The farmer's b a r e f o o t and near him t h e r e ' s a woman, maybe h i s woman, and i t ' s n a t u r a l f o r him t o be showing h i s f e e t and f o r h e r t o be s e e i n g them.  Maybe she r e s t o r e s h e r  82  e q u i l i b r i u m by s e e i n g a man b a r e f o o t . I continue my walk t h i n k i n g about R i n o .  Who knows i f  Rino knows how babies are born; who knows i f he knows about those t h i n g s everybody does t h e i r b e s t t o hush up, maybe so t h e y can get more p l e a s u r e out o f f i n a l l y r e v e a l i n g them? Those f o r b i d d e n p l e a s u r e s t h a t , j u s t because they are f o r bidden, become much more p l e a s u r a b l e . At Rino's age I a l r e a d y knew l o t s o f those t h i n g s . And I'd almost be s o r r y i f Rino d i d n ' t know them y e t . I'd be more s o r r y i f he d i d know them.  But  Who knows whether  he's wondered why h i s mother and f a t h e r s l e e p a p a r t . knows i f he's wondered i f women are made l i k e men  Who  underneath,  o r what t h e y ' r e made l i k e ! I continue my walk and my thoughts, and take i n a deep breath o f t h a t a i r impregnated  w i t h hay, s t a b l e s , g r a s s .  I go down a steep s l o p e t o t h e T i c i n o V a l l e y .  I look a t the  E d i s o n power p l a n t and a schoolboy memory comes back t o me: my elementary  s c h o o l t e a c h e r t o l d us t h a t Hannibal had d e f e a t e d  the Romans r i g h t t h e r e .  And I've repeated t h e same t h i n g t o  my students f o r almost twenty y e a r s :  "Where t h e E d i s o n  power p l a n t i s ; t h a t ' s where Hannibal d e f e a t e d t h e Romans!" I continue my walk....  83  XVI.  I'm  s i t t i n g on a l i t t l e b r i d g e now.  I t ' s an  b r i d g e t h a t r e s t s t r a n s v e r s a l l y on i t s two  irrigation  flanks.  r a i l r o a d c u t t i n g passes under i t .  I'm  takes i n the whole T i c i n o V a l l e y :  r i v e r , woods, b r i d g e .  If  up h i g h ; my  The gaze  I t u r n , I can see the houses of Vigevano l i k e dark  masses f u l l o f luminous h o l e s , and I t e l l myself: are windows; behind me,  each l i g h t t h e r e ' s someone who,  has t o e s , hands and a b r a i n .  I t u r n again and  c o u n t r y s i d e spreads out b e f o r e me. and t h i n k , t h i s i s g r a n i t e . and t e l l myself, cold.  And  I'm  I see, I'm  hands  This cold i s granite-type  a l i v e , I'm  awake, I'm  here.  Here  not i n A r a b i a but here on t h i s b r i d g e , and I  alive.  I think.  I'm  a l i v e and I'm  thinking.  I suppose t h e r e i s a  t h a t somebody c o u l d f i n d i t .  I'm  things  And I t e l l  whether t h e r e c o u l d be a l o g i c a l connection bag and t h i s g r a n i t e .  here,  I t h i n k t h a t the  s e e i n g r i g h t at t h i s moment.  again, A l i v e !  the  s i t t i n g on g r a n i t e  see the T i c i n o and I see Vigevano and say, I'm awake and I'm  like  I s c r a t c h at i t w i t h my  i t i s granite.  I t h i n k , I'm  i s where I am;  those  myself  I t h i n k about between a paper connection,  I mean t h a t somebody c o u l d  f i n d t h a t t h e r e ' s some connection between a paper bag g r a n i t e ; but I'm And I ask myself,  not capable  of discovering that  and  connection.  what does a paper bag have t o do  with  84  anything?  I n f r o n t o f me a r e p l a n e - t r e e s , a s h - t r e e s , elms;  a r i v e r , road, b r i d g e .  Under me i s a k i n d o f g l e n w i t h a  pool o f water; why d i d I t h i n k o f a paper bag and not o f one o f these  things?  The f e e l i n g o f n o t b e i n g i n c o n t r o l o f myself  came  over me a g a i n . Near t h e r a i l r o a d  c u t t i n g t h e r e was a path, and on  t h i s s i d e o f t h e path a s m a l l wood w i t h a hut i n t h e middle of i t .  A hut b u i l t on p i l i n g s .  see a woman and a man.  Through t h e window I c o u l d  Probably woodcutters.  Now t h a t I  take a b e t t e r l o o k , I see t h e y ' r e t h e two I came a c r o s s e a r l i e r , t h e ones t h a t had me t h i n k i n g about h i s showing h i s toes and h e r working. I can see them e a t i n g .  They r e a l l y a r e t h e same ones.  And he's b a r e f o o t .  me t h i n k o f t h e P i l e - d w e l l i n g E r a .  I tell  That hut makes myself, what I'm  s e e i n g i s n ' t a primer i l l u s t r a t i o n but t r u l y a r e a l h u t , a real pile-dwelling. How many yards a r e t h e r e between the hut and t h e railroad? W e l l , roughly, I ' d say a few hundred y a r d s .  How many  thousands o f years a r e t h e r e between the B i l e - d w e l l i n g E r a and t h e R a i l r o a d Era?  There i t i s , i n those few hundred  yards - mankind's whole journey through thousands o f y e a r s . The man who b u i l t p i l e - d w e l l i n g s gave a meaning t o h i s l i f e ; l i k e t h e man who i n v e n t e d t h e r a i l r o a d . meanings o f l i f e .  Each e r a has i t s  Man b u i l t t h i s c u t t i n g , t h i s  railroad,  85  t h i s i r r i g a t i o n b r i d g e , t h a t b r i d g e over the T i c i n o , t h a t tower I can b a r e l y see:  Man  b u i l t a l l of these t h i n g s .  He  thought, r e f l e c t e d , c a l c u l a t e d and gave l i f e t o these t h i n g s ! The  same Man  who  invented  s a l a r y brackets; because he's  p o i n t t o t a l s , l e v e l s , pay  the same Man  a man,  increases,  who's proud o f h i m s e l f  not because man  has made such  not  progress,  but because he belongs t o a c e r t a i n p o i n t t o t a l , because he's  reached a c e r t a i n l e v e l .  r a i l r o a d , I haven't i n v e n t e d i n v e n t i o n s ; and  yet I'm  b u i l t these t h i n g s was b i t of h i s t a l e n t .  I think, I didn't b u i l d t h i s anything,  happy t o be a man a man  t h a t ' s why  I think.  at p o i n t t o t a l 271 I t h i n k t h i s way.  people's  because whoever  too, and i t seems l i k e I have a I belong to the category o f  But maybe I t h i n k t h i s way because I'm  I enjoy o t h e r  because I'm  men.  i n group B;  s a l a r y bracket  #4;  maybe  But i f I were at a  higher  p o i n t t o t a l , at a d i f f e r e n t l e v e l , I c o u l d be proud o f belonging  t o , not a l l of humanity, but t h a t s e c t o r o f  humanity made up o f a few hundred thousand people who've reached t h a t p o i n t t o t a l , t h a t l e v e l , t h a t s a l a r y And  bracket.  I think, tar! I c e r t a i n l y don't want t o have Rino become a b r i c k l a y e r  or a d i t c h d i g g e r , and  yet they're  e x a c t l y the ones who  the s c i e n t i s t put h i s d i s c o v e r i e s i n t o e f f e c t . make Rino a Group A o f f i c e worker. him  proud o f belonging  help  I want t o  Because I want t o  t o Group A, and I want o t h e r  see  people,  86  when t h e y work w i t h him, t o t h i n k about him what I t h i n k about my s u p e r i o r s when they make me f e e l t h e i r s u p e r i o r i t y ; i.e.  you go t o t h e John j u s t l i k e me! Tar, I t h i n k .  The t a r i s s u f f o c a t i n g me; I'm one b i g  tar. Ada t e l l s me, " Q u i t t h a t job! n o t h i n g gained!"  Come on; n o t h i n g  ventured,  I don't do i t , because t h e t a r keeps me  from doing i t , because:  I'm scared!  And I t h i n k o f myself  as a shipwreck v i c t i m c l i n g i n g t o a r e e f i n t h e s e a o f l i f e , and I keep c l i n g i n g w h i l e around me a l l o f humanity i s swimming, t r y i n g t o reach more comfortable r e e f s .  Or e l s e  t h e y ' r e swimming because, c o n s i d e r i n g t h a t t h e y ' r e i n t h e world anyway, i t doesn't wait f o r death. I let life  make sense t o c l i n g t o a r e e f and  T a r . I'm f u l l o f t a r and f e a r . f l o w along and I f l o w a l o n g w i t h l i f e ;  f l o w along t o g e t h e r , u n t i l t h e day I s t o p .  we  Group B p o i n t  t o t a l 271 f o u r t h pay i n c r e a s e ; n i n e t e e n years o f s e r v i c e . My eyes go from t h e hut t o t h e r a i l r o a d , back t o t h e hut, t o t h e r a i l r o a d again, once more t o t h e hut; I t a k e i n thousands o f years i n a few seconds. Would men have i n v e n t e d t h e r a i l r o a d s , t r a i n s , b r i d g e s , roads i f each o f them had had h i s p o i n t t o t a l , h i s s a l a r y bracket, h i s l e v e l ? J u s t t h i n k how many men c o u l d have c r e a t e d something and d i d n ' t , r e s t i n g on t h e i r p o i n t t o t a l s , t h e i r brackets, t h e i r l e v e l s !  salary  87  I t h i n k o f Ada.  The t a r i s b u r n i n g me.  Ada was i n h e r  own house, and going t o t h e f a c t o r y must have been q u i t e a sacrifice.  Being away from h e r c h i l d and from t h e house i s  always a s a c r i f i c e f o r a woman.  Ada t e l l s me, "Get a move oh!  Prove your l i f e i s worth something! And I keep c l i n g i n g of drowning are  Get a move on!"  t o t h e r e e f , unmoving.  I'm s c a r e d  i n t h i s s e a - l i f e where every day l o t s o f people  drowned and l o t s are born.  I don't l i k e t h e word s c a r e d .  I say, ' I t ' s n o t f e a r ; i t ' s c a u t i o n . ' b e t t e r ; t h a t ' s more a c c e p t a b l e .  I l i k e t h a t word  I t ' s c a u t i o n , t h a t ' s what  i t i s . I'm not young and I'm r e s p o n s i b l e f o r r a i s i n g child.  a  He s t i l l has t o study - l o n g years o f study; I can't  tempt f a t e and g i v e up now. This i s t a r too.  I f e e l l i k e they're f a i r l y  excuses, but t h e y ' r e s t i l l  valid  excuses.  'But I educate,' I t e l l  myself.  I touch t h e g r a n i t e a g a i n and ask myself, 'What connection c o u l d t h e r e be between t h i s g r a n i t e and a paper bag?*  XVII.  I don't know how much time's gone by. s t i l l l i g h t out b e f o r e and now i t ' s dark. enormous, r e f l e c t e d  I know i t was The moon i s  i n t h e water o f t h e T i c i n o ; I know t h e  t r e e s were s i l e n t b e f o r e , now nature i s s i n g i n g ; those are  88  c r i c k e t s and owls t h a t are s i n g i n g .  Or howling, maybe.  I  don't know how much time's gone by; maybe an hour, maybe two. to  But how important  can an hour, o r two, be compared  thousands o f years? From t h e hut t o t h e r a i l r o a d , a hundred yards, thousands  o f years; two hours o f my time:  what a r e two hours?  The woodcutter and h i s woman are o u t s i d e t h e hut now. And  I'm here, I'm here a l i v e , s i t t i n g on g r a n i t e ; I'm here  a l i v e s i t t i n g on g r a n i t e and s e e i n g .  I see t h e woodcutter  and h i s woman and t h e y ' r e naked.  They're s i t t i n g a t t h e  edge o f t h a t g l e n f u l l  They're throwing  o f water.  i n t o i t and f o r every stone a l u g u b r i o u s the g l e n .  'gluk' r i s e s from  The woman i s l y i n g down; i t ' s t h e man who's  throwing t h e s t o n e s . it's  I see t h e woman's body and t h i n k ,  a woman's body; i t ' s naked.  I f e e l l i k e I have a  p a i n t i n g by a g r e a t a r t i s t i n f r o n t o f me. naked body emanates a l i g h t t h a t f i l l s  The woman's  t h e f o r e s t ; h e r sex  i s i n harmony w i t h t h e beauty o f h e r whole body. myself,  stones  I tell  'This i s a p a i n t i n g ! '  I'm s o r r y I d i d n ' t look a t h e r c l o s e l y when I went by them; and I f e e l p e t t y about having  s t a r e d a t h i s toes  instead. The  painting i s s t i l l  t h e y ' l l move. everything.  t h e r e , and I'm almost  scared  She r a d i a t e s l i g h t ; a l i g h t t h a t t r a n s f i g u r e s  I t h i n k o f Ada and see t h a t t h e d i f f e r e n c e  89  between the nakedness o f t h i s peasant woman and t h a t o f  my  w i f e i s the d i f f e r e n c e between a nude p a i n t e d by a g r e a t a r t i s t and a nude i n a pornographic The t r a i n ' s going by. around me,  photo.  Split-second.  The a i r s w i r l s  panels o f l i g h t appear and d i s a p p e a r on  ground, as i f the ground i t s e l f were a huge panel turned on and o f f . it  the woman's g e t t i n g up;  by a g r e a t a r t i s t . new  She moves.  find  country.  and t h i s i s another p a i n t i n g Every movement i s a t o t a l l y  and d i f f e r e n t pose; another  o f the man  being  I s n i f f the s m e l l o f the t r a i n and  perfumed and p l e a s a n t , l i k e the s m e l l o f the Now  the  p a i n t i n g ; even the n u d i t y  i s d i f f e r e n t from the n u d i t y o f a naked man;  his  i s the n u d i t y o f a p a i n t i n g t o o . The man hut.  goes behind  a t r e e and she moves c l o s e t o the  The moon s h i n e s on h e r body, i l l u m i n a t i n g i t ,  but  the moonlight i s counteracted by the l i g h t from h e r body. "Eva?" the man Eva, Eva,  calls.  of a l l t h i n g s !  be Eva, I t h i n k .  Of course her name has  What o t h e r name c o u l d a woman l i k e  to this  have but Eva? "Eva?" the man  says  She's s i l e n t .  The  that p o i n t .  again. e x i s t e n c e o f the hut bothers me  That hut r u i n s the p a i n t i n g I'm  imagining.  at If  i t weren't f o r the hut you  could imagine an e a r t h l y p a r a d i s e ,  the E a r t h l y P a r a d i s e .  e x i s t e n c e o f t h a t hut  The  time by thousands o f y e a r s .  shifts  90  "Eva?" t h e man c a l l s . "Over here!" she answers. h e r body.  Her v o i c e i s as luminous as  The a i r i s f i l l e d w i t h h e r luminous v o i c e .  Now I can see h e r go h i d e behind a t r e e as he stands where she was b e f o r e , j u s t l i k e she was s t a n d i n g . doesn't  c a l l out.  behind t h a t t r e e . was r i g h t  She  I wait t o hear h e r v o i c e , but she s t a y s The moonlight  s h i n e s on h e r f a c e .  not t o l o o k a t h e r c l o s e up.  her now i s something  stupendous.  I  The way I'm s e e i n g  She emanates t h e same  l i g h t as t h e Mona L i s a , but even more i n t e n s e ; I'm l o o k i n g at a l i v e woman.  And I t h i n k , I'm here, I'm awake, I'm  a l i v e , I'm myself, Antonio Mombelli sarcastic  - and my name sounds  t o me.  "Eva?" he c a l l s . I t ' s him c a l l i n g a g a i n , c a l l i n g h e r . "Eva?" he c a l l s a g a i n .  Now he's moaning.  She throws  stones i n t o t h e water, and t h e 'gluk's r i s e from underground l i k e spoutings from t h e dead.  Gluk.  Gluk.  "Eva?" he c a l l s f o r t h e t h i r d time.  I say t h e t h i r d  time, but t h i r d i s an a b s u r d i t y a t t h i s p o i n t . time and space here; t h e r e a r e thousands here I am s a y i n g 'the t h i r d  We're beyond  o f years here, and  time*?  She goes t o him and he h o l d s h e r t i g h t .  R i g h t now h i s  f e e t a r e i n t h e moonlight; he has t o e s ; I can see h i s t o e s , but here i t * s n a t u r a l and l o g i c a l f o r t h e r e t o be t o e s ; i t would be p a i n f u l t o see those f e e t without t o e s .  91  They go i n t o t h e h u t .  She l i g h t s a candle.  Six  thousand, seven thousand, e i g h t thousand years l e d t o t h a t much p r o g r e s s :  a candle.  J u s t a candle?  but a pane o f g l a s s as w e l l .  That's  all:  Not o n l y a candle a candle, a pane  o f g l a s s , and l e t ' s even i n c l u d e t h e scythe gleaming i n t h e c a n d l e l i g h t ; even though I t h i n k t h a t s i x thousand seven thousand e i g h t thousand years ago t h e r e must have a l r e a d y been s c y t h e s . She u n r o l l s a p a l l e t . Now he's on t o p o f h e r .  Their love i s t r u l y earthly  p a r a d i s e l o v e , i t ' s not l i k e mine with Ada....  XVIII.  The  atmosphere a t home i s weighing me down.  Ada s i t s  t h e r e w i t h h e r b i g stomach i n t h e a i r and a dramatic e x p r e s s i o n on h e r f a c e .  Her eyes a r e r e d .  was going i n t o t h e k i t c h e n . t o have a boss!"  I stopped  as I  "You don't know what i t ' s l i k e  she was s a y i n g t o Rino.  When I came i n she immediately  changed t h e s u b j e c t .  "That f i s h weighed t h r e e grams, Rino,"  she was s a y i n g .  But  her eyes were r e d . I l e f t t h e house r i g h t away and went t o t h e P i a z z a . The  same o l d f a c e s wandering around, t h e same o l d v o i c e s  92  talking.  The r e p o r t e r was  Panciroli  a great p l a y e r .  e x p l a i n i n g why he c o n s i d e r s  I put L'uomo i n f r a c on the jukebox. resounded down t h e arcades o f t h e P i a z z a . away l i s t e n i n g t o t h e song.  Modugno's v o i c e I was  Then I r a i s e my  a huge f a t guy i n f r o n t o f me,  eyes and see  b i g and round:  a round head, a b i g round stomach,  carried  a round f a c e ,  completely round, l i k e  the M i c h e l i n t i r e ad, round and white and r e d , more r e d than white, s t a n d i n g t h e r e c a l m l y e a t i n g a sandwich.  H i s jaws  were going up and down; he chomped on and on, h i s mouth crammed  full....  "A dream never dreamed memories o f t h e past a moment o f l o v e never t o r e t u r n . . . . " And t h i s guy e a t i n g c a l m l y , b l i s s f u l l y away. The P i a z z a was d e s e r t e d . the  on  dot, here come those two, husband and w i f e , i n t h e i r  c u s t o m - b u i l t A l f a Romeo. Now  At t h e u s u a l hour, r i g h t  he's e x p l a i n i n g how  The r e p o r t e r keeps on  talking.  s p u t n i k s work.  "The s c i e n t i s t s say the s p u t n i k ' l l o r b i t f o r about twenty days and then i t ' l l w i t h those guys.  d i s s o l v e , but I don't agree  Waddya bet I'm  right?"  Then,  since  nobody wants t o b e t , he s t a r t s e x p l a i n i n g how t h e y ' r e made, how they launched them i n t o o r b i t , and how t h e t h i n g s manage to r e v o l v e around t h e e a r t h . I walk along under the arcades and run i n t o  Pisquani,  93  the l e f t i s t i n t e l l e c t u a l . did?  " D i d you see what t h e Russians  Launched those s p u t n i k s ! "  He laughs  c o n t e n t e d l y and  rubs h i s hands, as i f he was t h e one who'd sent them i n t o orbit.  I f e e l t h a t today i s Thursday, t h a t t h i s Thursday  i s l i k e a thousand, t e n thousand o t h e r Thursdays gone by; t h a t t h e o n l y d i f f e r e n c e between t h i s one and t h e o t h e r thousand and t e n thousand i s t h e r e p o r t e r ' s and P i s q u a n i ' s babbling. The P i a z z a ' s d e s e r t e d t h e way i t i s every weekday. There's melancholy i n t h e a i r , t h e way t h e r e always i s when the moon's out and i t ' s d r i z z l i n g , and i t ' s a weekday. A priest that priest  crosses the P i a z z a .  crosses the P i a z z a .  P i a z z a a t t h i s time.  Every n i g h t a t t h i s time He always c r o s s e s t h e  When I was l i t t l e I'd see him at t h i s  time; now I see him a g a i n at t h i s t i m e . changed, gotten t i r e d . gotten t i r e d .  Only h i s pace has  Or maybe i t ' s my eyes t h a t have  I t must d e f i n i t e l y be my eyes t h a t make me  see t h i n g s t h e way they a r e n ' t ; o r e l s e make me see what i t ' s convenient  to see.  I walk towards t h e o t h e r end o f t h e arcade w i t h Pisquani.  There a r e t h e same o l d small-time i n d u s t r i a l i s t s ,  the same o l d b i g i n d u s t r i a l i s t and t h e same o l d f l u n k y worker s i t t i n g t h e r e l o o k i n g a t each o t h e r , w a i t i n g 11:30  till  t o go home by t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e c a r and b i c y c l e . Modugno's v o i c e echoes down t h e arcades o f t h e P i a z z a  again; L'uomo i n f r a c ,  again.  94  "We put i t on t o get P a l l a v i c i n o ' s goat!" a c l o s e friend  o f t h e r e p o r t e r t e l l s me.  Pallavicino sits  there  with a d i s g u s t e d look on h i s , f a c e , mumbling, "Anybody could w r i t e a song l i k e t h a t . " But he's p a l e , r e a l l y p a l e . reflection  Must be t h e neon  from t h e PRINCIPE BAR s i g n .  I go back home.  My room's empty.  window a t t h e few l i g h t s hear t h e s h u f f l i n g  I look out t h e  s t i l l on a c r o s s Vigevano...  I  f o o t s t e p s o f a whore, t h e n o i s e o f a  c a r here and t h e r e . The  sound o f t h e t r a i n reaches me from faraway; a t r a i n  whistle i n the night.  I'm c r y i n g without r e a l i z i n g  i t , as  r a i n beats a g a i n s t t h e windowpanes....  XIX.  I'm l i v i n g i n a s t a t e o f t o t a l t e n s i o n . something's about t o happen t o me. r e a l grudge a g a i n s t me. is  I can t e l l Ada has a  Sometimes I f e e l l i k e h e r stomach  swollen n o t w i t h a baby, but with  rage.  Something i s about t o happen t o me. but I can t e l l I'm i n danger. closer.  I can t e l l  I don't know what,  I can f e e l t h e danger g e t t i n g  While I'm t e a c h i n g I t r y t o t h i n k what. Ada c o u l d  do t o get back a t me.  95  Go t o some student's  f a t h e r and ask f o r money?  She  can't do t h a t , I t h i n k , f i r s t because I o n l y have one r i c h student  and she's a l r e a d y asked h i s f a t h e r , and s e c o n d l y  because now t h a t she works and has something i n h e r pocket she knows t h e value o f money and knows t h a t you don't j u s t g i v e i t away.  E i t h e r you donate i t , with acknowledgments  i n t h e Informatore,  o r you j u s t don't g i v e i t , p e r i o d .  So, what c o u l d she do t o get back a t me?  I s a y 'get  back a t me' because t h e e x p r e s s i o n l e n d s i t s e l f t o t h i s c h i l d i s h atmosphere.  What could Ada do?  She c o u l d have  an a b o r t i o n ! I spend every morning a t school w i t h a l l these i n my head.  When I g e t home and see h e r stomach  swollen, I breathe a s i g h o f r e l i e f .  thoughts  still  A f t e r I've g o t t e n  through a day, I breathe a s i g h - o f r e l i e f , again.-  Nothing's  happened, I t h i n k as I go t o s l e e p . Before I f a l l  asleep I look a t my toes and pretend  i t ' s n o t me l o o k i n g a t them but Ada. I imagine h e r over t h e r e f e e l i n g homesick f o r my t o e s .  96  XX.  I t ' s happened.  What I was a f r a i d o f has happened.  I get home and f i n d Rino counting money, p i l e s o f i t . "Where*d you get t h a t ? " I ask. " I t ' s my t i p s , " he answers. "Tips?" "Yeah, t i p s !  I'm a d e l i v e r y boy."  "You're what?" "A d e l i v e r y boy!" My son's a d e l i v e r y boy. me a thousand t i m e s .  I t ' s l i k e a dagger s t a b b i n g  My son a d e l i v e r y boy!  My son a c c e p t i n g  t i p s , h o l d i n g out h i s hand and t a k i n g t i p money! "So  you take  "Yes,  My son!  tips?"  papa."  I'm on f i r e .  And he l o o k s a t me, and I l o o k at t h e  money; change, j u s t l i k e spare change f o r beggars, l y i n g t h e r e on t h e t a b l e .  And Ada's s i t t i n g on t h e o t h e r s i d e  of the t a b l e w i t h a s a t i s f i e d look on h e r f a c e . "Who sent you out t o be a d e l i v e r y boy?" "Mamma!" "Uh-huh." " I took these t h i n g s t o one p l a c e and then t h i s  other  p l a c e ; I d i d a l l these errands and so...." "Vigevano's seen my son running around as a d e l i v e r y boy!"  I snarl.  97  I look a t Ada's f a c e ; she's wearing t h i s p i t y i n g  ironic  s m i l e , a s m i l e o f s a t i s f a c t i o n and p i t y a t t h e same time. I grab Rino and my hand s t r i k e s h i s f a c e hard, my f e e t k i c k out a t him.  Rino s t a r t s c r y i n g and those t e a r s  make me h i t him harder, k i c k him h a r d e r .  I'm hoping Ada  w i l l grab him away from me; I keep t h i n k i n g s h e ' l l get between us; no!  She s i t s t h e r e watching,  she's e n j o y i n g i t . one.  looking l i k e  Her s m i l e i s t h e u s u a l s a r c a s t i c mocking  Maybe she's guessed what I'm t h i n k i n g and j u s t  sits  t h e r e calmly on purpose. And I keep on h i t t i n g him; I h i t him i m a g i n i n g t h a t I'm h i t t i n g h e r .  I t h i n k a mother should i n t e r v e n e ; she  should t r y and save h e r son; and maybe she t h i n k s so t o o . And meanwhile she j u s t s i t s t h e r e , i n d i f f e r e n t . I'm r e l i e v e d when Rino escapes t o h i s room. are burning; I'm exhausted.  My hands  I l o o k at t h e c o i n s on t h e  t a b l e r e f l e c t i n g t h e l a m p l i g h t and f e e l even more crushed. "We've l o s t our d i g n i t y , " I mumble. "Rino's  going t o keep on being a d e l i v e r y boy," Ada  hisses. "A s l a v e ! " I y e l l . "A s l a v e .  I see t h e word makes h e r s t a r t .  A damn s l a v e ! " I repeat and see t h e word h i t h e r  l i k e a slap i n the face.  I f I ' d c a l l e d Rino a s l a v e r i g h t  away, I t h i n k , she would have g o t t e n between us f o r s u r e . Now t h e r e ' s s i l e n c e between u s .  She l o o k s a t me w i t h  hate; t h a t look t h a t people have when they'd l i k e t o get  98  revenge but f e e l impotent and i n t h e wrong. I can't stand i t anymore.  I go i n t h e d i n i n g room  and c a t c h Rino eavesdropping a t t h e door, c r y i n g . touch my mother!" he s a y s .  " I f you  I t doesn't sound l i k e h i s v o i c e  t o me; i t sounds l i k e another; l i k e someone e l s e ' s v o i c e . I go back i n t h e k i t c h e n .  The s i l e n c e i s o p p r e s s i v e .  Ada won't get r i d o f t h a t l o o k on h e r f a c e , t h a t smile.  ironic  My hands begin t o i t c h ; my f i n g e r s s t a r t opening and  closing.  I s t a r e at Ada's neck....  But I'm a f r a i d o f Rino.  I can s t i l l hear h i s v o i c e i n my e a r s . "Ada, we may be poor, but we've always had enough to e a t .  I t ' s h a r d l y n e c e s s a r y t o send t h e boy out t o do  a h u m i l i a t i n g job l i k e t h a t . times...  We've gone through worse  When I t h i n k o f Rino going around  delivering  s t u f f , h o l d i n g out h i s hand f o r t h a t money, b e i n g a damn slave....  W h a t ' l l people s a y about us...."  I was c r y i n g .  When I r a i s e d my eyes again I saw t h a t Ada l o o k e d confused, m o r t i f i e d .  Her eyes g l i s t e n e d , and I thought  she was r e a l l y b e a u t i f u l r i g h t t h e n .  She's b e a u t i f u l when  she makes l o v e , when she's s u f f e r i n g and when she's mad. She r e a l i z e d she'd g i v e n h e r s e l f away and t r i e d t o cover up w i t h the u s u a l smirk. " Y o u ' l l be t h e r u i n o f us," she s a i d through h e r t e e t h . I r e s t e d my head on my hands. whatever job?  you want.  O.K., I ' l l  " A l l right!  What do you want me t o do?  quit.  I ' l l do Q u i t my  And y o u ' l l go i n t o b u s i n e s s w i t h  99  your b r o t h e r ; what can I do?" Ada reached over and s t r o k e d ray head. Y o u ' l l see how much money w e ' l l have! work, y o u ' l l count  "We'll be f i n e .  Y o u ' l l do t h e o f f i c e  as much as me and C a r l o ; even more.  Every month w e ' l l d i v i d e t h e money t h r e e ways! My name, when she says i t ,  Antonio!"  has always made me s h i v e r  with pleasure. "Antonio!" "I'll  she repeated i n t e n s e l y .  do what you want, Ada!  The k i d s ' 1 1 go t h e i r  ways; p r e t t y soon w e ' l l be a l l alone!" I s a i d , s t r o k i n g h e r arm. "You  t a l k about t h e i r going t h e i r ways j u s t when t h e  o t h e r one's about t o be born!" she answered. Ada s a t down on my l a p .  I caressed h e r t h i g h .  We  k i s s e d f o r a long time. Then we went t o bed. I took a morbid p l e a s u r e i n showing h e r my t o e s , but she wouldn't look a t them.  She  was s m i l i n g w i t h t h a t luminous f a c e pregnant women have. As we made l o v e , we c o u l d hear Rino  sobbing.  The sobs went on. We put o u r heads under t h e covers, but t h e sobs went on....  100  XXI.  I went to my had t o do t o q u i t . law.  c o l l e a g u e B r a g a g l i a to f i n d out what I B r a g a g l i a ' s an expert on e d u c a t i o n a l  He knows e v e r y t h i n g about the l e g a l s t a t u s o f t e a c h e r s ,  from a hundred years ago up t o now. w i t h my  I can t e l l he's  pleased  question.  "Why pension?"  don't you wait a few years so you he asks me.  can get your  "Your pension would be as much as  the l a s t s a l a r y bracket of t h e p o i n t t o t a l you're i n , p l u s a t h r e e per cent income t a x exemption." "I've a l r e a d y made up my  mind!"  " W e l l , then you have the r i g h t t o 654,223 l i r e pay!"  he t e l l s me.  superintendent I filled  "Get  severance  your r e s i g n a t i o n form t o the  o f s c h o o l s through o f f i c i a l out the form.  channels."  I have i t i n f r o n t o f me;  I  r e - r e a d i t every once i n a w h i l e . I feel irresponsible.  With t h i s form I'm  my  pension, my  s a l a r y , my....  of  q u i t t i n g my  job at  How  g i v i n g up  c o u l d I ever have thought  school?  I don't have the courage to t u r n i n t h a t form. f a c t , I f e e l unsure o f my for  myself.  a c t i o n s ; I don't f e e l r e s p o n s i b l e  I t e a r up the form and f e e l  And I t h i n k , how  In  calmer.  c o u l d I ever have thought o f g i v i n g  up my independence and p u t t i n g myself my w i f e and my b r o t h e r - i n - l a w ?  at the d i s p o s a l o f  I walk back and f o r t h i n the  101  classroom t h i n k i n g :  responsibility.  I t r y t o f i n d an excuse t o g i v e Ada; I've found t h e excuse.  You never know, I ' l l t e l l her; I'm r e s p o n s i b l e  f o r Rino.  Rino's got t o study; he has t o graduate and  become a Group A. At home t h e r e ' s a f e s t i v e atmosphere.  On t h e t a b l e  i s t h e p o r c e l a i n d i n n e r s e r v i c e Ada b r i n g s out f o r s p e c i a l o c c a s i o n s ; i n t h e middle a round spot o f r e d , t h e a n t i p a s t o . My b r o t h e r - i n - l a w C a r l o i s t h e r e t o o . "I've  changed my mind," I say.  "I'm not a s k i n g f o r  the severance pay." Ada  shrugged h e r s h o u l d e r s .  she s a i d  " I ' l l have an a b o r t i o n , "  coldly.  I f e l t l i k e I ' d a l r e a d y gone through t h e scene, a l r e a d y lived i t . "That's b l a c k m a i l ! " I s a i d . Ada  shrugged h e r shoulders  "Monstrous mother!  again.  Infamous mother!" I s a i d , t h i n k i n g  of t h e r e p o r t e r ' s s t o r i e s . "A  cowardly a c t i o n f o r a cowardly a c t i o n , " she answered.  "I'm  n o t cowardly; I'm c a u t i o u s ! "  "You're cowardly." "Cautious!" " C a l l i t cautious." The words g r a t e d :  cowardly a c t i o n .  "So I'm a coward?"  102  "Obviously. got  What do you c a l l somebody who  hasn't  courage?" "He  c o u l d be a coward and he c o u l d be c a u t i o u s ! "  Ada  shrugged.  my o p i n i o n , " she  "I've a l r e a d y t o l d you what you are i n  said.  Ada went and put on an o l d mended dress and was to go out. "Oh, The  about  "Where are you going l i k e t h a t ? " maybe t o  t a r was  beg."  burning me.  My w i f e going around l i k e  a beggar. " B e s i d e s , I was "But nobody saw Ada  dressed l i k e t h i s underneath f o r years!" you!"  s p i t on the f l o o r .  r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n s ! " she "Ada,  "Those f l i m s y o l d bourgeois  said.  stop!"  I f i l l e d out the form a g a i n t h i n k i n g , t i l l clung t o the s c h o o l - r e e f ; now to my w i f e and my  I'll  now  change r e e f s ; I ' l l  I've cling  brother-in-law.  "Thy w i l l be done," I s i g h e d .  XXII.  I'm  o u t s i d e the A d m i n i s t r a t i o n O f f i c e .  I've got the  form i n my pocket, but I don't have the courage to open t h a t door.  T h i s morning, f o r e s e e i n g t h a t I wouldn't have  103  the courage, I t o l d a l l my c o l l e a g u e s about my i n t e n t i o n to  quit. '•So what're you gonna do?" Amiconi asked me. '•Be an i n d u s t r i a l i s t , " I answered. Amiconi and C i p o l l o n e both s t a r t e d l a u g h i n g . "You  wanna b e t y o u ' l l be s o r r y and end up t e a c h i n g a g a i n ! " The news spread through t h e c o r r i d o r s . minute some c o l l e a g u e would  Every other  come ask me i f i t was t r u e ,  i f t h e rumors going around r e a l l y corresponded t o t h e truth.  I nodded.  They l o o k e d a t me l i k e I was c r a z y .  Those l o o k s gave me a f e e l i n g o f p l e a s u r e . "An  industrialist?"  "An  industrialist!"  Now I was o u t s i d e t h e door:  I looked at the shiny  doorknob; I d i d n ' t have t h e courage t o r a i s e my hand and open the door.  I s t o o d t h e r e motionless, l e a n i n g a g a i n s t  the w a l l , and thought:  responsibility.  I s t a r e d at a t i l e on t h e f l o o r .  When I r a i s e d my  eyes I saw a l l my c o l l e a g u e s watching me  wide-eyed.  "Doesn't take l o n g t o spend your severance pay and then what?" Amiconi s a i d t o me. C h r i s t , a l l those eyes l o o k i n g a t me, p e n e t r a t i n g me, r e a d i n g my mind; those f a c e s f i x e d t h e r e steady and unmoving, with an a i r o f suspense l i k e watching an acrobat walk t h e t i g h t r o p e without a s a f e t y net underneath; they kept on watching me, watching watching watching....  104  "You  b e t t e r t h i n k t w i c e about what you're  C i p o l l o n e was I  telling  doing!"  me.  s t a r e d at the p r i n c i p a l ' s door and thought, I'm  here; I'm  here a l i v e and awake, r i g h t h e r e .  still  I read:  A d m i n i s t r a t i o n ; I see the door; I see my  c o l l e a g u e s and  I  quitting, giving i t  am w i t h t h i s p i e c e of paper s a y i n g I'm  up; I'm still  s t i l l here, and t h e y ' r e s t i l l  there, s t i l l  here  over t h e r e , t h e y ' r e  there.  " G e t t i n g i t up?" F i l i p p i I went back i n t o my  shouted.  classroom.  I sat there f o r h a l f  an hour w i t h my head i n my hands. P e s c h e t t i came i n w i t h the Gazzetta d e l l o S p o r t . guy from C h i l e - d'ya hear what he d i d ? t h r e e hundred two p o i n t f o u r . the classroom.  The thousand  What a phenomenon!"  The t e a c h e r s were s t i l l  "This in  I left  o u t s i d e the p r i n c i p a l ' s  door. So I thought,  J u s t can't stand the suspense,  and opened the door t o the o f f i c e with my p r i n c i p a l was  can you?,  eyes c l o s e d .  The  dumbfounded when I gave him the form.  He read i t word f o r word, then took out h i s pen f i l l e d i n a l l the m i s s i n g dots over the  and  i_'s.  "....when you d i v i d e a word the hyphens must never extend i n t o the margin...now t h a t I'm industrialist... Never use a row?  speaking w i t h an  You never begin a thought w i t h  'but' a f t e r a period...now why  Two  'but'.  t h r e e 'and's i n  are s u f f i c i e n t ; you use a comma i n p l a c e of the  105  third...  These l o o p s ; the same o l d problem...Mr....  industrialist He gave me me  Mombelli..." a permit so the s c h o o l board would advance  the money. When I went out my  l o o k i n g at me;  watching  c o l l e a g u e s were s t i l l me  j u s t l i k e you'd watch an  who's j u s t f i n i s h e d a dangerous number. N a n i n i s a i d , shaking my  standing there  " I envy  acrobat  you,"  hand.  Then I went t o the s c h o o l board o f f i c e a t the town hall.  "We  are e l e c t e d by the people i n order t o serve the  people," the t r e a s u r e r t o l d me,  counting out the money.  f e l t l i k e a p i l e o f t a r i n f r o n t of  I  him.  Ada and C a r l o were w a i t i n g f o r me  at home.  They were  p a l e and t i r e d from t h e l o n g w a i t . " T h i s i s the money," I s a i d . They s a t t h e r e i n amazement. see.  Then Ada  said,  "You'll  You won't be s o r r y . . . "  XXIII.  I'm  working f o r my w i f e and b r o t h e r - i n - l a w .  is a little  rented room.  I h e l p where I can.  The f a c t o r y  Besides t a k i n g  care o f the b u r e a u c r a t i c matters, I go home and l o c k the door, put on my work-clothes p a i r s t h e y send me,  and get t o work p o l i s h i n g the  g e t t i n g r i d of the ragged  edges, p u t t i n g  106  them i n t h e boxes. I'm f i n e s i n c e nobody sees me. was t o see me doing i t ,  I ' d look p r e t t y r i d i c u l o u s .  I'm s a t i s f i e d with myself. courage.  I t h i n k i f somebody  I performed an a c t o f  I'm g r a t e f u l t o Ada f o r making me perform t h i s  act o f courage.  I f e e l l i k e more o f a man.  XXIV.  My o l d c o l l e a g u e s a r e on v a c a t i o n .  The s c h o o l s a r e  c l o s e d ; I go through t h e P i a z z a on my b i k e and see them s i t t i n g t h e r e at t h e t a b l e s e n j o y i n g t h e i r v a c a t i o n . seized with t h i s f e e l i n g of s u p e r i o r i t y . working.  I think,  I'm  I'm  I work.  XXV.  My day's i n t e n s e .  I get up at s i x ; about one I f i n i s h  t h e f i r s t p a r t o f my day.  The second p a r t s t a r t s a t two and  f i n i s h e s a t e i g h t ; at nine t h e t h i r d p a r t  starts.  Looks l i k e t h e f a c t o r y ' s making p r o g r e s s . Ada know what t h e y ' r e  doing.  C a r l o and  I'm under them; I'm l i k e Rino,  but t h e f a c t I earn t h e same as h e r doesn't make me  feel  t h a t s t i n g o f m o r t i f i c a t i o n . I t was worse when I was a  107  s c h o o l t e a c h e r and she was small-time  a factory-worker.  Now  we're l i k e  owners.  XXVI.  I'm  i n on the l i t t l e  factory secrets.  Ada t o l d me  b r o t h e r wanted to keep me i n t h e dark about a l l the d e a l s t h a t go on. know a n y t h i n g . him.  I felt  He thought i t was  "You  her  little  better i f I didn't  don't know Antonio!"  Ada  answered  good about her answer.  XXVII.  An important it,  I've  t h i n g ' s happened t o me.  Without  changed t h r e e of my n e a r l y twenty-year-old  realizing habits.  I don't go t o the Bar any more i n the morning; at 6:00 I don't smoke my  o n l y c i g a r e t t e o f the day s t r e t c h e d out  the s o f a ; and on Sunday I don't p l a y cards a l l a f t e r n o o n any more.  The  o n l y h a b i t l e f t i s t a k i n g a walk through  the P i a z z a on Sunday and going t o Mass at noon.  P.M. on  108  XXVIII.  Ada's body g i v e s o f f t h i s t e n a c i o u s pleasant.  smell now. I t ' s  I t ' s not so p l e a s a n t when she t a l k s and g e s t u r e s .  She's g o t t e n very manlike.  XXIX.  We've l o s t another h a b i t , t h e one o f making l o v e a week.  twice  Now we o n l y do i t Saturday n i g h t o r Sunday morning.  XXX.  I'm a f r a i d t h e work's d i s t r a c t i n g Rino from h i s s t u d i e s . L u c k i l y i t ' s summer v a c a t i o n now.  Rino passed w i t h good  grades and he promised me h e ' l l study. amount o f t a r stuck on me:  There's s t i l l  a huge  I s t i l l want him t o be a Group A.  XXXI.  I'm l o s i n g a l o t o f t a r .  Today I f a c e d a c r e d i t o r and  asked him f o r t h e money he owes u s .  I t was e a s i e r than I  109  expected.  I thought I ' d be ashamed but i t j u s t  seemed l i k e  a very normal t h i n g t o do.  XXXII.  Ada's w o r r i e d about t h e baby being born. to  c a l c u l a t i o n s he should be born r i g h t  time f o r t h e b u s i n e s s .  a t t h e most  She's p r a y i n g i t ' l l  e a r l i e r , o r e l s e t e n days l a t e r . person t o me; completely d i f f e r e n t  According crucial  happen t e n days  Ada seems l i k e a  different  p h y s i c a l l y too; even h e r  voice.  XXXIII.  I have t h e f e e l i n g  of being s a t i s f i e d with  myself.  Tonight I s a t down a t the C a f f e S o c i a l e w i t h some small-time industrialists;  t h e same ones t h a t used t o get on my nerves  when I was a t e a c h e r and I'd see them s i t t i n g t h e r e s a t i s f i e d with  themselves.  110  P a r t Two  I  H o l i d a y today.  I worked t i l l  back t o t h e i r r i g a t i o n b r i d g e .  evening and then went  On t h e way I caught a glimpse  of Eva and h e r man working, so I took a d i f f e r e n t  road.  I  f i g u r e d a p a i n t i n g seen close-up i s always k i n d o f d i s appointing.  I ' d r a t h e r imagine h e r t h e way I saw h e r from  up on t h e b r i d g e . I s a t on t h e b r i d g e and saw t h e r a i l r o a d w i t h d i f f e r e n t eyes.  The same way I saw the space between t h e hut and t h e  r a i l r o a d with d i f f e r e n t  eyes.  I had t h i s f e e l i n g o f l i g h t n e s s .  A pleasant f e e l i n g ;  l i k e t h e one you have when you're" d i r t y and s l i d e i n t o the water and see t h e water get d i r t y and your body c l e a n .  That  kind of f e e l i n g . Eva l i k e s t h a t k i n d o f f e e l i n g t o o .  F o r h e r and h e r  man they're..not s i m i l e s f o r a r t i f i c i a l f e e l i n g , l i k e t h e y  Ill  are  f o r me;  this mud  but they're  real,  natural feelings.  e v e n i n g I s a w E v a a n d h e r man (even  covered with  mud  They were l a u g h i n g  around naked i n t h e  h e r body r a d i a t e d l i g h t )  plunge i n t o the water i n t h e glen pure.  roll  In fact  and  a n d come o u t c l e a n  happily,  notes;  the^man's  maybe. With  i s silvery  deep  o f a motorboat  harmony.  they're  on t h e wooden  there're  floor  start  I  I think  think  that  hear that  I feel  destroying  roar, wish  she  motorboats not so f a r from h e r .  right  a treasure  about h e r dying; t h a t way  now  that  repulsed  I'm  They're  lying face  I could  coinmitting a  by h e r .  take  i n h i s place,  their  doesn't belong t o  I practically  envious and s p i t e f u l  be t h e one t o l i v e  woman.  came f r o m t h e T i c i n o ,  well.  o f A d a a n d I'm  about h e r dying, place.  nothing.  and t h e sweetness r a d i a t i n g f r o m h e r  appropriating  thinking  before.  t h i n k i n g I ' d b e t t e r n o t come a n d s e e  anymore.  crime;  fairly  not a b i t of effort;  m a k i n g l o v e , E v a a n d h e r man.  makes t h e a i r sweet as I  I've never heard  I wish Eva couldn't  n o t know t h a t Now  to  i s a n o r m a l man's v o i c e ,  singing....  The r o a r  life  low  a fantastic naturalness:  could  hymns.  a n d becomes warm when s h e s i n g s  They were s i n g i n g l i k e  They were  the  voice  and  satisfied.  Then t h e y went i n t o t h e hut and s t a r t e d s i n g i n g Eva's voice  then  I  even  me.  start  delight i n thinking the woodcutter's  towards him; I ' d i n that  hut, with  like that  112  I'm  s t a r i n g at h i s t o e s .  I t must be w o n d e r f u l t o  always l i v e b a r e f o o t . There's a s t o n e n e a r me.  I wonder why i n t h e w o r l d  t h i s s t o n e ' s here i f i t wasn't here l a s t t i m e . brought i t h e r e .  Somebody's been by h e r e .  Somebody  I f e e l a hollow  kind of jealousy. I p i c k up t h e s t o n e and l e t i t drop i n t o t h e w a t e r of the glen.  A dismal 'gluk' r i s e s , gluk gluk gluk:  t r e e s send t h e echo back and  the  forth.  I see t h e woman r a i s e h e r eyes; h e r l o o k i s w o n d e r f u l . She can't see me;  I'm  s t r e t c h e d out on t h e g r a n i t e .  II.  My son was b o r n . soon as I saw him:  A s u s p i c i o n was b o r n w i t h him as  t h a t he's n o t mine!  He has r e d h a i r ,  a head f u l l o f r e d h a i r , and f r e c k l e s a l l o v e r h i s f a c e . T h i s makes me s u s p e c t he's n o t mine.  There a r e n ' t any  redheads i n my f a m i l y , and n o t i n my w i f e ' s e i t h e r . I had t h e baby i n my arms, and I l o o k e d a t my w i f e and thought I saw t h e u s u a l i r o n i c s m i l e .  I t ' s not mine!, I  thought. "He  c a n ' t be mine," I s a i d i n a s m a l l v o i c e .  "Thanks a l o t , " Ada  said.  113  She's s t a r t e d s l e e p i n g i n Rino's room a g a i n .  I don't  p i c k t h e baby up; I can't stand t o h o l d i t ; i t g i v e s me t h e f e e l i n g o f h o l d i n g an animal. "And  A base f e e l i n g .  what i f i t was yours?"  I t o l d Ada t o t e l l me once and f o r a l l . " I ' d r a t h e r know i t ' s not mine than wonder about i t , " I t o l d h e r . "I p i t y you,"  she answered.  I can t e l l I'm p i t i a b l e ; but i t ' s t o r t u r e t o t h i n k I have a son who i s n ' t mine, o r who might a l s o be mine. I went over Ada's l i f e o f t h e l a s t few months.  Sure,  we've had f i g h t s and b i g ones too; there've been disagreements and a l o t worse, and then - now t h a t I t h i n k about i t - t h a t sudden news, suddenly  b e i n g pregnant when we'd been going  a c c o r d i n g t o t h a t twice-a-week calendar f o r years; and t h e red h a i r .  W e l l , so many t h i n g s t h a t make me doubt he's mine.  "There's n o t h i n g l e f t between us," Ada s a i d . t h e r e f o r hours s t a r i n g I s i t mine?  I sit  at t h a t v i s c o u s head and t h i n k ,  Or i s i t me who's not i n c o n t r o l o f my mind  any more? I compare t h e baby t o Rino; t h e y ' r e j u s t t h e exact opposite.  There's n o t t h e s l i g h t e s t f a m i l y resemblance  i n t h i s redhead.  "But where d i d t h i s l i t t l e angel come  from?" My w i f e l o o k s a t me s a r c a s t i c a l l y . she t e l l s me a g a i n .  " I p i t y you,"  114  The day,  doubts l a s t e d f o r a day a n i g h t a day a n i g h t a  u n t i l the l i t t l e  n i g h t s and days.  one d i e d .  I had no peace d u r i n g  " I s i t mine?"  those  The q u e s t i o n hammered a t  my b r a i n . I welcomed h i s death l i k e a l i b e r a t i o n , l i k e a j o y : the way you welcome t h e announcement t h a t a d i s a g r e e a b l e r e l a t i v e who's i n s t a l l e d h i m s e l f i n your house i s l e a v i n g a f t e r a few days.  'I'm happy,' I'd t e l l  myself.  I'd answer myself,  'Happy because your son d i e d ? '  And then  "Now a r e you s a t i s f i e d ? " Ada asked me. " T e l l me t h e t r u t h ! " She l o o k e d a t me with t h e u s u a l i r o n i c s m i l e . wasn't f o r Rino I would have a l r e a d y separated complete r e j e c t l i k e you! She  "If i t  from a  Here's t h e money you l o a n e d us."  took out t h e money and s c o r n f u l l y threw i t p r a c t i c a l l y  i n my f a c e .  The money f e l l  on t h e t a b l e .  ways t o h u m i l i a t e somebody.  There a r e v a r i o u s  One o f them i s not t o r e a c t t o  rudeness, e s p e c i a l l y i f i t ' s v i o l e n t . "I  b e l i e v e he was my son!"  I said  dreamily.  She made h e r eyes g l i t t e r f i e r c e l y . you know! had  Why don't you j u s t l e a v e !  " I t ' s not necessary,  I f I was a man and I ' d  s u s p i c i o n s l i k e t h a t , I would've l e f t l o n g ago." Those words were l i k e f i s t s . "Not  a s i n g l e minute....  i f I was i n your p l a c e ! "  She r e a l i z e d i t .  I would've l e f t  immediately  115  I  b i t ray l i p s  t i l l  blood  came.  III.  My an  abyss  slept this and  wife started between us.  like  two  terrible I'd t e l l "Why  petty.  friends, feeling  period.  So  g a v e my she  She  It  son wasn't  have r e d h a i r ? " sick;  we have  son's  death;  mine.  I'd  ask  these doubts  put  severance  pay  myself.  I  t h a t were  I've  "Ada,  never  seen  was  lying  felt  torturing  I was  and  her  account  my  drawer  and  so  far  p a c i n g t h e room w i t h  and  tell  me  at the  ceiling,  p r o j e c t e d onto something;  the father,  i n I've  Ada,  my at  the  the  ceiling.  i f you'd  just  i t ' d be  different.  i t ! "  gave her u s u a l i r o n i c  t h e n a s n e e r and  take  i t .  I w o n d e r i f I'm believe  I wouldn't  opened an  down s t a r i n g  i f you'd j u s t  why  She  and  p u t t h e b a n k b o o k i n my  Ada  Maybe I ' d  b a c k t o me.  i t i n t h e bank  shadows p a s s i n g i n t h e s t r e e t  smiling  i n my  was  other;  so o f t e n I ' d  that I'd rejoiced  xvas n i g h t t i m e a n d  doubts.  me  Every  each  there  sick.  pretended  ask  a g a i n but  d i d n ' t speak t o  myself that  does he  Ada  name.  We  I made m y s e l f  m a d e me  i t .  s l e e p i n g w i t h me  s e n t o f f an  smile,  that  atrocious  smile softened, then  became  stink.  She  sarcastic, kept  repeated i t s e l f  on  cruelly  116  as t h e s t i n k began t o g i v e me a headache. "Give me a chance t o e x p l a i n .  You were i n f a c t o r i e s ;  you worked w i t h men; you're a working woman.  T r y and put  y o u r s e l f i n my shoes!" She kept on s m i l i n g without answering.  Then she s a i d ,  "I've a l r e a d y t o l d you what I ' d do i f I was i n your p o s i t i o n . " Why d i d n ' t I g e t out o f t h a t house? kept me i n s i d e those f o u r w a l l s ?  What was i t t h a t  I would t h i n k i t was  R i n u c c i o and then t e l l myself, R i n u c c i o * s an excuse. I t ' s f e a r t h a t ' s h o l d i n g me back, f e a r . "I  r e a l l y l o o k down on you,"  she s a i d w i t h a p i t y i n g  melancholy a i r . That e x p r e s s i o n and t h a t f a c e were l i k e two punches in  t h e stomach. "I  I  r e a l l y l o o k down on you,"  she repeated.  "I'm l e a v i n g .  f e e l t o o s o r r y f o r you." And I'm t h i n k i n g , I'm here, I'm awake, I'm a l i v e , I'm  me and I'm p a c i n g t h i s room t h a t s m e l l s vaguely o f my w i f e , o f t h a t being I've l i v e d w i t h f o r so many years and don't know. I don't know my w i f e . l o o k s down on me.  My w i f e , who must know me w e l l i f she  I l o o k out t h e window a t t h e s t r e e t s , t h e  houses and l i g h t s , and t h i n k about how I'm here, c l o s e d i n here, s t i l l  here i n t h i s house, w i t h a woman I suspect was  u n f a i t h f u l t o me, and I'm s t i l l  s t a y i n g here w i t h her,  still  here w i t h her, under t h e same r o o f , w h i l e she t e l l s me t h a t if  she was i n my p o s i t i o n she'd l e a v e .  117  I'm b i t i n g feeling myself Now  of pleasure.  I sink  s e e , i fI ' d s t i l l  h a d my  s t i l l  here,  s t i l l  keep on s t a y i n g The  scaffolding stare  j o b , my s a l a r y , I w o u l d  here,  her!  C h r i s t , was t h a t  a  feel  s t i l l  job?  have  And meanwhile I  here, here,  stay  and I know  here.  I stare  me.  In fact It r y  at a red light  o f a house under c o n s t r u c t i o n ,  at i t ;that  me  into the flesh,  baby's r e d head dances before  make i t c o n c r e t e .  gives  d i d I q u i t my t e a c h i n g  Y e s s i r , I would have l e f t  here, I ' l l  my t e e t h  s u f f e r i n g a n d t h i n k , Why  left!  to  o n e o f my f i n g e r s a n d t h e p a i n  r e d i s t h e h e a d o f my  on t h e  stare  s o n who  a ti t , died.  h e a d m i n e , was i t m i n e o r w a s n ' t  Oh  i t . . . .  IV.  I've rag;  got t o restore  obviously  brother-in-law, of  equilibrium.  a t t h e f a c t o r y I'm who  t r e a t me l i k e  them, a f r i e n d o f t h e f a m i l y !  exactly At my  my  I feel  like  a  d e p e n d e n t o n my w i f e a stranger Obviously  o r , how my w o r k  and  good isn't  e s s e n t i a l t o them. home l i f e  goes on i n s o l i t u d e .  I've got t o  restore  equilibrium! I  think  o f t h e r e p o r t e r who  f i n d s i ti n t h e  games; when he s t a r t s g i v i n g a d v i c e - o r d e r s and t h e coach.  Obviously  we  restore  soccer  to the players  our equilibrium i n  118  f r o n t o f people  we c o n s i d e r i n f e r i o r t o u s .  ray c o l l e a g u e s .  I t ' s not that I consider myself  to  I think of superior  them; t h e y ' r e t h e o n e s who c o n s i d e r me s u p e r i o r . "You've r e a l l y g o t g u t s ! " t h e y t e l l  them.  "You r e a l l y h a d  me when I r u n i n t o  nerve!"  N a n i n i c o n f i d e d i n me t h a t v a r i o u s t i m e s h e was o n the point o f q u i t t i n g last  a n d he a l w a y s l o s t h i s n e r v e a t t h e  minute. "And I'm n o t t h e o n l y o n e ! " h e t o l d  me.  I know o f c o l l e a g u e s who d a b b l e i n b u s i n e s s their  during  s p a r e t i m e ; who'd be g l a d t o b e r i d o f s c h o o l , b u t  they just  don't f e e l l i k e h a n d i n g i n t h e form I handed i n .  Compared t o them I'm s u p e r i o r . I  go t o t h e B a r t h i n k i n g , I'm g o i n g t o r e s t o r e my  e q u i l i b r i u m , t o f e e l l i k e ME.  I s e e my c o l l e a g u e s  the l i t t l e t a b l e s , k i l l i n g time.  around  Vacation has given  b o r e d f a c e s , a n d t h a t makes me f e e l g o o d .  them  I'm a b o u t t o  r e s t o r e my e q u i l i b r i u m . I isn't  s i t down w i t h t h e m a n d g e t t h e f e e l i n g e x a c t l y welcome.  Cipollone  my p r e s e n c e  "Here's t h e b i g i n d u s t r i a l i s t ! "  mutters.  B r a g a g l i a w a n t s t o know how much s e v e r a n c e p a y I g o t . "654,225 l i r e , "  I say.  "That can't be!" he s a y s , " T h a t ' s what i t was." "Are  you s u r e ? "  frowning.  119  To "That's  calm  h i m down, I t a k e  t h e exact  "No,  figure,"  out the receipt  and read  i t .  I say.  y o u must have g o t t e n  654,223," h e s a y s .  "Twenty-five!" " T h e n t h e y made a m i s t a k e  i n calculating  i t , "  he  ansxvers. "You're r i g h t , "  I tell  " I t ' s 654,223."  him.  "See?" he says, pleased w i t h h i m s e l f . something, "Can "We  I k n o w w h a t I'm t a l k i n g I offer  you a l l something  don't need  Cipollone  c h a r i t y from  Cornmittee's  t o be here.  and says, haven't  "Pardon;  "So  "How's y o u r  factory  firm!"  watched; I can t o g e t me w i t h .  going?"  I answer  humbly.  he c o r r e c t s h i m s e l f . I say.  what i s i t you've g o t ? "  "I've  Tenth  enough, C i p o l l o n e w i n k s a t  got a factory,"  your  I feel  o f something  Sure  haven't got a firm,"  hand i n h i s  that  waiting for...not yet, not yet!..."  I'm s a t i s f i e d  "I  I ask.  "We've g o t s a l a r i e s , "  fumes, " I don't know what t h e h e l l  my c o l l e a g u e s a r e t h i n k i n g  "I  to drink?"  you.  I'm r e s t o r i n g my e q u i l i b r i u m .  Pagliani  about...."  answers.  Amiconi  tell  "When I s a y  Varaldi  asks, putting  a  pocket. got a k i n d o f work-shop i n p a r t n e r s h i p w i t h  brother-in-law,"  I  answer.  my  120  V a r a l d i shakes h i s head and says, " I bet you're s o r r y you gave up the school!" "Ha!"  I gesture; I can see my g l o a t i n g face through  the glass of cognac and i t bothers even me. "We're on vacation!" C i p o l l o n e s a i d . "Well, considering how much you make...." I answered, s t a r t i n g t o get mad. My colleagues looked at each other. where i t h u r t .  I'd h i t them  My answers were going through t h e i r t a r  l i k e knifethrusts. " I bet you don't even get as much as somebody at point t o t a l 202!" Amiconi s a i d . I rubbed my hands.  " I f somebody at point t o t a l 202  wants t o come work f o r me, I ' l l have him making three thousand a day!" "So quit showing o f f , show-off!" V a r a l d i muttered. We a l l got p r e t t y hot under the c o l l a r .  I ordered  another cognac. "Step on i t , Mosco," I s a i d t o the w a i t e r . "Mosco?" C i p o l l o n e s a i d .  "Why not Leningrad too?" he  guffawed h a p p i l y . "I'm  p o s i t i v e Mombelli makes about as much as a point  t o t a l 325, but no more!" B r a g a g l i a s a i d . The p r i n c i p a l went by and everybody jumped t o t h e i r f e e t ; except me - I stretched out my l e g s .  121  "He's in  g o t t o w o r k t h r e e m o n t h s t o make w h a t I make  a month," I s a i d .  talking,  But I f e l t  like  i t was somebody  n o t me.  "He's  i n G r o u p A!  kidding?!"  Bragaglia  He's a t p o i n t  told  drank  said.  t h e cognac,  paid with  muttered.  a thousand-lire  bill,  my  tongue,  "Mere money!" I  really  e n j o y e d t h e l o o k s o n my  colleagues*  faces.  "But  y o u won't g e t any p e n s i o n ! " C i p o l l o n e  muttered.  "I'm  not l i v i n g  sharply.  A tense silence  f o ra p e n s i o n ! " I answered followed.  t h e next phase o f t h e b a t t l e  felt  superior;  that  t h e y w a n t e d t o g e t me. "Say  your  a r e you  t h e w a i t e r t o keep t h e change and, c l i c k i n g  said,  for  478;  total  "Besides he's got indemnity," Amiconi I  else  whatever  earnings. "I  I could  tell  of preparing  b e t w e e n me a n d t h e m .  t h e y were f e e l i n g  believe  never d i d believe  about  a word o f i t , " Amiconi  i t ! " Varaldi  come t e l l  I  inferior;  y o u w a n t , b u t I ' v e g o t my d o u b t s  I don't  O b v i o u s l y he c a n ' t  The s i l e n c e  said.  said.  "You k i d d i n g ?  us he's s o r r y he l e f t t h e  school!" I lire  pulled  bills.  out a handful o f thousand "That  enough?"  "Good manners you've g o t , s h o w i n g muttered. you  imagine  " I think  and ten-thousand  your  money,"  Amiconi  q u i t t i n g was c o m p u l s o r y . . . .  an educator doing something  like  that?  Can Waving  122  his  money  it's  around!"  Varaldi  gave a l i t t l e  because  t h e money b e l o n g s  "I  beg t o d i f f e r  smile.  "When p e o p l e  t o somebody  - i t ' s mine," I  I  snorted,  that  else!"  said.  "Then t h a t means y o u e a r n i t , u h , somewhat handed...." C i p o l l o n e  do  under-  said.  " I f you want t o t h i n k  s o , go ahead; i f  not...." "But got  how c a n y o u e a r n t h a t much i f y o u s a i d  a factory,  He l a u g h e d . I  over:  "No a n s w e r , e h ?  or a firm. four  workers  s h o e m a k e r s who p e g my s h o e s ,  who s t i t c h  'em a t t h e i r h o u s e !  y o u make o n a p a i r  "A f e w h u n d r e d "Eight "Oh,  hundred  said.  f o r me a l l  another We  got a  just  four p u t them i n  i t . . , . "  "How m u c h c o u l d  lire  o f shoes?"  Varaldi  a t t h e most!"  lire  a pair!"  lire  a pair,  I  said.  come o n ! "  "Eight  hundred  They f e l t said,  Amiconi  Got you, g o tyou!"  I've got people working  boxes and t h a t ' s  said.  got a firm...."  s n o r t e d condescendingly, "You b e t I haven't  factory  the  you haven't  you haven't  t h e blow.  After  I s w e a r t o God," I r e p e a t e d . a minute  of silence,  " D e p e n d s how many y o u make a n d how many y o u  Cipollone  sell,  though!" "We I  make f o r t y d o z e n  said with  a satisfied  a day and s e l l  smile.  e v e r y one o f them,"  123  Then, s i n c e  I was b e a t i n g  t h e y were t u r n i n g w h i t e not  all!  taxi;  a t my w o r d s ) , I a d d e d , " A n d  I go a n d b u y t h e l e a t h e r o u t s i d e  that  stall;  way I g e t a r o u n d  take that  customs.  I swaggered over and bought  had  went back  see that's  of Vigevano,  And I h i d e  by  i ti n a  i n t o account t o o ! "  Nobody s a i d another word.  and  t h e m a n y w a y (I c o u l d  o v e r t o my  I'd restored  my  equilibrium.  some p a c k s o f S u l t a n o  colleagues.  I was s o r r y  cigarettes; Varaldi  left.  V.  Sultano to  my  cigarettes are long.  clients  "But....go  a n d t h e s u p p l i e r s , " I s a i d t o my  colleagues.  ahead!"  N o b o d y a c c e p t e d my light  "I b o u g h t t h e m t o o f f e r  cigarettes.  one f o rm y s e l f when C i p o l l o n e  I was j u s t a b o u t t o s a i d , " D i d you n o t i c e ,  M o m b e l l i , when V a r a l d i p u t h i s hand i n h i s p o c k e t ? " face,  h i s smile  colleagues, as  p u t me  at a loss.  who w e r e w a t c h i n g me w i t h  when I ' d been o u t s i d e  resignation  I looked  f o r m i n my  at the  t h e same  the principal's office  His other  expression with the  hand.  "Why?" "So Cipollone  you d i d n o t i c e h i m put h i s hand i n h i s pocket?" said.  "And y o u saw him...."  124  "...scratch  himself!"  Cipollone burst "What's g o i n g  out  on?  laughing. T e l l me!"  I  said with  a sinking  feeling. C i p o l l o n e was fact,  first  uncrossed "I  he  g e t t i n g ready to t e l l  crossed  them and  must t e l l  you,  Revenue agent has know what t h e you  put  his left the  l e g over  right  my  me  one  his right,  over  dear Mombelli,  something.  the  t h a t an I n t e r n a l  b i g Vigevano businessmen are the  then  left.  been around here f o r a l i t t l e  know i t o r d o n ' t you,  In  while.  You  c a l l i n g him?  nickname they've given  Do  this  guy?" " W e l l , what are "Waiter,  a  my  coffee hot;  can  just  throw i t  Cipollone  swallowed.  the waiter; then calling  him  Javert;  you  "So  he  right  You  'cause  don't want i t ;  I  you  what d i d t h i s  over  the  yelled.  calmly waited  " I t ' s hot,  for his  i t ' s hot,"  h i m s e l f t o me.  k n o w who  character of Les  pronounce i t  one  He  addressed  Cipollone laughed. the  I  c a l l i n g him?!" I  coffee.  Javert.  tremendous  hot  i t ' s hot,  out...."  they  the  him?!"  make s u r e  i f i t isn't  "What a r e  calmly drank  calling  c o f f e e ; and  like  this  they  J a v e r t was? Miserables.  he  coffee, said  to  "They're Javert You  was  spell i t  zha-ver."  Javert He left  do?"  uncrossed again.  h i s l e g s , then  The  other  crossed  colleagues  125  were s i t t i n g  there  eyes b u l g i n g . he'd  "This  n e v e r be a b l e  connections  with  t h e i r mouths h a n g i n g open,  Javert," Cipollone  t o check on a p i l e  and c o m p l i c a t i o n s  where a r e a l l t h e business concluded? in  And t h i s  t h e bars!  told  himself:  So t h e n what d i d h e d o ?  t o what p e o p l e were s a y i n g  He s a y s : out,  a young guy spending  so he  and  thought:  born and developed and i n the cafes,  He h a d o l d r e t i r e d  g u y s o r e l s e g u y s who w e r e a b o u t t o r e t i r e ears  "realized  o f businesses  and o f f i c e s ,  deals  Javert  said,  their  i n the bars  prick and  up  their  cafes.  a l l day i n a cafe  stands  b u t a n o l d man..." "Go o n ! " " . . . . w h a t I'm t e l l i n g  y o u I know f o r s u r e  because  I  was a s k e d i f I w a n t e d t o do i t t o o . . . " "Go o n ! " Cipollone listen have  swallowed,  and r e p o r t  sighed  and s a i d ,  what t h e y h e a r t o J a v e r t .  come u p s o m e t i m e s o r t h e y ' v e r e p o r t e d  weren't t r u e , Javert pocket tape "So  "These Since things  had them a l l s u p p l i e d w i t h  guys doubts that  l i t t l e  recorders."  Varaldi...."  "Varaldi  p u t h i s hand i n h i s pocket  tape recorder,"  Cipollone  said.  to scratch the  126  VI.  Night.  I walk around t h e bedroom; t h e a i r ' s f u l l o f  smoke; how many Sultanos have I smoked so f a r ? I go over t h e scene i n t h e P i a z z a ; my waving t h e money around, m o r t i f y i n g my c o l l e a g u e s . to  So t a r d r i v e s you t o t h i s ;  t h i s k i n d o f pettyness? To showing o f f about what my w i f e and my  brother-in-law  make, thanks t o t h e i r work and t h e i r shrewdness?  I hear my  v o i c e a g a i n s a y i n g , " I make t h i s , I make t h a t . . . . " my c o l l e a g u e s * faces. The  I see  e x p r e s s i o n s , t h e i r eyes, t h e c o l o r o f t h e i r  E q u i l i b r i u m , I say t o myself,  equilibrium.  f r e n z y was s t a r t i n g t o t u r n i n t o anger a t myself,  d i s g u s t a t my p e t t y n e s s . My w i f e ' s s n o r i n g .  I deserve a c o l l e a g u e l i k e V a r a l d i . I can see t h e covers go up and down  i n time w i t h h e r calm b r e a t h i n g and s n o r i n g .  Ah!  Ah!  Ah!.  I can't stand t h a t b r e a t h i n g any more, so I go i n t h e d i n i n g room t o smoke another S u l t a n o . Tape r e c o r d e r .  Meanwhile I t h i n k ,  J u s t when t h e business i s c u t t i n g i t s t e e t h ,  I t a l k , I go hang our d i r t y l a u n d r y out i n t h e P i a z z a ; a f f a i r s t h a t aren't j u s t my a f f a i r s .  My b r o t h e r - i n - l a w was  r i g h t t o want t o keep me i n t h e dark about t h e l i t t l e factory deals.  I f C a r l o and Ada f i n d out about i t ? !  My h e a r t was pounding. r e f l e c t e d i n the mirror.  I l o o k e d up and saw myself  That shape w i t h t h a t l o n g c i g a r e t t e  127  in  i t s m o u t h i s me; me,  It  looked  like  That l o n g like  me t h a t  it's  myself.  cigarette right  then;  that  shape t h a t  -back t o me;  looked  that's  me.  t h r e w t h e c i g a r e t t e down a n d g o t u p t h i n k i n g , s o t h e n  bothering  me!  snoring  I t ' s me.  a m i n u t e ago I t o l d  that's  everything. face  I  I look  at myself i n the mirror  h i s equilibrium.  her snoring  any  more, t h a t light  room a g a i n  to find  again  rise  crazy.  and f a l l  another Sultano  barefoot.  I step  seems l i k e  into  I can't  I laugh  'em  because and  bed, t r y t o sleep. stand  that  that  walking  on t h e s t i l l - l i t fair  told  equilibrium.  o f t h e covers, and s t a r t  how  and see  h i s colleagues  So much f o r y o u r  d r i v e s me  and t h e pain  that's  didi t ; I told  o f a n u n b a l a n c e d man a n d I l a u g h ;  But  i t ' s me  a b o u t h o w I'm a l i v e ;  I really  go back i n t h e bedroom, s l i p  I  me;  t h e w h o l e P i a z z a a b o u t my a f f a i r s ,  t h a t man w e n t t o t h e P i a z z a restore  bothering  And I t h i n k  h o w s m a r t I am, h o w m u c h I e a r n ;  butts  at  s o m e b o d y c a r i c a t u r i n g me.  n o t my w i f e ' s  this  I stared  t h e m i r r o r was r e f l e c t i n g  me, me me me I  t h a t ' s me.  snoring  calm....  around t h e cigarette  punishment, t h e way  my  m o t h e r ' s s l a p s u s e d t o r e w a r d my p r a n k s w h e n I w a s a k i d . Pranks, I thought. a  prank.  stupid he  i s :  affairs  The w o r d  like  W h a t h a v e I d o n e a t my a g e ?  'prank'  the face  has a s t u p i d r i n g  the mirror  i t ' s t h e p r a n k man! to h i s colleagues  reflects  T h e man who  to humiliate  i n my  Played  mind;  b a c k t o me.  There  goes and t e l l s h i s  them; t h e p r a n k s o f  'em  128  a  g u y who's p a s t  guy  forty  and going  on f i f t y ,  who's l o o k i n g f o r e q u i l i b r i u m .  equilibrium  by destroying  myself i n the mirror, street, and  t h a t ' s me  talking And  t o myself and saying,  when s h e b r e a t h e s i t ' slike  out;  I'm h e r e a l i v e  and t h i n k i n g  " I n t e r n a l Revenue!  p l a y i n g and answering  i n i t ' s a harsh  told  andi t  each  sound, when she  a w h i s t l e ; c a l m l y my M r s . b r e a t h e s  Javert!"  breathes  i n  her brother,  other;  breathes  "You don't  Antonio!" It  m a k e s me l a u g h ;  s h e w a s t h e o n e who  h u s b a n d , t h e o n e who k e p t me w e l l - i n f o r m e d the  from t h e  she goes on s n o r i n g ,  s e r e n e my M r s . ; my M r s . who  know  Me me l o o k i n g a t  i n the pale l i g h t  a n d I'm a l i v e ,  two i n s t r u m e n t s  ...Who w a n t s t o g e t h i s  people's.  reflected  she keeps on s n o r i n g ,  sounds l i k e  out  other  the pranks o f a  one who's b r e a t h i n g  of the j u s t . evaporated,  The s l e e p i t ' s burning  d i d n ' t know h e r about t h e d e a l s ,  c a l m l y now a n d s l e e p i n g t h e s l e e p of the just!  The c i g a r e t t e h a s  out on t h e f l o o r ,  a r e d d o t ;r e d  like  t h e head o f t h e baby I don't know w h e t h e r i s mine o r  not;  red like  of burnt by  tobacco  the smell  that's  that; i t ' s evaporating  s t i l l  that's infesting  o f our bodies, calm;  and g i v i n g o f f a  the a i r already infested  b y Ada's b r e a t h i n g ,  and t h e covers  at myself i n the mirror again  her breathing  go u p a n d down; a n d I  and t h i n k , t h a t ' s  can't  bathroom...  take  look  r e a l l y me  seeing. I  smell  i t a n y more; I go l o c k m y s e l f i n t h e  I'm  129  VII.  Waking up i n t h e bathroom i s a u n i q u e f e e l i n g ! wake up and can t e l l I d i d n ' t wake up on my own;  I  that  somebody's pounding, but I don't r e a l i z e r i g h t away where I am.  And t h e n I see t h e s i n k and f e e l my arm ache and t h i n k ,  my arm was r e s t i n g on t h e s i n k and my head was r e s t i n g on my arm.  I get up and r e a l i z e I was s i t t i n g on t h e t o i l e t  bowl, and t h e morning l i g h t t e l l s me I spent t h e n i g h t t h a t t o i l e t bowl. on t h e d o o r . are down.  And meanwhile t h a t f i s t keeps  on  pounding  I t a k e a s t e p and j u s t about f a l l ; my  pants  I look at myself i n t h a t s t a t e , i n those  s u r r o u n d i n g s and get a t o r t u r e d f e e l i n g , not from p a i n but from d i s g u s t , and I t h i n k , I spent t h e n i g h t i n h e r e . And now I remember why I spent t h e n i g h t i n h e r e .  And  t h a t pounding goes on a t t h e d o o r . I t a k e my t i m e about g o i n g t o open i t because ashamed.  I'm  A t a r r e d shame, and meanwhile I l o o k around  t h i n k t h a t what I'm  and  s e e i n g r e a l l y i s a bathroom, t h a t I  s l e p t l e a n i n g on t h e s i n k , t h a t I spent t h e n i g h t h e r e , and I p r a c t i c a l l y r e l i s h a l l t h e s e r e a l i z a t i o n s , l i k e a s a d i s t would r e l i s h t o r t u r e .  "I'm h e r e , I'm  The f i s t i s s t i l l pounding. my w i f e , who l o w e r s h e r e y e s .  a l i v e , I'm  awake!"  I open t h e door and see  130  I aired in  put myself t o bed thinking  attract  I t r yt o  "You  give  you t h ethermometer  cankeep i t ,  live  'sir'  sir?"  ma'am!"  " I ' l l  away."  i n a n a b s u r d a t m o s p h e r e ; t h e woman w h o  i s t h e o n e who m a r r i e d  rudeness.  She l o o k s  She's l e a n e d indulgently. really  right  ma'am!"  "Put t h ethermometer i n ! "  was  back  her pity.  "No,  I  been  S h e comes  becomes a n g u i s h e d .  "You're n o t f e e l i n g w e l l ,  her  t h ebed hasn't  y e t ; t h a t maybe A d a s e n s e d s o m e t h i n g .  t h e r o o m a n d my b r e a t h i n g  me  that  "Antonio,  yours;  me. she says harshly.  a t me a n d I f e e l  against  calls  I  like  ashamed o f m y s e l f .  t h eheadboard and l o o k s  a t me  t h e dead baby was y o u r s o n .  I swear t o you on R i n o ' s head t h a t  He that  baby was y o u r s ! " Her  voice i ssorrowful and that  but restrained;  with  tears;  that  you weren't i n bed, I can't  she goes on w i t h I  h u r t s me.  i t sounds  thick  " T h i s m o r n i n g when I saw e x p l a i n what I  felt,"  t h e same v o i c e , w h i l e h e r e y e s d a r k e n .  s e e s h e h a s shadows u n d e r h e r e y e s , a n d h e r eyes a r e  swollen.  " I put myself i n your shoes, Antonio!  gets t o t h epoint he's  suffering,  baby was y o u r s ! "  I fhe  o f s l e e p i n g i n t h e b a t h r o o m , i t means  poor guy.  I'm t e l l i n g  you again:  the  131  To g e t r i d o f t h e t h o u g h t s t h a t start  laughing  died."  and s a y , "And t o t h i n k  She g i v e s  voice  sounded  e x c u s e me  false,  her  hand  t h r o u g h my h a i r  for  h a v i n g had a son w i t h  h o t , s w e a t y ; my  comfortingly. thirty-seven  and t e l l s  a pain  I he  just I  Ada  "You excuse  said. runs  me,  red hair!" out and l o o k s  f a c e must be b l a z i n g .  something.  at i t . She  I  smiles  i t shows  Normal!"  don't f e e l  well!"  I said,  trying  to  feel  somewhere.  "But t h e  thermometer...."  " W h i c h d o y o u b e l i e v e m o r e , me I  me,  t o me.  "You haven't g o t a n y t h i n g ;  "But I s t i l l  "Ada, I  a n d f o r g i v e me!"  irritating  She t a k e s t h e thermometer feel  i n wait  I was h a p p y when  an u n d e r s t a n d i n g s m i l e .  want t o s a y two t h i n g s ; My  are lying  asked h e r , and I f e l t  childish  o r t h e thermometer?"  right  then, after  that  question. "You, don't  Antonio,"  feel...."  Ada answered.  " S t a y i n bed i f you  132  VIII.  The hours went by s l o w l y . Ancestral.  I s t a y e d i n bed and thought,  I l i k e d the sound o f the word:  s a i d i t again, A n c e s t r a l .  Then I thought  Ancestral. about my  I  state,  about why I was i n bed i n the middle o f t h e morning, and I shouted i n a f i t o f rage, ' A n c e s t r a l ! ' I got ready t o go t a l k t o V a r a l d i . towards s c h o o l I thought  While I walked  about how I was going t o h u m i l i a t e  myself b e f o r e t h a t man; and, m e c h a n i c a l l y , I repeated the word A n c e s t r a l . conventual. at  Ancestral.  A n c e s t r a l , t h a t rhymes w i t h  Conventual, t h a t rhymes w i t h a n c e s t r a l .  And  each step I repeated a n c e s t r a l , conventual, a n c e s t r a l ,  conventual• I went i n t o V a r a l d i ' s classroom and got s h i v e r s up and down my s p i n e .  My c o l l e a g u e was s i t t i n g i n the middle  of the room w i t h a r e g a l a i r and w i t h a k i n d o f bathrobe on.  H i s students were a l l s i t t i n g around him c r o s s - l e g g e d  and a c r o s s from him a boy w i t h a fake beard, g l a s s e s , a wig, and a t e l e s c o p e i n h i s hand was s t a r i n g a t t h e l i g h t and s a y i n g , "And y e t i t moves!" " G a l i l e o , you're a t the t e l e s c o p e , " V a r a l d i "Yes,  teacher."  " I am the Doge o f Venice!" "Yes,  Doge!"  said.  133  V a r a l d i c a l l e d f o r q u i e t and then s a i d , " T h i s S i r G a l i l e o says he's made a d i s c o v e r y !  What c o u l d i t be!"  He p o i n t s t o a boy, who stands up and says,  "Doge,  your most Serene Highness - G a l i l e o G a l i l e i i s here!" "Have him enter a t once!" V a r a l d i answered. "Your most humble s e r v a n t , " G a l i l e o s a i d w i t h a bow. " T e l l me about your d e v i c e ! " "My d e v i c e could be o f much use t o you, Doge, because it  can see f a r away and can s i g h t s a i l s and s h i p s  before  others spy them w i t h the naked eye!" "Meaning," the Doge s a i d , " t h a t we could d e t e c t a s h i p two hours o r more before she could d e t e c t u s ? " "Certainly!" "I want t o t r y i t ! " At t h i s p o i n t t h e students "Rude good-for-nothing!"  r e a l i z e d t h a t I ' d come i n .  V a r a l d i screamed a t me.  "Ask  p e r m i s s i o n f i r s t , you bum!" Then he l o o k e d a t me through the t e l e s c o p e and excused himself.  " I thought i t was t h e j a n i t o r , " he s a i d .  The  dressing-gown was i n h i s way and I thought he l o o k e d s o r t o f ashamed. "I'm g i v i n g an a c t i v e l e s s o n , " he mumbled. "I  noticed!"  "But i t ' s not done y e t , " he s a i d . accused me o f m a t e r i a l i s m .  "The p r i n c i p a l  So now t h e r e ' s t h e d i v i n e  i n s p i r a t i o n w i t h God Almighty."  134  "Uh,  excuse me.,.." I s a i d ,  V a r a l d i l o o k e d askance at me. to his  G a l i l e o , who  Meanwhile he motioned  had h i s beard i n h i s hand and was  rubbing  chin. "Your monologue, G a l i l e o ! " Galileo:  "The  t r y i n g again.  s e c r e t o f my  success?  T r y i n g and  then  I i n v i t e d the Doge t o l o o k a t the s h i p s ,  because he's i n t e r e s t e d i n s h i p s more than a n y t h i n g e l s e , s i n c e we're i n a c i t y on the A d r i a t i c and i n the middle t h e r e ' s the l a g o o n . the sky! "On  W i l l my  But I want to f o c u s my instrument  eyes be worthy?"  your knees!" V a r a l d i  G a l i l e o , on h i s knees: g i f t of sight! of t h y work.  Doge: i n 1564,  shouted. "Yea, L o r d God,  preserve  my  Yea, f o r I t h i r s t t o d i s c o v e r the b e a u t i e s Yea, t h a t I may  t i o n w i t h the u n i v e r s e ! ever h i g h e r !  on  l i v e forever i n divine i n s p i r a -  Yea, t h a t I may  see ever h i g h e r ,  Yea...." "Marvelous!  Oh G a l i l e o G a l i l e i , born i n P i s a  you are the founder o f modern s c i e n c e ! "  At t h a t p o i n t a boy h i t the l i g h t , which swayed back and f o r t h menacingly.  "And  yet i t moves!" G a l i l e o  " J u s t a minute, k i d s ! " V a r a l d i s a i d a f t e r I'd  shouted. grabbed  him by the s l e e v e and repeated t h a t I had t o t a l k t o "What are you doing here?" he s a i d , s t a r i n g a t "They t o l d me was  p e t t y o f me  you....I mean....  Look, V a r a l d i ,  y e s t e r d a y t o t a l k about my  affairs,  him. me. that but  135  you...." "What about me?" "They t o l d me you r e p o r t back...."  Meanwhile I s t a r e d  a t him w h i l e he s t a r e d a t me. "....Is i t true?" "Mombelli, do you r e a l i z e income t a x evasion i s a s i n ? And  a grave one too?  Decreed by t h e Pope?  ....As a C a t h o l i c ,  I must combat s i n and s i n n e r s . . . . "  IX.  C a r l o and Ada a r e s t a n d i n g  i n f r o n t o f me.  i s s t a r i n g a t me w i t h t h i s f i e r c e  My w i f e  look.  "Antonio, t h e I n t e r n a l Revenue guys were here t h i s morning." "Oh?" "They knew we make e i g h t hundred l i r e on a p a i r o f shoes; they knew how many dozens we make a day...." "Really?" "They slapped  a g i g a n t i c f i n e on u s ! "  "You're k i d d i n g ! " "Antonio, one o f us t a l k e d ! " Q u i c k l y I thought, B e t t e r i f I don't answer, and looked f i x e d l y a t Ada.  136  "Who t a l k e d ? " C a r l o went on.  "We t h r e e were t h e only-  ones who knew these t h i n g s . " A f t e r a few minutes o f p a i n f u l s i l e n c e , I s a i d , " I t could be Rino." "Rino d i d n ' t know those t h i n g s , " Ada s a i d . "Then i t must be you," I s a i d . "Would you care t o repeat "Ada,  that?"  I agree w i t h your husband," C a r l o s a i d .  "You  know, maybe t a l k i n g t o some g i r l f r i e n d , maybe i t j u s t s l i p p e d out...." Ada  b u r s t i n t o nervous t e a r s .  "Sorry,"  C a r l o went on, "but I can't b e l i e v e Antonio  could be so t h o u g h t l e s s  t o go around t a l k i n g about our  affairs." Ada  c r i e d harder; j u s t l i k e a l i t t l e g i r l accused o f  doing something she can't prove she's innocent o f . "A woman I can see,"  C a r l o went on h a r s h l y .  "Women,  you know; women a r e weak-natured, but a man...." I suspected  t h a t C a r l o suspected  h i s b i t t e r n e s s t h i s way. He'd  probably  me and was v e n t i n g  He'd p r o b a b l y  planned i t a l l .  planned p u t t i n g t h e blame on Ada t o o .  "What do we do?" I asked, l o s t i n thought. "What t h e h e l l can we do?" C a r l o muttered.  "We'll  j u s t have t o t u r n t h e t h i n g over t o t h a t lawyer Racalmuto and hope f o r t h e b e s t ! " "Can  we g e t out o f i t ? "  137  C a r l o d i d n ' t answer. still  He looked  a t h i s s i s t e r , who  was  crying. " I wasn't the one who  t a l k e d ; I keep my mouth c l o s e d ;  I don't t a l k ; I don't go around t e l l i n g my mean r e a l l y , do you t h i n k I'm  business.  I  an i d i o t o r something?  Only  somebody touched i n the head would go around b l a b b i n g business  here.  Me,  o f a l l people...."  So then I s t a r e d C a r l o r i g h t i n the f a c e w i t h b l a z i n g eyes.  his  "What i f you're the one who  two  talked?"  "Me?" "Yes,  you.  You who  t a l k so much!"  C a r l o got up, waving h i s f i s t s at me. help from  I got unexpected  Ada.  " I t c o u l d be!  You've got t h i s t h i n g about being  the  boss!" I t took Rino's a r r i v a l to c o o l t h a t red-hot atmosphere. His presence was  l i k e a bucket o f water on the  " L e t ' s t a l k about something e l s e , " Ada her  fire.  said, drying  eyes. "Appointment at Racalmuto's o f f i c e at f o u r , " C a r l o h i s s e d .  X.  I'm  waiting t i l l  and C a r l o .  The  f o u r t o go t o Racalmuto's w i t h  Ada  t h r e e o f us have been s i t t i n g here i n s i l e n c e  138  f o r an hour. All  Not one o f us has s a i d a word i n an hour.  t h r e e o f us s t a r e a t the f l o o r and s i t here w a i t i n g  tensely. I t ' d be more a c c u r a t e t o say I'm  w a i t i n g , s i n c e the  s i s t e r suspects f i r s t her b r o t h e r and then me; suspects f i r s t me  and then h i s s i s t e r .  mistrust i n t h e i r  eyes.  And I'm than t h e i r s . tape.  I'm  and C a r l o  I can see the  w a i t i n g t o o , and my wait i s maybe more awful I'm  a f r a i d the lawyer's g o t t e n a h o l d o f the  a f r a i d t h e y know.  I f e e l l i k e a c o n v i c t w a i t i n g f o r the sentence. could be Racalmuto doesn't have the t a p e . has i t and i s n ' t s a y i n g a n y t h i n g .  It  I t c o u l d be  My head's about t o  he explode  from a l l t h i s c o n j e c t u r i n g ; I want t o go out, go over t o Racalmuto's. at me.  But I'm  a f r a i d a l l s u s p i c i o n s are d i r e c t e d  And b e s i d e s I'm  taking pleasure i n t h i s  torture.  I s i t here m o t i o n l e s s w h i l e the c l o c k marches on; marches on slow but r u t h l e s s , and i t s t i c k i n g f i l l s room as i f i t was  e x p r e s s i n g a l l the anguish o f a l l t h r e e  of us put t o g e t h e r . I'm  the  T i c k t o c k , t i c k t o c k , i t keeps g o i n g .  s o r r y Rino l e f t .  He went t o work, and he's  got  t o do h i s mother's and h i s u n c l e ' s and h i s f a t h e r ' s share. And I t h i n k , Poor Rino, but I f e e l f a l s e r i g h t now; l i k e my  sympathy i s f a l s e .  The t h r e e o f us are  I feel  still  s i t t i n g here; and not one o f us has s a i d a word y e t ; not one o f us moves; we're m o t i o n l e s s ; we l o o k at each o t h e r  139  s i l e n t l y out o f the corner o f our eyes, and I t h i n k about how  i f somebody was  laughing:  t o see us r i g h t now,  he'd  husband, w i f e and b r o t h e r - i n - l a w  r i g i d and  b u r s t out  motionless,  silent.  Time goes on; the minute-hand goes around s l o w l y but r u t h l e s s l y ; we wait f o r f o u r o ' c l o c k . for  At f o u r Ada  hopes  an a c t o f j u s t i c e t h a t w i l l d i s p e l the shadow o f  s u s p i c i o n t h a t ' s t h i c k e n e d around h e r . And  C a r l o ; what's C a r l o w a i t i n g f o r ?  Maybe he's he's keeping  convinced I was  quiet.  There, Ada  I'm  convinced he's  I t h i n k about how  I'm  t h a t woman i s my w i f e , how  We're s t i l l  t a l k e d , but  convinced i t was  me.  j u s t l o o k e d me up and down, j u s t an i n s t a n t ,  but I caught i t a l l r i g h t .  t h i n k about how  the one who  Now  Ada's got h e r head bowed.  r i g h t here and a l i v e , about I've  seen h e r naked, yes, and I  h e r b r o t h e r knows I've  s i t t i n g here.  how  seen h e r naked.  And her b r o t h e r ' s s t a r i n g a t the  f l o o r and i t l o o k s l i k e h i s l i p s are moving. That's i t , he's p a n t i n g . and we're s t i l l  s i t t i n g here.  I'm  p a n t i n g t o o ; Ada i s too;  I f e e l l i k e breaking  s i l e n c e but I don't have the courage to break the Obviously i f I s t a r t e d y e l l i n g  'Ancestral* right  the  silence. now,  e v e r y t h i n g would change.  The two  o f them would jump.  C a r l o would jump; the way  the woodcutter jumped when I threw  t h a t stone i n t o t h a t p o o l o f water. l i k e that.  Even  C a r l o would jump j u s t  140  I should shout  ' A n c e s t r a l * , but I don't.  my w i f e and t h i n k about how  I d e s i r e her r i g h t now.  weather's gray o u t s i d e ; s m e l l s l i k e r a i n . t h i s I always d e s i r e my w i f e . to see her naked r i g h t Who  The  When i t ' s l i k e  I want her body; I'd l i k e  now.  knows what she's t h i n k i n g , I t h i n k .  the time.  I look at  I look at  Only a few minutes have gone by; the hand i s  between the t h r e e and the f o u r , and  c l o s e r to the t h r e e  than i t i s to the f o u r , and we're s i t t i n g here w a i t i n g . And none o f us says a n y t h i n g . l i k e our heads are e x p l o d i n g .  And  a l l t h r e e o f us f e e l  Even the b r o t h e r and  who've got t h e i r heads i n t h e i r hands  sister,  now.  " A l l t h a t work f o r n o t h i n g . . . . " C a r l o  mutters.  Ada t i g h t e n s her l i p s ; her eyes g l i t t e r w i t h vengeance. She l o o k s a t me. mutters.  "So t h i s morning I found you i n . . . . "  I motion to her t o be q u i e t ; I'm  t e l l i n g her brother.  She  megaphone o f her hand. a Bronx  ashamed o f her  smiles i r o n i c a l l y .  "For you,"  she  She makes a  she murmurs,  mimicking  cheer.  And I t h i n k , I'm  here, I'm  a l i v e , I'm  awake.  And  I  don't know whether I f e e l l i k e a c o n v i c t w a i t i n g f o r the sentence,  o r a c h i l d w a i t i n g t o be punished.  about how  I'm  almost  fifty.  We're s t i l l w a i t i n g . r i g h t now,  And I t h i n k  Obviously i f I y e l l e d 'Ancestral'  t h i n g s would change f o r me.  could be a s t r a t e g i c move.  Yelling 'Ancestral'  141  What k i n d o f a f a c e would Ada make when she heard me y e l l t h e word?  How would C a r l o r e a c t ?  ' A n c e s t r a l ' , t h a t rhymes w i t h  And me?  'conventual'.  I ' d repeat  I ' d repeat i t .  I t ' s a s t r a t e g i c move; I t h i n k i t over again and i t sounds t o me l i k e an e x c e l l e n t move. who y e l l s d i s j o i n t e d t h i n g s ?  How can you t r u s t somebody And I f e e l s t r a n g e l y s a t i s f i e d ;  I've found t h e l o g i c a l connection between my p o s i t i o n and the word ' A n c e s t r a l ' .  That word i s my  defense.  But I can't f i n d t h e connection between paper bags and g r a n i t e and t h e r a i l r o a d and Eva's hut!  Why don't I  shout * A n c e s t r a l ! ' ? T h e y ' l l t h i n k I'm c r a z y , so then even i f Racalmuto has them l i s t e n t o t h e r e c o r d i n g o f what I s a i d , they c e r t a i n l y can't l o o k down on me. somebody who's c r a z y . body who's c r a z y . them c r a z y too!  You can't l o o k down on  They're a f r a i d t o look down on some-  They're a f r a i d Almighty God w i l l make And I ' d get out o f c u t t i n g a poor f i g u r e  over having t o l d my a f f a i r s t o everybody. I f e e l l i k e y e l l i n g and I don't y e l l ; I j u s t s i t here; I can f e e l t h a t I'm a l i v e , t h a t I'm b r e a t h i n g ; I can f e e l my head r e v e r b e r a t e as i f thoughts were t h i n g s t h a t move around and bump i n t o each o t h e r l i k e t h i n g s .  And I'm  still  s i t t i n g here and I t h i n k about how I'm me, about how t h a t woman w i t h c l o t h e s on over t h e r e o p p o s i t e me i s my w i f e and how I've seen h e r naked.  About how she's been w i t h me f o r  scads o f y e a r s , t h a t woman.  I t h i n k , I f I hadn't  married  142  her, i f I saw  her now  f o r the f i r s t  I t h i n k I wouldn't marry h e r . know women who  my  I don't know why.  Maybe i t would be her who  brother-in-law's  how  Not  Maybe I would even marry  wouldn't want me.  debating  sitting  he has  at  toes, her  embarrassed.  whether t o y e l l the word  Or e l s e the word * conventual *. s i l e n t t h i n k i n g , I'm  I look  I remember once I wanted to ask  what h i s toes were l i k e but I was still  I  I wouldn't marry  shoes and t h i n k about how  Ada's seen them.  I'm  t h a t she's u g l y .  are a l o t worse at her age;  her because.... her.  time, would I marry h e r ?  But I s i t here  a l i v e r i g h t now.  And  'Ancestral*.  motionless,  we're s t i l l  here.  Now  I'm  going t o y e l l  'Ancestral!'  I don't have the courage t o y e l l the time go by.  'Ancestral'.  I let  I t h i n k t h a t whatever w i l l be w i l l be.  I  s t a r t t h i n k i n g about V a r a l d i . Now  I'm  going t o y e l l  'Ancestral!' f o r sure.  I d i d n ' t y e l l i t . I s t a r e at the hand o f the  clock  t h a t ' s g e t t i n g c l o s e r t o the f o u r and the o t h e r one g e t t i n g c l o s e r t o the t w e l v e .  And  about t o be f o u r , and I t h i n k how the sentence.  I t h i n k , I'm I'm  But then I shake my  p u p i l w a i t i n g t o be  Ada  and  here and i t ' s  a convict waiting  head and t h i n k how  for  I'm  a  punished.  The hands are g e t t i n g c l o s e r . now.  that's  I t ' s a matter o f minutes  C a r l o can t e l l i t ' s a matter of minutes t o o .  They're g e t t i n g ready t o get  up.  143  I s t i f l e the y e l l • A n c e s t r a l ! * i n my t h r o a t . There, they've both gotten up. They're g e t t i n g ready to go.  I've gotten up too and  a l l three of us are l o o k i n g at each other.  Each of us looks  sure of h i m s e l f . I look sure of myself too. I clamp my mouth shut so I won't y e l l ' A n c e s t r a l * .  V T  We're i n Racalmuto's law o f f i c e .  The lawyer's behind  h i s desk; he's l o o k i n g at a voluminous bundle of pages f u l l of f i n e f i n e p r i n t and shouting, "But....  But C h r i s t  descended from the cross!  But the cross i s  empty!"  But...  But...  Then he s t a r e s at us w i t h a possessed look and says,  "You must leave here w i t h d i v i n e sparks!"  And he echoes  h i m s e l f , "With d i v i n e sparks!" He gets up.  "This i s a book t h a t was d i c t a t e d to me  the Chinese philosopher Lao Tze! is?  by  Do you know who Loa Tze  ...You don't know who Lao Tze i s !  j u s t shoemakers!" he says, s t a r i n g at  Obviously!  You're  me.  He must have seen t h a t I'm f u l l of t a r . "You're good people!" he goes on, s t i l l l o o k i n g at me. across h i s f a c e .  He rubs a hand  "My philosopher f r i e n d i s r i g h t !  needs a u n i v e r s a l language!  Mankind  I n other words, a language  144  understood by  everybody!"  He pounds a f i s t  on the desk.  abolish barriers; i t ' s declarations. I  not enough t o a b o l i s h customs  What we need i s one  I'm  me.  "Words can't do i t ! c o n v e n t i o n a l t h i n g s we a l l languages.  numbers!  my  hoping h e ' l l go on; time's going by and  that's f i n e with  We have t o a b o l i s h words.  c a l l words!  Yes!  Those  A b o l i s h them!  We have t o understand each o t h e r w i t h  Numbers w i l l r e p l a c e words.  t h i s pen a pen we  I f , instead of c a l l i n g  c a l l e d i t , f o r example, t h i r t e e n !  knows t h a t t h i r t e e n means pen. That f i f t y means c l o c k . the  language!"  f e e l f i n e and I s i t here l i s t e n i n g t o him w i t h  mouth open.  Kill  " I t ' s not enough t o  Everybody  That e i g h t e e n means p i c t u r e .  That would be the u n i v e r s a l  language  p h i l o s o p h e r Lao Tze wants t o see! "Sir,  we agree w i t h you," C a r l o s a i d , "but we  came  about t h a t matter; you know...." Racalmuto was  a thousand m i l e s away from t h a t matter.  He s a t t h e r e l o s t i n thought f o r a couple o f minutes, at  the pages and m u t t e r i n g , "Yes!  staring  We need number language!  Mankind never understood each o t h e r w i t h words; numbers can b r i n g about the m i r a c l e o f u n i v e r s a l communion! equals twenty-one. fifteen...." disconsolate. at  me a g a i n .  Rice equals twenty-two.  Spaghetti  Rose equals  He s t a r e s a t us a second and h i s f a c e l o o k s "You're good people!" he r e p e a t s , and s t a r e s  145  Then he s t a r e s at  Ada.  Then he s t a r e s a t  Carlo.  "There's not much we  can do about t h a t matter.  One  you t h r e e b l u r t e d out a l l your a f f a i r s i n the Piazza'^"  of he  said. Automatically t o g e t h e r we  I s t a r e d at C a r l o , who  s t a r e d at Ada.  i t s being the  a tape.  o f you t a l k e d r i g h t h e r e .  "I've  I can  got  exclude  lady."  Ada l e t out a s i g h as i f she'd had her  and  The lawyer went over t o a book-  s h e l f and took down a tape r e c o r d e r and the proof t h a t one  s t a r e d at me  a brick l i f t e d  off  stomach. "One  o f you two  t a l k e d , " Racalmuto went on.  "Whose  voice i s t h i s ? " My hot.  body broke out i n a c o l d sweat but my  Calmly Racalmuto s e t up the tape r e c o r d e r ;  a click.  The  room was  mine i t scared  then:  earn i t , uh,  But how  can you  s a i d you haven't got a f a c t o r y , you  got a f i r m  got people working f o r me  I've  I looked  wife's  to  somewhat underhanded...  t h a t much i f you  My  tac,  me.  you want to t h i n k so go ahead, i f not  shoemakers who  felt  f i l l e d w i t h a v o i c e so i d e n t i c a l  "Then t h a t means you If  blood  peg my  shoes...."  and my  brother-in-law's  f o r a way  haven't  a l l over f o u r  eyes were f i x e d on  out i n Racalmuto, but he was  t h i n k i n g about a u n i v e r s a l language.  earn  sitting  I s t a r e d a t those  me.  there two  146  r e e l s t u r n i n g s l o w l y , r u t h l e s s l y ? t h e tape running on r u t h l e s s l y and ray v o i c e , ray v o i c e a g a i n , v i b r a t i n g m e t a l l i c a l l y i n the a i r , " E i g h t hundred l i r e a p a i r l i r e a p a i r , I swear t o God  Oh, come on  E i g h t hundred  Depends how many you make a day  and how many you s e l l , though  F o r t y dozen a day and s e l l  every one o f them...." The tape went on running, s l o w l y , i m p l a c a b l e .  Four eyes  s t a r i n g a t me.  XII.  I'm l e a r n i n g t o take s o l i t u d e .  It's a painful  solitude,  s i n c e I l i v e w i t h a woman and a boy; and t h e y ' r e t h e ones who make me f e e l  alone.  I'm n o t allowed i n t h e work-shop any more. pected, t h e work I d i d was h a r d l y n e c e s s a r y .  L i k e I sus-  Ada and h e r  b r o t h e r take care o f g e t t i n g i t done i n t h e i r spare time. P a i n f u l s o l i t u d e , I was s a y i n g b e f o r e . really solitude.  But maybe i t ' s not  I t ' s t h e knowledge o f b e i n g u s e l e s s ;  r e a l i z i n g t h e work you d i d t i l l  now was u s e l e s s .  That's  what i t i s , not t h e s o l i t u d e . E v e r y day Ada g i v e s me a s m a l l amount f o r my p e r s o n a l expenses.  I spend t h e day s t a n d i n g by t h e window watching  i n the s t r e e t s .  life  Watching t h e people moving, running, making  d e a l s , and here I am watching I'm excluded from t h a t game.  s t i f f l y and t h i n k i n g about how  147  I'm i n t h e same mood as when I was a k i d and i ' d be excluded from t h e games t h e o t h e r k i d s were caught up i n and I ' d stand t h e r e watching them p l a y .  That's what t h e people  l o o k l i k e t o me from up here a t t h e window; l i k e o l d k i d s playing. I t h i n k about h a v i n g t i g h t e n e d my b e l t f o r almost twenty years j u s t t o end up s t a n d i n g i n e r t l y by a window, end up h a v i n g Ada hand me so much every day. I stand here watching t h e s t r e e t . of the  I know t h a t a t about t h r e e t h e shadow  t h e b u i l d i n g s s t a r t s l e n g t h e n i n g t o almost t h e middle o f s t r e e t ; t h a t a f t e r t h r e e i t passes t h e middle and s l i p s  on, darkening t h e whole s t r e e t and c l i m b i n g up on t h e buildings opposite. I t h i n k t h a t even i f I'm u s e l e s s r i g h t now, a t l e a s t my l i f e hasn't been u s e l e s s .  Ada and C a r l o a r e working  thanks t o my severance pay. And I spend hours p r o v i n g t o myself t h a t my l i f e hasn't been u s e l e s s ; and I almost convince m y s e l f .  I know t h a t every hour and every h a l f -  hour t h e b i g b e l l i n t h e tower r i n g s ; i t r i n g s t h e time t h a t goes by i n hours and h a l f - h o u r s ; and I'm s t i l l s t a n d i n g here a t t h e window watching, maybe s t a r i n g a t an o l d woman and t r y i n g t o imagine h e r your, t r y i n g t o imagine h e r as a girl.  Who knows what k i n d o f a l i f e she's had?, I t h i n k .  148  I t h i n k God Almighty d i v i d e d mankind i n t o two c a t e g o r i e s ; u s e f u l mankind and u s e l e s s mankind. me so I r e p l a c e i t w i t h another one, Vigevano*s  But t h a t thought bothers I t h i n k about how  churches take on a r o s y c o l o r a t dusk,  t h a t ' s another u s e l e s s thought, and my mind s t a r t s  I realize wandering,  I t h i n k about how I'm not s t a n d i n g here i n e r t l y by t h e window s t a r i n g a t t h e shadow w h i l e i t climbs up t h e b u i l d i n g s , but how I'm Antonio Mombelli, i . e . Fausto Coppi's most dreaded rival.  B e t t e r y e t ; Coppi i s my most dreaded r i v a l .  c y c l i s t , Super Champion; I'm t h e human r o c k e t . the  I take o f f on  f i r s t l e g o f t h e Tour and win i t over Coppi by t h r e e  hours; I win t h e second one by s i x . In  I'm a  I win t h e whole t h i n g .  t h e mountains I go u p h i l l s i t t i n g on t h e s e a t , p e d a l i n g  e l e g a n t l y ; on t h e d o w n h i l l I go down so f a s t I don't have t o pedal on t h e next u p h i l l .  I've s t a r t e d out twenty-four hours  behind Coppi and B a r t a l i , and I s t i l l keep on w i n n i n g . They don't want me r a c i n g any more.  The b i k e manu-  f a c t u r e r s have d e c l a r e d r e l e n t l e s s war on me, but I keep on racing.  Milano - Sanremo.  I take o f f a t t h e s t a r t i n g - g u n  and f l y ; my l e g s a r e going l i k e p i s t o n s . i s f o l l o w i n g behind me.  I get a race going w i t h t h e c a r :  a hundred, hundred-twenty, pass i t .  My sponsor's c a r  hundred, hundred-twenty,  till  I  I blow a t i r e about f i f t y times and g e t t o Sanremo  t h r e e hours ahead o f my r i v a l s who, t h e y t e l l me, a r e s t i l l on t h e o u t s k i r t s o f M i l a n o .  149  I  t u r n a r o u n d and  Bartali  and  friends  h a v e t h e m g i v e me the  cyclists.  win  first I  opposite; pouring stars all  I hear the  shining.  the l i t t l e  since  five. I  starting-gun again  the  o f f again  by  up  at  I  darkness  full  In Milano I  c a t c h up  I to  f o r Sanremo,  and  the b u i l d i n g s The  workers  f a l l i n g ; the  of workers going  t h i n k , I've  first  home  been s t a n d i n g  to here  eleven.  big bell  i n the  through  another  gotten  and  - with a four hour l e a d .  streets;  towns, and  I got  and  f a c t o r y w h i s t l e s blow.  B u s e s go  hear the  I've  the  shadow t h a t ' s c l i m b e d up  into  I meet C o p p i  p e d a l i n g towards Sanremo.  s e c o n d t h a t way  the  out  back t o M i l a n o .  From t h e r e I take  and  see  go  tower s t r i k e  the  time.  day.  XIII.  I  keep  afternoon  sleeping.  and  get  me  Long naps t h a t f i l l  to  evening.  I k i l l  up  the  time.  A f t e r I'd k i l l e d the whole afternoon today to  the i r r i g a t i o n T h e r e was  not  there I  After  too, I  went  The  hut's  bridge.  a disappointment  anymore.  thought  whole  hard  i n s t o r e f o r me.  Disappeared. of Eva,  dinner I took  o f where she  a l i t t l e  walk  could  and  be.  then went t o  bed.  150  I've f i g u r e d out I s l e e p more than s i x t e e n hours a day. I f e e l ashamed i n f r o n t o f R i n o . "I'm  o l d , " I mutter.  "I'm  During the hours when I'm  run down," I t e l l  myself.  not s l e e p i n g ; i . e . when  I'm  l i v i n g , I have the f e e l i n g o f not b e i n g completely i n c o n t r o l of  my b r a i n .  I spend too many hours t h i n k i n g about b e i n g t h e  champion, a b i g g e r champion than Coppi and B a r t a l i ,  about  c h a l l e n g i n g a l l the champions i n the world, about b e a t i n g every one o f them.  And f o r hours and hours I imagine  being  a runner. The days keep on going by and I t h i n k the best t h i n g would be t o occupy my mind w i t h something unpleasant.  Complex so i t ' l l  complex and  occupy my mind completely;  and unpleasant t o make the t h i n g i n t e r e s t i n g . They've announced the annual c e r t i f i c a t i o n exams. Why  not take them?  Of course a t my  age t a k i n g an exam i s p a i n f u l , but I  can't spend my whole l i f e  s t a n d i n g by a window l o o k i n g a t  t h e shadow s l i p s l o w l y a c r o s s the s t r e e t and climb up buildings opposite.  And f e e l i n g t h e days go by,  and  t h i n k i n g about b e i n g world c y c l i n g champion. So I've d e c i d e d t o s t a r t s t u d y i n g for. the exam.  the  151  XIV.  I'm t a k i n g two courses.  One course t o g e t h a l f a p o i n t  towards renewal o f c e r t i f i c a t i o n . Course.  I t ' s c a l l e d the A f r i c a  I t ' s h e l d a t t h e teachers*  c o l l e g e and they t e a c h  you what you*re supposed t o do i f you g e t b i t t e n by a t s e t s e f l y o r by some k i n d o f snake.  And how you cure  children with t r o p i c a l diseases. It's It's  a p r e p a r a t o r y course f o r t h e c e r t i f i c a t i o n exams.  a l l young women t e a c h e r s and a few r o m a n t i c - f a c e d  young men t a k i n g t h e course. in  N a n i n i and I a r e t h e o l d i e s  there. A woman pedagogy p r o f e s s o r g i v e s t h e l e s s o n s .  "My dear  t e a c h e r s , t e l l y o u r s e l v e s t h a t t h e young c h i l d i s n o t a vase t o be f i l l e d . . . . " "....but  t h e p r o f e s s o r began.  a vase t o be emptied!" N a n i n i guffawed.  The p r o f e s s o r g o t angry, she s a i d .  "....but  a h e a r t h t o be l i t , "  " I am not s u r p r i s e d , N a n i n i , t h a t you a r e s t i l l a  s u b s t i t u t e when everyone e l s e your age i s a t t h e l a s t p o i n t t o t a l ! " she snapped. N a n i n i l o o k e d h e r up and down.  She was an o l d s p i n s t e r .  They s t a r e d a t each o t h e r f o r a minute w i t h f a n a t i c  eyes,  then, s t a r i n g a t h e r body, N a n i n i s a i d , "That which nature c r e a t e s , man p r e s e r v e s ! " "I wish t o remind you t h a t you're speaking t o a Group A!" she shouted.  "And t h a t I entered Group A a t twenty; do you  152  understand?" Then she went on e x p l a i n i n g . i r o n , " she s a i d .  "A f o u r t h - g r a d e l e s s o n on  "How would you e x p l a i n i r o n ? " she asked a  young woman. "I'd "Oh!"  see what t h e textbook t h e p r o f e s s o r shouted  The bookish again!  says," the woman answered. disgustedly.  "The book!  To teach a l e s s o n on i r o n we s t a r t by  t a k i n g t h e c l a s s t o a miner's house!" "Impossible," N a n i n i shouted.  "There a r e n ' t any miners  i n Vigevano!" The p r o f e s s o r c o l l e c t e d h e r s e l f a f t e r being" a t a l o s s for  a second.  " W e l l , when you take your f i e l d t r i p s ,  p l a c e s where t h e r e are  choose  miners!"  A woman t e a c h e r who must have had more years than p o i n t s and was t h e r e t o keep up t o date on h e r c u l t u r e stood up and s a i d , " I t ' s n o t t r u e t h e r e a r e no miners i n Vigevano. was  one.  And I went t h e r e w i t h my c l a s s .  There  I f you knew what  came out o f t h a t ungodly mouth...." " I n f r o n t o f t h e c h i l d r e n ? " t h e p r o f e s s o r asked, scandalized. "No,  i n back o f them!" N a n i n i  laughed.  The p r o f e s s o r g r i t t e d h e r t e e t h and went on e x p l a i n i n g , "The  t e a c h e r w i l l humbly l e t the miner take h i s p l a c e and  e x p l a i n what a mine i s l i k e , what t h e i r work i s l i k e , how they l i v e . . . .  Then we s h a l l put a p i e c e o f i r o n i n each  p u p i l ' s hand and t e l l them, t h i s i r o n comes from t h e mine.  153  And  r i g h t t h e r e you have a n i c e l e s s o n w i t h i r o n as t h e main  topic.  You w i l l then d i s p l a y o t h e r m i n e r a l s  and p o i n t out  the d i f f e r e n c e between i r o n and some o t h e r m i n e r a l ,  such  as...." " S a l t , " Nanini The  shouted.  p r o f e s s o r shook h e r i n d e x f i n g e r a t him.  "Substitute!  S u b s t i t u t e ! " she chanted t h e way k i d s  go, "Nya, nya! Nya, nya!" "We w i l l have them f i n d words which come from t h e L a t i n r o o t o f i r o n , ferrum, such as f e r r i t e , f e r r o u s ,  ferroconcrete,  f e r r o t y p e - and t h e r e you have t h e grammar l e s s o n .  Then we  w i l l e x p l a i n t h a t t h e most common l a s t name i n I t a l y i s F e r r a r i - and t h e r e you have a h i s t o r y l e s s o n . F e r r a r i t h e most common l a s t name i n I t a l y ?  And why i s  W e l l , because  l a s t names a r e nicknames handed down through time, which o r i g i n a t e d d u r i n g t h e M i d d l e Ages when t h e r e were v a r i o u s workers' g u i l d s , and s i n c e i r o n was worked everywhere, your e x p l a n a t i o n  f o r so many F e r r a r i s .  there's  And t h e r e you have  your l e s s o n on t h e M i d d l e Ages." ! ' i ; ' l l have t h e F e r r a r i o r c h e s t r a come p l a y ! " smirked.  Nanini  "There you have your l e s s o n on music t o o ! "  started w h i s t l i n g the F e r r a r i orchestra's Incredible turmoil...  He  theme song.  Whistling i n a teachers'  college  classroom - God f o r b i d ! . . . . "Here i s a geography l e s s o n on i r o n .  We w i l l  arrange  f o r a k i n d o f stage i n t h e classroom and have t h e c h i l d r e n  154  act  out scenes such as t h i s .  the  d i a l o g u e f o r the scenes."  The t e a c h e r w i l l have prepared  The p r o f e s s o r motioned and two l i t t l e g i r l s appeared. "Here i s an example o f A c t i v e S c h o o l . " started  The l i t t l e g i r l s  reciting.  First girl:  How  Second g i r l :  are you, Mrs.  Ferri?  V e r y w e l l , Mrs. F e r r a r i , and you?  The p r o f e s s o r i n t e r r u p t e d .  "As you can see, our main  t o p i c touches upon good manners as w e l l . . . "  The l i t t l e g i r l s  started r e c i t i n g again. First girl:  I haven't seen your husband  f o r quite a  while. Second g i r l :  My husband's i n Belgium, which i s bordered  on the n o r t h by...on the south by...on the east by...on the west by..., and s p e c i f i c a l l y i n the c a p i t a l B r u s s e l s , a c i t y with three m i l l i o n "In  inhabitants...  Belgium?"  "He's  a miner.  And he wrote me t h i s l e t t e r . "  At t h i s p o i n t the l i t t l e g i r l  reads a f i f t e e n - p a g e  l e t t e r on mines, the mining i n d u s t r y and s t a t i s t i c s about c o a l e x p o r t a t i o n and  consumption...  "I never knew t h e r e was "You  a country c a l l e d  Belgium."  didn't?"  The l i t t l e g i r l  t a k e s the o t h e r g i r l ' s hand, shows  her where i t i s on the w a l l map  and e x p l a i n s , "Belgium has  twelve m i l l i o n i n h a b i t a n t s , i t ' s a monarchy; i . e . the one  155  who r u l e s i n Belgium i s t h e k i n g ; and i t owns t h e B e l g i a n Congo i n A f r i c a , which i s c a l l e d B e l g i a n because i t belongs to Belgium...." "And  here you could f i t i n a f i n e l e s s o n on t h e B e l g i a n  Congo," t h e p r o f e s s o r s a i d . When t h e scene was over, a u n i v e r s i t y p r o f e s s o r spoke on Manzoni.  Or r a t h e r , on t h e gems o f Manzoni.  Betrothed, i n t h e f i f t h house.  I n The  chapter, he d e s c r i b e s don Rodrigo's  When F a t h e r C r i s t o f o r o a r r i v e s f o r t h e famous con-  v e r s a t i o n , Manzoni uses t h e e x p r e s s i o n " s m a l l but elegant palace."  Don Rodrigo's  " s m a l l but elegant p a l a c e . "  When  B r o t h e r C r i s t o f o r o l e a v e s , chapter s i x , he t u r n s h i s back not upon t h e " s m a l l but elegant p a l a c e " , no!  But upon t h e  " w i l d beast's den"! He t a l k e d f o r two hours about t h e d i f f e r e n c e between small but elegant p a l a c e and w i l d beast's den. "And  j u s t t h i n k , " t h e p r o f e s s o r s a i d , " t h a t i n the  f i r s t and second e d i t i o n s o f The Betrothed;  i . e . Fermo and  L u c i a and B e t r o t h e d, Manzoni had again used s m a l l but elegant palace r a t h e r than w i l d beast's den!" "The  L o r d e n l i g h t e n e d him!"  a woman t e a c h e r a t p o i n t  t o t a l 271 murmured. Then a pedagogist o f t h e language.  spoke i n f a v o r o f t h e p u r i f i c a t i o n  "Who wants t o j o i n t h e a s s o c i a t i o n which  proposes t o p u r i f y the I t a l i a n language?" he asked.  "Asso-  c i a t i o n members w i l l f i g h t w i t h i n t h e s c h o o l a l l G a l l i c i s m s ,  156  barbarisms, A n g l i c i s m s t h a t are c o r r u p t i n g the most  beautiful  language i n the world!"  XV.  I'm s t i l l  going t o those l e s s o n s .  I'm l i k e a f i s h out  o f water i n the middle o f a l l t h i s youth j u s t out o f h i g h school.  L u c k i l y t h e r e ' s N a n i n i who's a few years o l d e r  than me,  so I take comfort i n t h a t .  comfort  seeing  J u s t l i k e he takes  me.  XVI.  "At my age I have t o t a c k l e another exam!" N a n i n i s i g h s . laugh.  certification  And he l a u g h s ; a mellow, e n j o y a b l e  "I'm a g r a n d f a t h e r and I'm t a c k l i n g another exam!"  We keep on going t o the p r e p a r a t o r y l e s s o n s . pedagogy p r o f e s s o r ' s c o r r e c t e d a theme o f mine. i n h e r hand.  I can t e l l  The  She has i t  everybody's l o o k i n g at t h a t theme  paper; I can see i t ' s marked up here and t h e r e . innovate the s c h o o l , " I hear h e r say.  "Let's  " L e t ' s not c a l l  themes any l o n g e r ; l e t ' s c a l l them compositions."  them  The  p r o f e s s o r goes i n t o a s y s t e m a t i c d i s c u s s i o n o f the d i f f e r e n c e between the theme and the composition.  157  "Composition  i s a more harmonious word!  composing s p i r i t b e t t e r . componere:  I t f i t s the  Composing, from the L a t i n  t h e r e f o r e , i t i s more p r e c i s e , more I t a l i a n t o  c a l l them compositions." She  c a l l s on me  and hands me my  Mombelli, l e a r n your grammar....  composition.  "Mr.  I n I t a l i a n one does not  say 'have they got', but 'do t h e y have*! I f e e l everybody's  eyes on me.  "Everyone  uses  'have  they got' i n s t e a d o f 'do t h e y have' nowadays," I murmur. The p r o f e s s o r g i v e s an understanding s m i l e .  "That i s  a l i b e r t y which poets, w r i t e r s , j o u r n a l i s t s , and Group A's may  take.  But you, Mr. Mombelli, p l e a s e use  *do  they  have *..." T h i s morning I took the c e r t i f i c a t i o n exam. to  You  had  draw l o t s f o r a s u b j e c t and then g i v e a l e s s o n on i t , o r  e l s e h o l d a c o n v e r s a t i o n / c o n f e r e n c e on a t o p i c you'd drawn lots for. A f t e r I'd c o n s i d e r e d i t f o r a minute, I d e c i d e d t o choose the c o n v e r s a t i o n / c o n f e r e n c e . I drew a s l i p o f paper out o f the box. "The  a r t of e f f e c t i v e  The t o p i c  was  speaking."  They put me i n a classroom w i t h some o t h e r t e a c h e r s . had bookshelves hours• I  f u l l o f books at my  disposal.  And  three  time. spent the t h r e e hours c o n s u l t i n g t e x t s and books and  prepared the f o l l o w i n g conference which I gave b e f o r e the  I  158  certification  committee:  XVII.  "Oh pure and gracious-sounding tongue!" Thus speaks A l f i e r i o f our language, f o r sweetness o f sounds and o f s y l l a b l e s renders the mother tongue yet more melodious. Spoken w e l l , the language sounds i n our ears as a f a i r melody, a b e a u t i f u l harmony. Sadly, however, save i n Tuscany, the mother tongue i s not spoken w e l l . As De Ami.cis says so s a g a c i o u s l y , i t i s none o t h e r than music b a d l y p l a y e d . I n o r d e r t o speak the language w e l l , one must study i t devotedly, f o l l o w i n g the example o f the l e a r n e d persons o f Tuscany, e s p e c i a l l y o f F i r e n z e , and f u r t h e r t a k i n g i n t o account the Roman p r o n u n c i a t i o n o f the e f f e c t i v e speaker. The s a y i n g i s c o r r e c t : Tuscan words on Roman l i p s . But one must be c a r e f u l not t o ape e i t h e r the Tuscans o r the Romans. Heaven f o r b i d ! One would l a p s e i n t o the a f f e c t e d and r i d i c u l o u s . Our language, t h e n , . i s f a i r p o e t r y and e x q u i s i t e music on the l i p s o f c o r r e c t speakers; and we, i f we wish t o g l o r y i n being I t a l i a n w i t h a c a p i t a l J_, must l e a r n w e l l the a r t . o f t h i s p o e t r y , t h i s music, i n o r d e r t h a t our words may be w e l l - r e c e i v e d by those who l i s t e n t o us; f o r the beauty o f d i s c o u r s e o c c a s i o n s i n f i n i t e good t o mankind. D i s c o u r s e a l l u r e s , moves, cheers, c o n s o l e s . I t i s the most powerful and e f f i c i e n t means t o educate our s o u l w i t h i t s emotions and i t s a f f e c t i o n s . With i t s l i k i n g s and benevolences, which are i n e s t i m a b l e f o r c e s most capable o f p e n e t r a t i n g , by means o f an immediate i n t u i t i o n , o c c u l t and h e a l i n g t r u t h s , f o r the t r u e education o f the h e a r t , which i s the source o f a l l good and the cure f o r a l l i l l s . Ooooooh! The education o f the h e a r t i s e v e r y t h i n g i n life! Oooooh! I t alone renews the w o r l d . Remakes human n a t u r e . Gives us once more d i v i n e beauty and renders us t r u l y happy. Yes! Yes! On the wings o f l o v e and f a i t h i t l e a d s us, never f a i l i n g , t o e t e r n a l b e a t i t u d e . The most powerful means, then, and the most e f f i c i e n t instrument t o educate our h e a r t and t o r e v i v e i t s d i v i n e beauty i s the word. Thus i t i s our SACRED DUTY TO LEARN TO SPEAK OUR FAIR TONGUE EFFECTIVELY; e s p e c i a l l y those o f us who are not Tuscan.  159  I n o r d e r , then, to achieve such a noble purpose, I must o u t l i n e f o r you s e v e r a l MOST IMPORTANT r u l e s concerning the n e c e s s i t y and importance o f READING, RECITING AND DECLAIMING WELL. Three extremely i n t e r e s t i n g t h i n g s t o be performed i n a l l the s c h o o l s , i f not every day - as we do at our s c h o o l - a t l e a s t ! at l e a s t ! at l e a s t twice a week. Yes, gentlemen! For we are deeply convinced t h a t i n o r d e r t o l e a r n t o SPEAK EFFECTIVELY, one must f i r s t l e a r n to READ EFFECTIVELY, then t o RECITE EFFECTIVELY, and f i n a l l y to DECLAIM EFFECTIVELY; from which, as the blossom from the f l o w e r , w i l l n e c e s s a r i l y s p r i n g b e a u t i f u l p r o n u n c i a t i o n and the harmony o f speech. We s h a l l a l l o w o u r s e l v e s t o c a l l to your a t t e n t i o n and r e f l e c t i o n s e v e r a l rules! which w i l l be v e r y u s e f u l , o r r a t h e r , e s s e n t i a l , i n becoming an e f f e c t i v e reader, r e c i t e r and declaimer, and f i n a l l y , an e f f e c t i v e speaker. Read! Declaim! R e c i t e ! L e t us analyze each o f these a c t i o n s i n both t h e i r s t r i c t . a n d l i b e r a l meanings. L e t us see f o r a moment what read means. To read means to glance over w i t h one's eyes t h a t which i s w r i t t e n o r p r i n t e d i n o r d e r to come t o know i t s content; e i t h e r s i l e n t l y o r pronouncing the words w i t h a c e r t a i n amount o f emphasis i n o r d e r t o make them p u b l i c ; t h a t i s , t o make them known to o t h e r s . Now l e t us see what r e c i t e means. To r e c i t e i s t o say by h e a r t and a l o u d a dramatic or indeed a l i t e r a r y composition, as do a c t o r s on the s t a g e . Now l e t us see what declaim means. Declamation i s the a r t o f r e c i t i n g , i n a more emphatic tone, speeches, poems, d i a l o g u e s and so on, i n p u b l i c ! Accompanying them w i t h the appropriate gestures. The declamation o f the a n c i e n t s was under the patronage o f the goddess P o l i n n i a , one o f the n i n e muses who were p r o t e c t r e s s e s o f the a r t s and the s c i e n c e s , and who was d e p i c t e d crowned w i t h gems. D e p i c t e d as a m a g n i f i c e n t woman, dressed modestly i n white, her r i g h t hand i n the a c t o f g e s t u r i n g , and i n her l e f t a s c r o l l upon which was w r i t t e n : SUADERE. Suadere, which means to persuade; t h a t i s , t o convince the l i s t e n e r s . One t h i n g t o l e a r n , then, i s t h e a r t o f r e a d i n g e f f e c t i v e l y , i n a c l e a r tone, l e t t i n g the harmony o f the words and the shading o f the i d e a s be heard,, i n o r d e r to have them, when need be, ready! C l e a r ! Ample! Well-ordered! both i n speaking and i n w r i t i n g . . . Never t o l e r a t e haste i n r e a d i n g ; and pay g r e a t a t t e n t i o n to p r o n u n c i a t i o n , i n t o n a t i o n and a c c e n t s . Make the t o n i c accents heard; make heard as w e l l the s t r e s s e s used by those e f f e c t i v e speakers who, w i t h f i n e ! d i s t i n c t ! c l e a r ! s y l l a b i f i c a t i o n , know how t o use t h e i r v o i c e i n a n a t u r a l tone, b e a u t i f u l l y v a r i e d a c c o r d i n g t o the sentiments t h e y wish t o express, g i v i n g s p i r i t t o the words, j u s t as an  160  expert musician g i v e s l i f e t o t h e n o t e s , i n accordance w i t h the sentiments - sweet! p l e a s a n t ! sad! o r vehement! - by which he i s s t r i c k e n , knowing how t o c o l o r them w i t h modul a t i o n s i n o r d e r t o d e l i g h t those who l i s t e n . Now we w i l l speak about the v o i c e . The v o i c e , depending on the sentiments which s t i r i t i s s a i d t o be: SILVERY, GOLDEN, BRAZEN, HUSKY. F o r t h e v o i c e i s capable o f e x p r e s s i n g the BEAUTIFUL i n i t s v a r i e d and m a n i f o l d forms. The s i l v e r y v o i c e i s f r e s h , joyous, g e n t l e , s e r e n e . I t i s used i n j o c u l a r or_ COMIC compositions, where one i s d e s c r i b i n g handsomeness, grace, charm, l o v e l i n e s s , the g r a c e f u l n e s s o f the B e a u t i f u l . The golden v o i c e i s c l e a r , grand, m a j e s t i c . I t i s used i n compositions where t h a t which stands out i s t h e majesty and the g r e a t n e s s of t h e SUBLIME, p r e c i s e and dynamic Beautiful. The brazen v o i c e i s h a r s h , resonant, o r indeed deep and awesome, o r indeed s e p u l c h r a l and m a j e s t i c . I t i s used i n d e s c r i p t i o n s where t h a t which stands out i s d e s p e r a t i o n and i n which one wishes t o express the TRAGICALLY BEAUTIFUL. The husky v o i c e i s f u n e r e a l , dark, m y s t e r i o u s . I t i s used i n compositions where those t h i n g s which stand out are o p p r e s s i o n , d e j e c t i o n and mystery and i n which one wishes to express the DREADFUL BEAUTIFUL. One must not f o r g e t t h a t t h e r e are a t times compositions i n which t h a t which stands out i s the d i v e r s i t y o f sentiments, and which t h e r e f o r e r e q u i r e c a r e f u l study and repeated p r a c t i c e i n o r d e r t o be a b l e t o express them BEAUTIFULLY through the d i v e r s i t y o f the v o i c e s . Which produces a harmony so b e a u t i f u l t h a t i t enraptures the l i s t e n e r s , e n a b l i n g them to savour, through wondrous i n t e r l a c e m e n t , the b e a u t i f u l i n a l l i t s forms: COMIC, TRAGIC, SUBLIME, DREADFUL, i n harmonic d i v e r s i t y . Varietas delect at. Yet, however, i n t h e use o f the v o i c e s we must keep to the SILVERY and GOLDEN, e x p r e s s i n g w i t h them the t h r e e f o l d v i s i o n of the t r u e , the b e a u t i f u l and the good i n which t h e s o u l i s appeased, takes d e l i g h t and r e j o i c e s . And t h i s we must do by ever e n t i c i n g o r c h e e r i n g o r moving i n o r d e r t o i n s t r u c t our most b e a u t i f u l f a c u l t i e s w i t h serene and magnanimous thoughts, sentiments and a f f e c t i o n s , expressed w i t h a c l e a r , warm, v i g o r o u s , t e n d e r , e x q u i s i t e , a f f e c t i o n a t e word; a word a l l l i f e , i n t e l l i g e n c e and l o v e . "Which moves e x h o r t i n g o f the s o u l t o : sigh." Now l e t us see what one who reads, r e c i t e s o r declaims must do. Those who must read i n p u b l i c , r e c i t e o r d e c l a i m , have need o f u n t i r i n g p r a c t i c e aloud o f VOWELS, CONSONANTS, SYLLABLES and WORDS which they do not pronounce as w e l l as they s h o u l d . F o r o n l y w i t h p r a c t i c e can one succeed i n c o r r e c t i n g  161  i n c o r r e c t p r o n u n c i a t i o n stemming from s t r u c t u r a l d e f e c t s or f a u l t y habits. T h i s we have been doing f o r years i n our t e a c h i n g . One n o t i c e s e r r o r s i n cadence and p r o n u n c i a t i o n i n every r e g i o n i n I t a l y . The most common a l t e r a t i o n s are i n the p r o n u n c i a t i o n o f the vowels e, o, u . Of the consonants s, s c , z. Of double consonants, which v e r y few persons pronounce f u l l y . One must observe, furthermore, the d i s t i n c t i o n between the two ways o f pronouncing e and o; w i t h the open o r w i t h the c l o s e d sound. S and z; Hard o r s o f t sound. I n n e a r l y a l l o f our I t a l y , and on our i s l a n d s , persons have d i f f i c u l t y pronouncing e and p_ w e l l . Grammar r u l e s are o f l i t t l e h e l p . I n t h i s s p e c i f i c case, n a t u r a l l y . Here what i s c a l l e d f o r i s p r a c t i c e and e f f e c t i v e t e a c h e r s who know how t o teach the c o r r e c t p r o n u n c i a t i o n o f e and £ open o r c l o s e d - a c c o r d i n g t o Tuscan usage. We, when we t e a c h our p u p i l s t o read, make use o f the P e t r o c c h i d i c t i o n a r y , which i n d i c a t e s w i t h t o n i c accents the c o r r e c t p r o n u n c i a t i o n of the words. I have now come t o PUNCTUATION. What i s punctuation? P u n c t u a t i o n i s guide and comfort t o the r e a d e r , r e c i t e r o r d e c l a i m e r who must punctuate through cadence t h a t which the w r i t e r has punctuated w i t h h i s pen. However, as more than a few authors are s p a r i n g o f commas, and many p r i n t e r s are s t i n g y o f them, a good r e a d e r o r r e c i t e r o r d e c l a i m e r must be l i b e r a l i n adding commas, o r r a t h e r making many pauses, and must d i s t i n g u i s h even the s l i g h t e s t l o g i c a l completion, without f o r g e t t i n g t h e o t h e r pauses i n d i c a t e d by the semicolon, the c o l o n , the q u e s t i o n mark, the exclamation p o i n t and the p e r i o d . E v e r y one o f them pauses which, as r e s t s , are an i n t e g r a l p a r t o f the address, coming as t h e y do under the j u r i s d i c t i o n o f eurhythmy, o r rhythm i f you wish, as do r e s t s i n music - melody, harmony. F o r e f f e c t i v e speaking i s no o t h e r than a hidden melody whose s u c c e s s i v e rhythm i s what r e v e a l s the harmony o f t h e words, sentences and paragraphs, which must form a d i s c o u r s e p e r f e c t i n a l l i t s parts; that i s , order. What does o r d e r c o n s i s t o f ? Order c o n s i s t s o f t h i s : UNITY IN DIVERSITY. U n i t y i n d i v e r s i t y , which i s what the e n t i r e essence o f the b e a u t i f u l c o n s i s t s o f . When one speaks, then, o r r e c i t e s o r declaims o r s i n g s , pauses are n e c e s s a r y . As we s a i d b e f o r e . . . a s we s a i d p r e v i o u s l y , such pauses are v e r i t a b l e r e s t s which g i v e due c o l o r i n g t o the d i s c o u r s e and render i t as m u s i c a l as p o s s i b l e w i t h n a t u r a l n e s s , judgement and a r t . The comma i n d i c a t e s a pause o f one second. The semicolon i n d i c a t e s a pause o f two seconds. The c o l o n i n d i c a t e s a pause o f t h r e e seconds.  162  The q u e s t i o n mark and exclamation p o i n t i n d i c a t e a pause o f f o u r o r f i v e - but no more - seconds, as c a l l e d f o r . The p e r i o d v a r i e s from seven t o t e n seconds depending upon the i n t e r n a l p a r t i c u l a r i t i e s o f the composition one i s reading. L e t us now t a l k about e l l i p s e s . These i n d i c a t e a more or l e s s l o n g pause i n d i c a t i n g a - excuse me f o r r e p e a t i n g myself - SUSPENSION WHICH IS TO MAKE THOSE LISTENING THINK OR INDEED REFLECT. L e t us g i v e an example: "Oh! I f you knew...what woes... what anxieties...what, s u f f e r i n g . . . w h a t misery...what p a i n ! " I n s h o r t , a l l o f these i n d i c a t i o n s are p a r t o f rhythm o r eurhythmy, a law o f order i n h e r e n t i n man which, i n h e l p i n g us t o accent words, sees t h a t t h e y are pronounced b e a u t i f u l l y IN TIME, WITH FEELING, METER AND MEASURE. And i t i s here t h a t the o r a t o r ' s s k i l l f u l n e s s l i e s . When i n h i s words t h e r e i s judgement, wisdom and a r t ; as, f o r example, i n these v e r s e s o f Dante: To such a q u i e t , such a b e a u t i f u l L i f e o f the c i t i z e n , t o such a s a f e Community, and t o so sweet an i n n , D i d Mary g i v e me, w i t h l o u d c r i e s invoked. We have now come t o g e s t u r e s . L e t us t r y t o agree upon the meaning o f the word g e s t u r e s . By g e s t u r e s one means those a c t i o n s and movements e s p e c i a l l y o f the head and o f the hands - which g i v e a s s i s t a n c e , f o r c e and e x p r e s s i o n t o words. At times g e s t u r e s may be a l i v e l y m a n i f e s t a t i o n o f the concept i n themselves. Few g e s t u r e s are needed i n o r d e r t o d e c l a i m e f f e c t i v e l y . But those which one does use must be n a t u r a l , spontaneous, rounded and g r a c e f u l l y d e l i v e r e d . They must not precede the words t o which t h e y r e f e r , but be simultaneous w i t h them. Save when they are o f such a nature as t o v i s i b l y present the concept t o the eyes o f one's l i s t e n e r s , even b e f o r e i t i s h e r a l d e d i n words. A gesture of the hand must begin below the chest, and the arm must be extended g r a c e f u l l y . Not to i t s ' f u l l l e n g t h . But somewhat bent, and f a i r l y c l o s e t o one's s i d e . O r d i n a r i l y the hands must not be l i f t e d above the head. They must not stop before the f a c e , nor b e f o r e the chest, and n e i t h e r should e n t e r the o t h e r ' s p r o v i n c e . When the t e a c h e r goes t o the rostrum t o r e c i t e o r when he c a l l s a p u p i l t o the rostrum t o read, make note o f t h i s : he must walk a t a modest pace. L e t h i s arms hang. Hang, I say! Not t o be confused w i t h swing. Hang. Have an u n c o n s t r a i n e d a i r , without bowing h i s head. Once he has reached the rostrum o r indeed the stage o r i s behind a desk, the r e a d e r o r r e c i t e r or d e c l a i m e r w i l l take a s m a l l p o l i t e bow t o h i s audience.  163  I f someone of a u t h o r i t y i s present i n the audience, the reader o r r e c i t e r o r d e c l a i m e r w i l l focus h i s eyes d i r e c t l y on t h a t person's f a c e . Do not keep your eyes lowered t o the f l o o r . Only the i n e x p e r i e n c e d keep t h e i r eyes on the f l o o r . Then bow f i r s t to the r i g h t , then t o the l e f t , and f i n a l l y d i r e c t your gaze g r a c i o u s l y upon a l l . In announcing the t i t l e o f the composition, the r e c i t e r w i l l i n c l i n e h i s head somewhat towards the audience. I f t h e r e i s no t i t l e , he w i l l immediately assume the desired position. He w i l l h o l d the pages o f the composition always i n h i s l e f t hand i n o r d e r to keep the r i g h t hand f r e e and t o make the a p p r o p r i a t e g e s t u r e s . I f he i s u s i n g the pages, when s a y i n g the t i t l e and the f i r s t l i n e he w i l l keep h i s eyes not oh the page but on the audience. And begin w i t h a s m i l e . Thus. I n o r d e r t o i n c l i n e the h e a r t s t o l i s t e n w i t h benevolent a t t e n t i o n t o our words; words which must be r i c h i n a p a l a t a b l e wisdom n e c e s s a r i l y possessed by us i n abundance. F o r the mouth speaks from the abundance o f the h e a r t . I f the d e c l a i m e r i s alone on the rostrum, he s h a l l assume a g r a c e f u l s t a n d i n g p o s i t i o n f a c i n g the r i g h t ; i . e . keeping the l e f t f o o t f i r m , p l a c i n g the o t h e r so t h a t i t w i l l form n a t u r a l l y an open angle w i t h the f i r s t : a p o s i t i o n which he can v a r y e i t h e r by moving the r i g h t f o o t forward o r by moving the o t h e r back, i n accordance w i t h t h a t which he i s e x p r e s s i n g . When t h e r e are two persons r e c i t i n g , one must assume the p o s i t i o n f a c i n g the r i g h t , and the o t h e r the exact o p p o s i t e ; i . e . the p o s i t i o n f a c i n g the l e f t . I f , on the o t h e r hand, t h e r e are t h r e e persons dec l a i m i n g , the t h i r d must stand i n the middle as i f he were alone. Take care t h a t the body o f each i n t e r l o c u t o r be turned always towards the assembly; o n l y the head must move, i n t h a t i t must address i t s e l f t o the person one i s speaking or l i s t e n i n g t o . Note t h a t an e f f e c t i v e d e l i v e r y i n speaking i s one o f the most b e a u t i f u l q u a l i t i e s which we must c u l t i v a t e i n o r d e r t o c a p t i v a t e the h e a r t o f the assembly. I t i s d i f f i c u l t t o say how much the p o l i t e n e s s and a m i a b i l i t y o f words can do t o r e c o n c i l e h e a r t s , says C i c e r o . And the Holy S c r i p t u r e s r i g h t l y say, " P l e a s a n t words are as an honeycomb." Favus m e l l i s composita Verba. E v e r y t h i n g we have s a i d so f a r i s i n s i g n i f i c a n t and of l i t t l e worth i f we do not observe, when speaking, w i t h e x a c t i t u d e and ICE SEL Y; t h a t i s , w i t h JUDGEMENT AND ART, the f o l l o w i n g r u l e s ; as w e l l as w i t h GREAT NATURALNESS, whose  164  t e a c h e r i s t h e v e r y nature o f t h e e x p r e s s i o n o f our a f f e c t i o n s , our thoughts and sentiments - t h e t a n g i b l e s i g n being t h e word; marvelous r e v e a l i n g v e h i c l e o f the DIVINE FOOTNOTE w r i t t e n deep i n t h e s o u l o f a l l b e i n g s , which s i n g s ever w i t h t h e Poet: Created me d i v i n e Omnipotence, The h i g h e s t Wisdom, and t h e p r i m a l Love. Thus, i n r e a d i n g , r e c i t i n g , d e c l a i m i n g , sermonizing, t e a c h i n g , l e c t u r i n g - i n s h o r t , i n o r d e r t o l e a r n t o speak e f f e c t i v e l y , p o l i t e l y , amiably; d e l i v e r i n g one's words b e a u t i f u l l y w i t h g r a c e f u l g e s t u r e s and movements - one must p l e a s e excuse me i f I o u t l i n e f o r g r e a t e r c l a r i t y and e x a c t ness: A. Give g r e a t e r emphasis t o t h e a d j e c t i v e s and adverbs than t o t h e words which accompany them. B. G r a d u a l l y i n c r e a s e and d i m i n i s h t h e volume o f t h e v o i c e when words, complements o r s i m i l a r l o c u t i o n s f o l l o w each o t h e r . C. Modulate the v o i c e i n o r d e r t o express w i t h i t t h e meaning o f c e r t a i n terms: thus t h e word s o f t i s pronounced softly. The word slow: s l o w l y . Harsh: h a r s h l y . Proud: p r o u d l y . And pronounce o t h e r words i n t h i s way a c c o r d i n g t o t h e meanings and sounds d e s i r e d . D. Pause between s u b j e c t and verb i n o r d e r t o f u r t h e r a t t r a c t t h e a t t e n t i o n o f t h e audience. E. Pause a f t e r but when i t i n t r o d u c e s an a d v e r s a t i v e or c o r r e c t i v e p r o p o s i t i o n . F. P l a c e t h e cadence o f t h e q u e s t i o n mark not n e c e s s a r i l y always a t t h e end o f t h e p r o p o s i t i o n , o r indeed o f the sentence, but upon t h a t word t o which one must r e p l y , u s u a l l y one o f t h e f o l l o w i n g : where? how? why? when? who? what? L e t us take a book and choose a t random... I p i c k e d up a book and opened i t t o a page I ' d marked, making i t l o o k l i k e i t was a t random. ....Let us read any o l d sentence....here we a r e : "Tonino, a r e you going i n t o town today?" T h i s sounds l i k e a common sentence, one o f t h e many which f i l l our textbooks.... And y e t . . . . "Tonino, a r e you going i n t o town today?" I f one wants t o r e p l y t o going, i n o r d e r t o know whether Tonino i s going o r not, one p l a c e s t h e i n t e r r o g a t i v e i n f l e c t i o n on the' g o i n g . I f one wants t o know whether Tonino o r another i s going i n t o town, one p l a c e s t h e i n f l e c t i o n on t h e you. And l i k e wise on t h e today i n o r d e r t o know when he i s going i n t o town. One p l a c e s t h e i n f l e c t i o n on town i n o r d e r t o know  165  whether Tonino i s going i n t o town or elsewhere. One m u s t d i s t i n g u i s h c a r e f u l l y a m o n g t h e t h r e e c a d e n c e s of the voice: t h e o r d i n a r y o r comma c a d e n c e . The suspensive o r s e m i c o l o n c a d e n c e , a c a d e n c e w h i c h one u s e s i n t h e middle of suspensive or comparative sentences. The f i n a l o r f u l l stop cadence. A b o v e a l l , one must n e v e r c o n f u s e t h e q u e s t i o n mark w i t h t h e e x c l a m a t i o n p o i n t , w h i c h one m u s t n e v e r make a b u s e o f ; t h a t i s t o s a y , do n o t be e x c e s s i v e i n i t s u s e . We h a v e c r e a t e d a s y s t e m o f c o n v e n t i o n a l s i g n s f o r a s s i s t a n c e i n succeeding i n u s i n g words w e l l . We w e r e t h i n k i n g n o t o n l y o f o u r own p u p i l s , b u t o f a l l o f t h o s e who, p o s s e s s i n g a n a t u r a l l o q u a c i t y , d e s i r e t o p e r f e c t i t i n o r d e r t o become e f f e c t i v e s p e a k e r s . We r e j o i c e d i n t h i s d i d a c t i c d i s c o v e r y o f o u r s and -submitted i t t o t h e i l l u m i n a t e d and i l l u m i n a t i n g judgement o f s e v e r a l colleagues. We r e a l i z e d t h a t we h a d h i t u p o n s o m e t h i n g s o u n d . T h i s s y s t e m i s f o r a l l o f t h o s e who a r e b e g i n n i n g t o declaim. I t i s a collection of conventional signs to help them a p p l y t h e p r i n c i p l e s and r u l e s w h i c h I have expounded upon above. Here they are. I this  went t o the  black  b o a r d and  with  a gesture  traced  sign:  "This," "It facing As  I went on,  s e e m s t o me  the  right,"  a matter  t h a t you  one  of  " i s called  of  the  fact....I  are  a vertical not  i n the  line...." correct  c o m m i t t e e members resumed the  position  said.  position  and  went  The v e r t i c a l l i n e f o l l o w i n g a w o r d i n d i c a t e s a p a u s e ! n o t ! i n d i c a t e d ! by! p u n c t u a t i o n ! A n a t u r a l and l o g i c a l p a u s e w h i c h m u s t b e made t o a t t r a c t o t h e r s a t t e n t i o n . Now we h a v e come t o t h e s e c o n d s i g n :  I  resume the  correct standing  position  and  explain.  This sign i s called: horizontal line. The h o r i z o n t a l l i n e u n d e r a w o r d i n d i c a t e s R A I S I N G OF THE V O I C E I N THE P R O N U N C I A T I O N OF THE U N D E R L I N E D WORD.  on.  166  The  double v e r t i c a l l i n e , on t h e o t h e r hand; i . e . t h i s :  means t h a t t h e p r o p o s i t i o n which f o l l o w s must be pronounced i n a tone which GRADUALLY RISES OR FALLS as r e q u i r e d by t h e meaning o f t h e p r o p o s i t i o n i t s e l f . . The v e r t i c a l d o t t e d l i n e :  the v e r t i c a l d o t t e d l i n e , I repeat, warns one t h a t as t h e i d e a i n t h e d i s c o u r s e i s changing, so must one change t h e i n t o n a t i o n o f one's v o i c e ; done f o r t h e most p a r t when one i s CITING THE WORDS OF OTHERS. The b r a c k e t :  means r a p i d i t y i n pronouncing t h e sentence enclosed by i t ; but not t o t h e p o i n t o f mumbling o r swallowing t h e words; a r a p i d i t y which s t i l l allows f o r a d i s t i n c t p r o n u n c i a t i o n o f t h e s y l l a b l e s o f each word i n t h e sentence. The d i v e r g e n t angle:  under t h e words i n d i c a t e s t h a t they must begin i n a moderate tone o f v o i c e and end i n a l o u d one. The convergent angle:  under t h e words, on t h e o t h e r hand, i n d i c a t e s t h e o p p o s i t e ; t h a t i s , t h a t these words must begin i n a l o u d tone o f v o i c e and end i n a moderate one. We have now come t o t h e l a s t s i g n o f our system, o r r a t h e r , t o t h e l a s t s i g n s o f our system:  These s i g n s a r e c a l l e d h o r i z o n t a l l i n e s . The h o r i z o n t a l l i n e s , when thus drawn under the words, i n d i c a t e a gradual i n c r e a s e i n volume i n t h e p r o n u n c i a t i o n o f t h e s u c c e s s i o n o f words. As an example, I s h a l l show you how a p a r t o f the "The Sepulchres" by F o s c o l o sounds w i t h my system. "The Sepulchres"  167  i s a poem.... "What i s 'The Sepulchres'?" t h e p r e s i d e n t i n t e r r u p t e d . "An ode i n blank h e n d e c a s y l l a b l e s , " I c o r r e c t e d myself, and went on. "The Sepulchres" must be read i n a husky v o i c e . R e p e t i t a Juvant. R e p e t i t i o n would be o f b e n e f i t . A husky v o i c e ; t h a t i s , f u n e r e a l , dark, m y s t e r i o u s . All'ombra  d e i c i p r e s s i e dentro l ' u r n e  C o n f o r t a t e d i p i a n t o e f o r s e i l sonno D e l i a morte men duro?  Ove  j piu i l sole  Per me a l i a t e r r a non J f e c o n d i questa B e l l e d'erbe f a m i g l i a e d ' a n i m a l i E quando  ! vaghi d i l u s i n g h e i n n a n z i  A me non danzeran l ' o r e  future,J  Ne da t e d o l c e amico, udro p i u i l verso E l a mesta armonia che l o governa... I n o r d e r t o read o r r e c i t e o r d e c l a i m e f f e c t i v e l y , t h e p u p i l s must know t h e excerpt o r passage o r poem by h e a r t , having s t u d i e d i t w i t h t h e c o n v e n t i o n a l s i g n s o f our system. They must read i t numerous times, f i r s t f o r t h e meaning, then i n accordance w i t h t h e i n d i c a t e d pauses, tones and cadences. Then t h e educator w i l l r e q u i r e t h e p u p i l s t o accompany the words w i t h g e s t u r e s , which t o g e t h e r w i l l c o n s t i t u t e t h e eurhythmy. And f i n a l l y , declamation - where one must always c u l t i v a t e t h e s p o n t a n e i t y o f speech, which i s t h e most precious g i f t p o s s i b l e i n order not t o l a p s e i n t o the a f f e c t e d and t h e r i d i c u l o u s , which both bore and s i c k e n .  168  As the great poet P i g n a t t i d i M e l i l l i  s a i d so w e l l :  Learn, my, son A r t s and r e a d i n g Ever, my son, Comfort - b r i n g i n g . The f i r s t aim o f a r t being to d e l i g h t , and the u l t i m a t e aim p e r f e c t i o n , i t i s necessary t h a t the a r t i s t take i n s p i r a t i o n from the rhythm which God p l a c e d i n the u n i v e r s e , a r r a n g i n g e v e r y t h i n g w i t h g r a v i t y , meter, measure, power and smoothness. T h i s symmetry i s c a l l e d rhythm; t h a t i s , concordance, which i n language as w e l l i s no o t h e r than the o r d e r o f the p a r t s w i t h i n the whole; t h a t i s , u n i t y i n d i v e r s i t y , which, from the b e a u t i f u l and p u r e l y Greek word, we c a l l harmony. From t h i s stems the o r d e r o f the words i n d i s c o u r s e , which, i f spoken i n a c l e a r and emphatic v o i c e , i s c a l l e d spoken o r declamatory rhythm and i s l i k e a a hidden chant, which b r i n g s d e l i g h t to those l i s t e n i n g . I f the o r d e r i s measured i n the s y l l a b l e s , accents and v e r s e s , i t i s c a l l e d m e t r i c a l rhythm o r p o e t i c rhythm. F i n a l l y , i t i s c a l l e d m u s i c a l rhythm i f the v o i c e i s more i n t e n s e , s u s t a i n e d , modulated, even blended w i t h i n s t r u m e n t s , i n o r d e r to g i v e o r i g i n to melody, i n which the d i v e r s i t y o f the rhythm i s s u c c e s s i v e ; and simultaneous i n harmony. Of t h i s c o n s i s t s t h a t essence o f the b e a u t i f u l which we can express w i t h words. The u n i v e r s e , then, i s a d i v i n e music i n which r a d i a t e s o c c u l t and p e r e n n i a l , i n f i n i t e l y d i v e r s e melody. I n an i n e f f a b l e rhythm, which, i n t e r l a c i n g a l l t h i n g s o f c r e a t i o n from the f l o w e r to the s p a r k l i n g s t a r , s t i r s them i n wondrous harmony i n o r d e r to make manifest God's i n f i n i t e g l o r y ; t h i s through the word which proceeds from Him as the F i r s t , e f f i c i e n t , i d e a l and u l t i m a t e Cause o f every beauty c r e a t e d , o f which Manzoni speaks so w e l l i n these wondrous v e r s e s : Thou who c o n c e a l e s t t h e y s e l f Our eyes seek t o no a v a i l But the opus o f t h y hand Thee as L o r d doth u n v e i l . We have thus come t o the end o f our t a l k . An i n t e r e s t i n g t h i n g to ponder: - d u r i n g the Roman Empire i t was the custom t o h o l d p u b l i c r e a d i n g s , which had become h i g h l y renowned i n Rome and to which f l o c k e d youths, students and s c h o l a r s . Could we not do the same today i n the r e s p e c t i v e m u n i c i p a l i t i e s o f a l l n a t i o n s , at l e a s t once a month, u n i t i n g i n a bond o f f a i t h and l o v e students, l e a r n e d men, and s c h o l a r s ? A most noble i n s t i t u t i o n i t would be.  169  And, b e s i d e s the r e a d i n g s , r e c i t a t i o n s and declamations, have speeches, conferences and e d u c a t i o n a l d e l i b e r a t i o n s as w e l l , i n o r d e r t o e l e v a t e mankind from the i n f e r n a l abyss of HATE and CAINISM i n t o which i t has so m i s e r a b l y f a l l e n ? No age has had such need as we have o f the EDUCATIONAL CHARISMA OF THE WORD. THE NUPTIAL BED, THE SCHOOL, THE ALTAR: HAVE NO EDUCATORS. The t r u e , o n l y , supreme and d i v i n e educator has been expelled. Not l o v e t h e y have these days, but hate And know not how t o educate. The i n s t i t u t i o n we must c r e a t e today i s e s s e n t i a l , v i t a l , supremely b e a u t i f u l ; i t s i n i t i a l s are A.M.E.N. What does Amen mean? Amen means: A MONTHLY EDUCATIONAL NECESSITY. Amen i s a t r u l y noble word; indeed: h o l y ; indeed: d i v i n e , which means IT IS SO! SO DO I TRUST! SO BE IT! That i s , a t h r e e f o l d a f f i r m a t i o n o f f a i t h , hope and l o v e among those whose h e a r t s are w i t h God; from which s p r i n g s the most b e a u t i f u l f r u i t : BROTHERLY LOVE, which, as the Poet P i g n a t t i d i M e l i l l i says so w e l l : By a l l e a r t h ' s peoples must be heard As law; f i r s t , s o l e and o n l y word. Supreme law which we must always observe as SINE QUA NON, i n o r d e r to be t r u l y happy i n t h i s so b r i e f l i f e . When we t h i n k t h a t y e s t e r d a y one was born, today one breathes, tomorrow one s h a l l d i e , what b e t t e r j o y can we have than the j o y o f c a r i n g about each o t h e r , o f l o v i n g and h e l p i n g each o t h e r r e - c i - p r o - c a l - l y ! This i s C h r i s t i a n i t y : e t e r n a l i d e a and omnipotent educat i o n a l word, which i n i t s v i s i o n o f the p a s t , p r e s e n t , and f u t u r e e x p l a i n s the d i v i n e harmony o f the u n i v e r s e . Unshaken, i n d o m i t a b l e , i t overcomes a l l , p r o s t r a t e s a l l , surmounts a l l . Coerced, i t triumphs; i n s t r u g g l e , i t towers. Oppressed, i t emancipates i t s e l f ; and i t i s ever queen. Moreover, i t i s the p e r e n n i a l source; o f t h a t supreme a r t i f i c e r , beauty; and of t h a t supreme guide, goodness. Sovereign i n i t s freedom o f g r e a t t h i n g s , i t i s the * u n f a i l i n g t e a c h e r and author o f c i v i l i z a t i o n and o f p r o g r e s s . Sweet, benign and without envy, without p r i d e , without m a l i c e , honest, generous, j u s t , f r e e , c h e e r f u l , l o v i n g and l o v e d , i t s h a l l never f a l l i n t o n o t h i n g n e s s . F o r e v e r i t l a s t s and f o r e v e r guides mankind t o i t s sublime d e s t i n i e s .  170  The p r e s i d e n t o f t h e committee shook my hand.  Then  another member o f t h e committee s a i d , "But s c h o o l i s n ' t j u s t r e a d i n g and r e c i t i n g !  T e l l us:  hov$ my dear man, would you  begin t e a c h i n g your weights and measures?" "How?  I'd d i c t a t e t h i s t o t h e p u p i l s :  A better rule Cannot be found A p i n t ' s a pound The world around." R e s u l t o f t h e exam:  f i f t y out o f f i f t y .  Going out I r a n i n t o N a n i n i , who had a h a l f i r o n i c , h a l f enigmatic "Flunked  smile on h i s f a c e . a g a i n , " he s a i d w i t h a smirk.  "My l e s s o n on the  Greater Maple o r Sycamore wasn't c o n v i n c i n g enough!"  171  P a r t Three  I  The new s c h o o l year's about t o b e g i n .  I t would be my  t w e n t i e t h year here, but a c t u a l l y i t ' s l i k e my f i r s t ! I went t o s c h o o l t h i s morning: our s t u d e n t s .  they were a s s i g n i n g us  I was supposed t o g e t , among o t h e r s , an  i n d u s t r i a l i s t ' s son. "How about t r a d i n g him f o r t h r e e craftsman's sons?" Amiconi  asked.  "What?" "You g i v e me the i n d u s t r i a l i s t ' s  son, and I ' l l g i v e you  t h r e e craftsman's sons!" "No way," I s a i d . Then C i p o l l o n e came up t o me. industrialist's one...son  "Trade you your  son f o r two s m a l l - b u s i n e s s owner's sons and  of a bitch!"  172  "I'm  hanging onto my i n d u s t r i a l i s t ' s son," I s a i d .  J u s t then R a p i a n i got t h e r e . " I g e t a l l t h e scum," she y e l l e d .  " I t ' s no f a i r Mombelli gets a l l t h e r i c h k i d s  and I get a l l t h e scum!" " I haven't got any r i c h k i d s , " I s a i d . "How many b a s t a r d s from the Orphanage have you got?" "Twer."  "I've got t h i r t y - t w o ! " she y e l l e d . "That's your tough l u c k . " "But you've got f i f t e e n craftsman's sons, one i n d u s t r i a l i s t ' s son and t h r e e businessman's  sons; i t ' s not  f a i r ; l e t ' s go h a l f and h a l f . " "I'm  hanging onto my s t u d e n t s , " I s a i d .  Meanwhile my c o l l e a g u e s were a l l t r a d i n g t h e i r s t u d e n t s : F i l i p p i ' d handed over an i n d u s t r i a l i s t ' s son i n exchange f o r f o u r craftsman's sons; P a g l i a n i ' d t r a d e d two craftsman's sons f o r two mama's boys. "I've got a craftsman's son: I ' l l worker's  sons," C i p o l l o n e  t r a d e him f o r two  yelled.  "You've got a d e a l , " I s a i d . "But those a r e Category Three workers; I mean Category One,"  he answered. We l o o k e d a t our c l a s s - r e g i s t e r s .  One worker's  sons t o o .  I had two Category  "No take-backs!" C a i p l l o n e  yelled.  Then we found out h i s k i d wasn't a craftsman's son, but son o f a craftsman turned i n d u s t r i a l i s t .  Amiconi s a i d so,  173  p o i n t i n g t o the "Business N o t i c e s " column i n t h e I n f o r m a t o r e . "I want him back!" C i p o l l o n e y e l l e d , I s m i l e d t h i s s l y dog k i n d o f s m i l e . "I'll  g i v e you a good d e a l , " Amiconi  s a i d t o him,  "How  about three;.sons o f you know who's f o r t h r e e worker's sons?" "What am I supposed  t o do w i t h sons o f you know who's  at my age! " "You don't know how generous  those g a l s a r e ! "  C i p o l l o n e came back over t o me,  "Give me my c r a f t s -  m a n / i n d u s t r i a l i s t ' s son back!" "No take-backs," I s a i d . I had t h r e e k i d s from t h e w e l f a r e r o l l s , i . e . about as poor as you can g e t . ward, i d i o t i c Filippi are  "Who wants these t h r e e k i d s f o r a back-  new k i d o f I t a l i a n e x t r a c t i o n ? " I asked. t o l d me not t o t r y and be so smart.  "Those k i d s  r e g i s t e r e d w i t h t h e w e l f a r e o f f i c e but they've got T.V.'s!  And one's got a s t a t i o n wagon too!  Boy, I'm t e l l i n g  you - I've  g o t t e n i t up i n t h a t s t a t i o n wagon a l l r i g h t ! " I t r a d e d two k i d s f o r one backward, r e t a r d e d one. one's got a s i s t e r ! " F i l i p p i  t o l d me,  "That  "You can get i t up  p r e t t y good!" R a p i a n i came back over t o me, haven't got a s i n g l e poor k i d here:  "What's the s t o r y ?  You  e i t h e r you g i v e me a t  l e a s t t e n o f yours o r I ' l l t e l l t h e p r i n c i p a l ! " "God I  yelled.  gave them t o me, nobody's going t o take them away!"  174  Rapiani s a i d she was going t o count t o t h r e e . " W i l l you t r a d e ? " "No!" "Are  you gonna t r a d e w i t h me?"  "No!" "For t h e l a s t  time..."  "My dear l i t t l e  one....no!"  R a p i a n i y e l l e d and t h e p r i n c i p a l came up. Sir,  "After a l l ,  i s i t f a i r f o r Mombelli t o have t h i r t y w e l l - o f f k i d s  and me f o r t y b a d l y - o f f ones?" "Quieta non movere e t mota q u i e t a r e , " the p r i n c i p a l  said.  The t r a d i n g was s t i l l going on i n t h e c o r r i d o r . "I've got t h e daughter o f one o f you know who; the mother's o n l y twenty... butcher's  son," Amiconi  But a t my age, I'd r a t h e r have a said.  "I've got a butcher's  son!" F i l i p p i  said.  "Trade?" "Come on!" Then B r a g a g l i a s a i d , "I've got an i n d u s t r i a l i s t ' s son: I'll  t r a d e f o r two worker's sons!" "Me!  Me!  Me!" v a r i o u s people  shouted.  " B r a g a g l i a , I ' l l g i v e you two sons o f Category One t e c h n i c i a n s f o r him!" C i p o l l o n e s a i d . "O.K.!"  When they'd t r a d e d , B r a g a g l i a s t a r t e d l a u g h i n g .  "That i n d u s t r i a l i s t i s such a miser!"  175  "Gimme my two t e c h n i c i a n ' s sons back!" C i p o l l o n e shouted. There was a k i d from the Orphanage, son o f Unknown, i n my c l a s s - r e g i s t e r . "Give him t o me?" Amiconi  said.  "I'll  t r a d e you a r i c h  craftsman's son!" "No!** "But he's a b a s t a r d ! " Amiconi "I'm h o l d i n g onto him!  said.  You t h i n k I don't know he's the  illegitimate k i d of a b i g i n d u s t r i a l i s t ? " I'd g o t t e n myself a good c l a s s o f lower upper-class k i d s .  middle-and  I was l o o k i n g a t my r e g i s t e r , under  "Father's p r o f e s s i o n . " "Mr. Mombelli,  The p r i n c i p a l came up.  you w i l l hand your c l a s s over t o my w i f e .  You a r e going t o be a t the d i s p o s a l o f the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . " " A l l r i g h t , Mr. P r i n c i p a l , " I s a i d . "We have been named a s s i s t a n t "Group A.  Point t o t a l  3250!"  superintendent!" Amiconi  muttered.  The a s s i s t a n t superintendent l o o k e d a t my and shook h i s head.  class-register  " S t i l l having t r o u b l e w i t h those l o o p s ! "  he s i g h e d .  II.  F o r a w h i l e now I've suspected t h a t Ada's being u n f a i t h ful;  f o r quite a while.  The thought  o f the redheaded baby  176  hasn't d i e d ; i t ' s  dormant.  E v e r y once i n a w h i l e i t wakes  up and t o s s e s around i n my mind. Ada's u n f a i t h f u l ! way  I'm  convinced she's u n f a i t h f u l . .  she s l e e p s so s e r e n e l y , her s h i n i n g f a c e , t e l l me  unfaithful.  I t h i n k about how  The  she's  I've got t h e k i n d o f w i f e I  deserve, I've got what I d e s e r v e . But then I wonder i f t h i s s u s p i c i o n i s r e a l l y  justified  and not j u s t d i r e c t i n g my b i t t e r n e s s back a t h e r ? My w i f e earns much more than I do; t h r e e times as much as I do; and I can t e l l  she's s a t i s f i e d w i t h h e r s e l f .  h u m i l i a t e d t h a t she earns more than me, not  the head o f the household any more:  I'm  humiliated that  I'm  so then I t h i n k  she's  unfaithful. I  spend whole a f t e r n o o n s t h i n k i n g t h a t w h i l e I'm  she's b e i n g u n f a i t h f u l t o me. of  thinking,  I t h i n k almost i n d i f f e r e n t l y  her i n the a c t o f g i v i n g h e r s e l f t o a man.  I think  about  how I've never been u n f a i t h f u l t o h e r , and then I can f e e l the  b i t t e r n e s s explode i n s i d e  me.  Sometimes I t h i n k I s h o u l d l i e i n w a i t near the workshop and shadow my w i f e ; and I t h i n k how do i t .  sooner o r l a t e r I ' l l  But the days go by, one a f t e r another, and I don't.  Why,  I t h i n k , am I a f r a i d o f not a c t i n g l i k e a husband  whose w i f e i s u n f a i t h f u l ?  How  does a husband whose w i f e i s  u n f a i t h f u l act? I know q u i t e a few o f them who're a c t i n g j u s t l i k e I now;  i n d i f f e r e n t l y , ignoring i t .  am  177  Then I take refuge i n thoughts o f Eva. body f u l l  o f l i g h t , h e r harmony, h e r v o i c e .  myself c a l l , I  and I t h i n k , Who  "Eva!" I hear  knows where Eva i s r i g h t  now.  spend hours and hours t h i n k i n g about h e r , and I  t h i n k about how by t h i n k i n g about her I'm to  Imagining her  being u n f a i t h f u l  my w i f e , and t h a t makes me f e e l r e a l l y good.  u n f a i t h f u l i n your head?' I say t o m y s e l f .  'You're  ' I t ' s not so  hard, you know! ' Then I t h i n k about Rino, who s c h o o l , who  s t u d i e s , who  g e t s good grades, who's f i r s t  behaves at  i n his class.  I  see him bent over h i s books s t u d y i n g and I f e e l sure o f myself.  " H e ' l l be a Group A.  B e t t e r yet - a Group A  supervisor." "What are you going t o be when you grow up, Rino?" I ask  him. "I  don't know!" he answers w i t h those sad eyes.  And I t e l l myself Rino i s n ' t e n t e r p r i s i n g l i k e h i s Uncle C a r l o ; h e ' l l want a s a l a r y t o l i v e on, and I'm  glad.  A Group  A salary, I think.  III.  I went over t o Ada's work-shop. I  asked.  "Can I be o f any h e l p ? "  B r o t h e r and s i s t e r shook t h e i r heads.  I expected  178  t h a t , but I d i d i t t o see i f I was capable o f an a c t o f humility. "We don't need you," C a r l o answered me. They went back t o work and I stood t h e r e l o o k i n g a t them. Then some men came i n , and b r o t h e r and s i s t e r withdrew and did  some b u s i n e s s , I assume. I felt left  out o f t h a t world o f t h e i r s , t h a t l i f e o f  t h e i r s , t h a t c i r c l e I ' d c r e a t e d ; and I f e l t  d i s l i k e f o r my  wife. "What a b e a u t i f u l b r a c e l e t , ma'am!" one o f the b u s i n e s s men s a i d "It's  politely. a present from my Antonio!" Ada answered w i t h a  c o q u e t t i s h s m i l e , p u t t i n g h e r arm a c r o s s my s h o u l d e r . never g i v e n h e r a n y t h i n g . ten  salaries.  I've  That b r a c e l e t would have cost me  And meanwhile I stood t h e r e and s m i l e d , p l a y e d  the p a r t she'd suddenly f o r c e d on me, t h i n k i n g , Why don't you shake o f f a l l t h i s t a r on you?  Why don't you shout t h a t you  d i d n ' t g i v e h e r anything, t h a t i t must be s i x months s i n c e you've mounted her, yes mounted!?  Why a r e you s t a n d i n g  here  s m i l i n g l i k e some i d i o t i c husband? "You've h u m i l i a t e d me, Mr. Mombelli," said.  the businessman  " J u s t t h i n k ; I never g i v e anything t o my w i f e . " "Shame on you," Ada s a i d s t e r n l y , l o o k i n g a t me w i t h  lovesick  eyes.  So now I wonder:  why i s she so i n t e r e s t e d i n showing  she has a husband who adores her?  Why doesn't  she say, " I  179  earned t h e money f o r i t myself"; why?  That should be more  of a s a t i s f a c t i o n to her. But t h e r e ' s o n l y one answer t o a l l these why's: don't understand  that I  who t h i s woman i s who's been s l e e p i n g next  to me f o r so many y e a r s .  As a matter o f f a c t , I suspect  her o f having had a c h i l d who wasn't mine, o f being u n f a i t h f u l t o me. The businessman repeats t h a t he's h u m i l i a t e d , t h a t h e ' l l have, t o remedy by g i v i n g some j e w e l r y t o h i s woman; and I look a t h i s head and a shudder goes through my body. man has r e d h a i r !  That  H i s f a c e i s pockmarked w i t h f r e c k l e s !  That man,...yes! he l o o k s j u s t l i k e t h e baby who d i e d . . . . I look a t Ada; I l o o k a t him...  The way Ada's s m i l i n g  i n c r e a s e s my c e r t a i n t y , and my anguish.  One t h i n g I used t o  i  reproach Ada about, i n my mind, was h e r standard s m i l e . That she s m i l e d a t everybody t h e same way.  I thought a  woman's smile should undergo t r a n s f o r m a t i o n s , have d i f f e r e n t nuances depending on who she's s m i l i n g a t .  I t got on my  nerves t h a t she smiled a t me t h e same way she s m i l e d a t the g r o c e r w h i l e she was w a i t i n g f o r h e r change. Now I see she has a d i f f e r e n t s m i l e ; h e r smile has nuances I've never seen i n h e r  h e r smile l i n g e r s on...I  see she's r e a l l y b e a u t i f u l w i t h t h a t s m i l e , and i t seems l i k e she knows she's r e a l l y b e a u t i f u l w i t h t h a t s m i l e . I l o o k a t him again:  he's got r e d h a i r , Ada's son's  f a c e ; I can f e e l t h e r e ' s something concrete between them.  180  I  can t e l l I'm r i d i c u l o u s , absurd r i g h t now.  Ada can't  a f f o r d a b r a c e l e t l i k e t h a t w i t h what she makes! And he l o o k s at i t w i t h s a t i s f a c t i o n , the way I used t o l o o k a t a p a i r o f e a r r i n g s I gave h e r so many years ago:  the  same s a t i s f i e d gleam i n h i s eyes. "I'll  have t o g i v e something t o my w i f e t o o , j u s t  you, Mr. Mombelli!"  like  I hear t h e businessman say.  IV.  I'm a t e a c h e r a t the d i s p o s a l o f t h e a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . job  My  c o n s i s t s o f s u b s t i t u t i n g f o r t e a c h e r s who a r e absent, o r  e l s e - i f t h e y ' r e a l l present - t a k i n g care o f b u r e a u c r a t i c a f f a i r s i n the o f f i c e . In  the morning my f i r s t  Z a r z a l l i get i n t o s c h o o l . gangrenous.  j o b i s h e l p i n g my c o l l e a g u e  Z a r z a l l i ' s l e g s are getting  He's t r y i n g t o t e a c h two more years so he can  get t h e minimum p e n s i o n .  He's always a t home, but he has t o  be present a t l e a s t two months a year; o r e l s e the year  doesn't  get counted towards h i s p e n s i o n . Z a r z a l l i comes t o s c h o o l i n a t a x i . him get o u t .  P i s q u a n i and I h e l p  He pays the d r i v e r and mutters, " S i x hundred t o  get here, another s i x hundred t o get home! for  today!"  There goes my pay  Together we help him up the s t a i r s and down t h e  c o r r i d o r , r e s t i n g a f t e r every s t e p .  181  When we get t o h i s classroom,  we h e l p him s i t down i n  his  chair.  him  c o r r e c t o r e x p l a i n o r keep o r d e r . "The  I f I'm not busy s u b s t i t u t i n g somebody, I go h e l p  whole gang's i n here!"  Z a r z a l l i mutters.  "This  p l a c e i s the Shanghai o f the Vigevano school system!" Today when I was h e l p i n g Z a r z a l l i , Amiconi came i n the classroom.  H i s presence i r r i t a t e d Z a r z a l l i .  " T h i s guy comes  to make f u n o f me," he mumbled. Amiconi asked, "Have you heard on the r a d i o whether the Tenth Committee's g o t t e n t h a t  bill...."  "The  r a d i o d i d n ' t say a n y t h i n g , "  I answered.  "But  d i d you l i s t e n t o i t ? " Amiconi  pressed.  "No, I d i d n ' t l i s t e n t o i t ! " I answered w i t t i l y . So Amiconi went t o ask some o t h e r c o l l e a g u e s . d i d n ' t say a t h i n g , " he t o l d me, g i v i n g me a d i r t y During "The  the l a s t hour Z a r z a l l i  started feeling  d i s e a s e . i s p r o g r e s s i n g , " he murmured.  away...."  "The r a d i o look. sick.  " I t ' s r o t t i n g me  He d i d a l l he could t o c o n t a i n h i m s e l f , then b u r s t  out c r y i n g .  "The d i s e a s e i s p r o g r e s s i n g ! . . . .  I t hurts  like  b l a z e s , " he murmured. The k i d s r a i s i n g h e l l , me s t a n d i n g next t o him not knowing what t o do. The  a s s i s t a n t superintendent  so we came t o . . . is it?  came i n .  "We heard  yelling  What's the matter w i t h you, Z a r z a l l i , what  We can't grant you another l e a v e .  One hundred and  twenty days o f absence f o r reasons o f h e a l t h .  Thirtyfor  182  family reasons.  You've had  Z a r z a l l i was bulging.  He was  a l l t h e a b s e n c e s due  s i t t i n g t h e r e w i t h h i s mouth o p e n , h i s e y e s groaning mournfully.  "What's t h e m a t t e r , Z a r z a l l i ? " t e n d e n t went on.  The  "...I'm s t a y i n g , " Z a r z a l l i m i n u t e i t l o o k e d l i k e he was  "Do  the a s s i s t a n t s u p e r i n -  " I f y o u go home we w o n ' t be a b l e t o g i v e  you y o u r t e a c h i n g e v a l u a t i o n .  started groaning  R u l e s , y o u know...."  said i n a whisper.  For  f e e l i n g b e t t e r , but then  a  he  again.  y o u know w h a t t h e E m p e r o r M a r c u s A u r e l i u s ; s a i d ? "  the a s s i s t a n t superintendent asked. the p a i n f u l  ego  Zarzalli he  you!"  cried.  and  fell  you w i l l  " I f you s u f f e r ,  have s u p p r e s s e d  back i n t h e c h a i r .  suppress  the pain."  " I w a n t t o go home!"  H i s hands p r e s s e d h i s t h i g h s , as i f t o a r r e s t  the  disease. " Z a r z a l l i , we  have g r a n t e d you  the a s s i s t a n t superintendent s a i d . g r a d e c l a s s on t h e g r o u n d f l o o r , t h e R u l e s ; we  have l e t you  every p o s s i b l e a s s i s t a n c e , " "We  have put your  going against the s p i r i t of  s i t i n an a r m c h a i r - we  written a dissertation calling  fifth-  who  f o r the a b o l i t i o n of  have  desks,  b e c a u s e t h e t e a c h e r m u s t be i n c o n t a c t w i t h t h e c h i l d r e n ! d i s s e r t a t i o n which examination We  and won  gave us f i f t e e n us  p o i n t s on t h e  commendations from t h r e e  have g r a n t e d you t h e h e l p o f a c o l l e a g u e . . . .  against the r u l e s . . . . shouted.  Z a r z a l l i , we  A  certification pedagogists. We  have,  are t a l k i n g t o you!"  he  183  Z a r z a l l i l a y t h e r e l o o k i n g l i k e he was dead. h i s eyes.  "We are t a l k i n g t o you, Z a r z a l l i . . .  He opened  S h a l l we  grant you another t e a c h e r ? " the a s s i s t a n t superintendent Nanini  came i n t o h e l p .  started saying.  cigarette.  " L i f e ' s a r e a l b a s t a r d ! " he  " I can't wait t o have a classroom  can't wait t o l e a v e h i s ! "  said.  He kept  and he  chewing away a t h i s  " I came t o see i f t h a t c h a r a c t e r Amiconi i s  l e a v i n g ; but he's s t i l l w a i t i n g on t h a t Tenth Committee," he growled. Then he s t a r e d a t the k i d s , who kept on r a i s i n g a d e v i l o f a ruckus.  "That f a n t a s t i c age o f innocence!  The age o f goodness... watched Z a r z a l l i .  Look a t t h a t , " and meanwhile he  " T h e i r h e a r t s a r e strong-boxes o f l o v e . . .  L e t us open these strong-boxes... o f these  Look....  J u s t look a t t h e goodness  children..."  F i n a l l y the l a s t b e l l rang.  While P i s q u a n i and N a n i n i  are h e l p i n g Z a r z a l l i put h i s coat on, P a g l i a n i comes up t o me.  " L e t me help Z a r z a l l i get i n the t a x i , " he says t o me. "I've always helped him!" " I f you g i v e me your p l a c e by Z a r z a l l i , I ' l l  the p h i l a t e l i c  g i v e you  column i n the magazine Hearts On High."  "The p h i l a t e l i c  column?"  "That way you can p u b l i s h a r t i c l e s o f yours, and get your name i n p r i n t ! "  He looked a t me and t r i e d  "Come on, be a good guy!  again.  I t ' s e l e c t i o n time and I'm on the  b a l l o t , and t h e r e ' s a whole crowd o f people  o u t s i d e the  184  school...see!  And b e s i d e s P i s q u a n i ' s h e l p i n g him...."  So I l e t P a g l i a n i help Z a r z a l l i . way  They h e l p him a l l the  out o f s c h o o l , they help him get i n the t a x i , they l o o k  around and see t h i s crowd o f people watching P i s q u a n i comes up to me. Zarzalli?!  Hey,  them.  "Why'd you l e t P a g l i a n i help  whose s i d e are you on, anyway?"  V.  Today I walked a l l a f t e r n o o n .  Ada  came home w i t h a  diamond; she s a i d she gave i t t o h e r s e l f . "You She  r e a l l y think...what  do you t h i n k I am?"  shrugged her s h o u l d e r s .  go ahead.  I f not...."  she shouted,  her.  " I f you want to b e l i e v e  me,  Then she s t a r t e d l a u g h i n g h y s t e r i c a l l y .  " I f you t h i n k so h i g h l y o f me, me?"  I asked  what are you doing here  with  smirking.  I d i d n ' t answer. "I'm mine.  here because the house i s mine.  E v e r y t h i n g here i s mine!" she I thought  the h e l l I was  The  furniture's  said.  about i t i n the e a r l y a f t e r n o o n hours; what doing t h e r e , and I r e g r e t t e d having my  the o n l y v a l i d excuse was  salary:  out.  I s t a r t e d t h i n k i n g about being t h a t g r e a t c y c l i s t  who  p u l v e r i z e s Coppi, and I r e a l i z e d t h a t t h i n k i n g l i k e t h a t l i k e drugs:  as dangerous as t a k i n g drugs.  So I went out  was and  185  walked  a l l day, walked  concert o f machinery,  around the gray d e s e r t e d c i t y . o f pounding  A  hammers reached me from  windows and w a l l s and doors, and I walked  along t h i n k i n g  about how I was walking without a g o a l , how I was w a l k i n g t o kill  I  time, i . e . t o k i l l  a little  o f myself.  Eva came t o mind.  I t was a sudden f l a s h i n g  thought.  s t a r t e d t h i n k i n g about E v a . Who knows where Eva i s ! I needed t o see t h a t woman, and I thought about h e r  w h i l e I walked.  See, I'm n o t w a l k i n g f o r n o t h i n g ; I'm  l o o k i n g f o r Eva, I thought. In  t h e s t o r e s I c o u l d see s t o r e k e e p e r s s t a n d i n g t h e r e  w a i t i n g f o r somebody t o come i n ; That's a j o b t o o , I thought. And meanwhile I kept on w a l k i n g and my f e e t h u r t ; I c o u l d f e e l them s w o l l e n up i n my shoes. I went by t h e P i a z z a and stopped a t t h e Bar.  Varaldi  was s i t t i n g t h e r e , a l l ears f o r what t h e c l i e n t s were s a y i n g . I was dead t i r e d from w a l k i n g .  I f l o p p e d down i n a  c h a i r and p l a y e d a hand, o f g i n rummy w i t h the r e p o r t e r . Meanwhile I watched him, and everybody e l s e .  I t seemed t o  me t h a t people, l o o k e d a t men whose wives a r e u n f a i t h f u l w i t h a s t r a n g e , k i n d o f steady l o o k ; but i t l o o k e d l i k e they were l o o k i n g a t me i n d i f f e r e n t l y .  So I decided they d i d n ' t know  i t yet. I l i n g e r e d over my thoughts. u n f a i t h f u l t o me?  Am I r e a l l y sure Ada's  So what am I doing i n t h a t house?  I  186  t h o u g h t a b o u t h o w my of  s a l a r y was  just  barely  s t a r v a t i o n , b u t n o t enough f o r t h i s " I ' l l  stay,"  I muttered.  c o u r a g e i n my l i f e , "Are I  living,  the  the reporter  asked.  t o myself.  any other  to feel  maybe.  that  discard, pick  the  hours keep going  you're And  feel  I f m a n k i n d a t some p o i n t  felt  must have been  a  them. unfortunately  And I p i c k  and  like  and t a l k .  c a r d s and games, t h e r e  reason f o r inventing I think  do  games?  you're not alone,  things  enough."  To m e e t s o m e b o d y e l s e  need t o invent  me.  " I ' v e performed one a c t o f  o r not?"  a way j u s t l i k e  existing.  But  t a r I have on  f o r a c o u p l e o f h o u r s , t h i n k i n g , What  see i n card  It's  like  you d i s c a r d i n g  played  people  and t h a t ' s  enough t o n o t d i e  a card  a card  I can't  explain  these  and d i s c a r d , p i c k  and d i s c a r d while  a  card  t h e m i n u t e s go b y ,  b y , a n d h e r e I am s i t t i n g  from .  a n o t h e r man w h o ' s w a i t i n g  f o r me  so he c a n p i c k  a  card,  f o rhim t o d i s c a r d so I can pick  .  a  a n d t h e n me w a i t i n g  card:  my t u r n . . . y o u r  to discard  across  turn...my turn...your  turn...  187  VI.  S i x days have gone by. i s walk.  Now  A l l I've done every  t h a t I t h i n k about i t ,  look f o r Eva l i k e I assumed; I was  afternoon  I wasn't w a l k i n g  walking  to  so I c o u l d catch  my w i f e w i t h t h a t red-headed businessman.  Eva was  an excuse.  T h i s a f t e r n o o n I saw my w i f e come out o f the work-shop w i t h the red-headed businessman.  I h i d behind a c o u r t y a r d  door and heard them go by; i n the f o g Ada's steps sounded d r i e r and h e a v i e r :  t a c t a c t a c t a c her steps went.  They went r i g h t by the door without her v o i c e s a y i n g , " I don't know how  s e e i n g me.  I heard  to repay you f o r your  presents!" "The  p l e a s u r e ' s a l l mine!"  "But  you're over-doing i t !  I don't deserve b r a c e l e t s  and r i n g s , " she answered. Then t h e i r v o i c e s , l i k e t h e i r b o d i e s , d i s s o l v e d i n t o fog.  I was  cold; p r a c t i c a l l y paralyzed.  I slapped  the  myself  twice and s t a r t e d w a l k i n g i n t h e i r d i r e c t i o n , t h i n k i n g o f t h a t man  with hate.  But I couldn't t e l l whether the hate  due to the f a c t t h a t he was  e n j o y i n g my w i f e o r t h a t he  made a f o o l o f me w i t h t h a t present I saw  the two  was  had  business.  o f them get i n t o a c a r .  The  tail-lights  l i t up the l i c e n s e p l a t e as the car moved o f f and I managed to read the number. Where c o u l d they go now?, I  thought.  188  I  k e p t on w a l k i n g l i k e  anything.  There  surprised  about.  was  assumed.  I  for a  walked  feeling poor  nothing to think  After  I'd already  a robot, without thinking  all,  about, n o t h i n g t o  I'd just  found out  couple of hours, thinking  s o r r y f o r him.  He  doesn't  about be  something  about  Rino  and  deserve a mother l i k e  this;  Rino! I  three  realized  I must have gone up  and  down t h e same  street  o r f o u r t i m e s a n d I t h o u g h t , meadows p o c k m a r k e d  buttercups!  I f you're  the l o g i c a l  with  smart,  find  connection  and  eyes went t o t h e l i c e n s e  there! I of a I  went by a h o t e l  car.  I was  my  dumbfounded:  r e a d t h e number o v e r s e v e r a l  t h a t was t i m e s and  n o t e p a d w h e r e I ' d m a r k e d i t down: I  looked at the province too:  front  of a  street;  was  one I  i t was  I looked at the p i s t o l s  thought  one,  something  that  a man  calmly. how  you  checked:.it on  that  one  into... the  car a l l right. a l lright!  goods s t o r e  In  'Calm and  to prove  buy  I t was  to myself that  a hammer.  sangfroid,'  couldn't k i l l  There  with mother-of-pearl grips.  whose honor, whose r i g h t s  d e c i d e d t o go  across  i n t h e window....  about what I s h o u l d do.  h a v e t o do  I  got  hotel....  fantastic  I was  c a r Ada  i t xvas t h a t  C a l m l y I went over t o t h e s p o r t i n g the  the  plate  I told  anybody w i t h  a  I was  had  I reasoned  obvious  alive,  been o f f e n d e d . coldly  and  myself, thinking hammer.  I'd  about  189  I  got a nice  head w i t h i t a h a l f  b i g hammer, t h i n k i n g , a dozen times,  I ' l l  h i t him over the  and went back  to the hotel.  Ada's i d e n t i f i c a t i o n c a r d was l y i n g o p e n o n t h e d e s k ; h e r p h o t o g r a p h s m i l e d o u t a t me. "Two l o v e r s c a m e h e r e ! " The said,  slipped  looked  over  five bigbills  at the other  employee and  hotel!"  to him.  "I'd like  a room  near  one where t h e l o v e r s a r e ! " The  "You  desk  clerk  looked  at the other  p r o m i s e me n o t h i n g ' l l "Give  card;  they "You  the  clerk  said.  " S i r , this i s a reputable I  the  desk  I  happen?"  y o u my w o r d ! " I s a i d .  I g a v e t h e m my i d e n t i f i c a t i o n  checked i t a g a i n s t Ada's and  hesitated.  r e a l i z e t h i s i s an awkward s i t u a t i o n f o r u s ,  second one I  employee and s a i d ,  s i r ! "  said.  gave him f i v e t o o ,  a low voice, "First  s o h e g a v e me t h e k e y a n d s a i d i n  f l o o r , room number  twelve."  "Thank y o u ! " "Remember  now..."  "Don't worry," went i n t o I  room, I h e a r d  It's  feeling  room number t w e l v e ,  l a yi n wait  wheezing  I said,  behind  frenzied  thinking,  t h e door.  breathing,  thought.  I  A n d now w h a t ?  Suddenly,  from t h e next  cries, that turned  sound. her a l l right, I  strangely contented.  into  a  190  The wheezing went on.  Ada used t o shout d u r i n g s e x u a l  r e l a t i o n s ; she'd shout w i t h p l e a s u r e , l i k e now...  Ada used  t o wheeze...  man,  R i g h t now  she's naked i n bed w i t h a  e n j o y i n g each o t h e r , and here I am s t a n d i n g here w i t h a hammer i n my hand; here I am s t a n d i n g here and I'm s t a n d i n g here and I t h i n k about how The wheezing  stopped.  still  t h a t wheezing i s Ada...  There was  s i l e n c e f o r a minute.  I got ready w i t h the hammer i n my hand, but then the s t a r t e d up a g a i n . . .  I b i t my l i p s .  I was  wheezing  jealous of that  man's v i r i l i t y , o f h i s potency... I s h o u l d have known i t , I thought; Ada's a hot-blooded woman.  That thought calmed me down; i t was  an excuse f o r me  more than f o r h e r . And meanwhile the wheezing went on, and I could hear her greed, I c o u l d hear she was  enjoying i t , again again again  again.•• I walked around t h e room; I put my f i n g e r s i n my e a r s , but the wheezing  still  seeped through; i t wasn't w i t h my  t h a t I was h e a r i n g t h a t wheezing. is  with a  My w i f e , I t h i n k .  ears  My w i f e  man.  I touched my moldy, s h r i v e l e d member and laughed i n a low v o i c e .  ' I t ' s good f o r peeing and t h a t ' s i t , ' I s a i d t o  myself. I f l u n g myself on t h e bed and s t a r e d a t the r e c t a n g l e of the window r e f l e c t e d onto the  ceiling.  191  Again... really her  That wheezing again,  be i n l o v e w i t h  too.  t h a t man,  The t h o u g h t p l e a s e d  again...  She  must  and he must be i n l o v e  me.  A tarred  with  pleasure.  Again... I  could  feel  the tears  o n e r e a c h e d my l i p s ; could  tell  oblique; the  connection room.  of your p o s i t i o n ? Nov/, s a t i s f i e d  O r maybe n o t .  going  cheeks;  by.  Right sexual  I  g e t t i n g more  T h e r e was  and s a t i a t e d ,  They'll l i e there  Ada'11 s t a r e a t h i s t o e s . The w h e e z i n g  his  Time was  d o w n my  a n d I t h o u g h t , What a r e y o u t h i n k i n g a b o u t ?  from the other  and  salty.  sliding  b y t h e shadow o f t h e window, t h a t was  logical  leave.  i t was  running,  holding  About silence  they'll  each  That's what t h e y ' l l  other,  do...  again...  then I didn't power.  hate Ada; I hated  t h e man.  And t h e w h e e z i n g k e p t g o i n g  I  hated  on a g a i n  again  again... The room was silhouetted by  against  the walls.  shadows o f t h e f u r n i t u r e w e r e I  could  hear a maid s h u f f l e  i n the corridor. I  t h o u g h t about what t h e two employees w o u l d  knowing t h e wife's the  g e t t i n g dark;  i n room number  eleven  husband's h e r e i n number t w e l v e  staring  into  space w i t h  with  sprawled  h e r l o v e r and on t h e bed  a hammer i n h i s h a n d , n o t  anything. The w h e e z i n g went o n . . .  think,  doing  192  It It  was  r e m i n d e d me  T h a t ' s how He's I  an  can  than  o f Ada  of  during  the  made l o v e , w i t h  muttering...  I  first  this  can't  nights  intense  tell  before.  our  marriage.  wheezing...  what he's  saying,  but  guess... It's  Since less  she  i n t e n s e w h e e z i n g , more i n t e n s e  years  i t got alive,  since  to  be  she's enjoyed i t l i k e  a h a b i t , her  l e s s and  wheezing's gotten  less natural.  Again...  less  Sometimes i t seems  s h e ' s f o r c i n g h e r s e l f t o make t h o s e Again...  t h a t w i t h me. ' and like  noises...  I t keeps going  on...  I hear footsteps i n the  other  VII.  ...There! I I  get  think  Ada  hard  head...  ready at  over the Right  effect  m i n u t e s go The getting Ada  used  door, with  t h a t I won't squeeze the  then I f e l t  and  I'm  like  to  do  how  an  s t i l l  hand,  and  I ' l l hit over  the  actor; l i k e  there  rehearsal.  Maybe t h a t  were  there.  was  Five  waiting. I  she's l i n g e r i n g  t h a t w i t h me  but  redhead hard  e m p l o y e e s k n e w I was  wheezings have stopped. dressed,  h a m m e r i n my  handle hard,  watching the  of knowing the by  the  head, I ' l l h i t the  p e o p l e l o o k i n g a t me, the  the  room.  too,  the  t h i n k a b o u t how over getting first  few  they're dressed.  years..  193  T h a t w i t h me t o o s o u n d s s t r a n g e .  With  me t o o . . .  I  hear footsteps. "The  grandfather  "He j u s t I  has died," a voice  died," another  voice  s e e tv/o n u n s a n d a d o c t o r  eleven,  and glimpse  "He's clutched  d..." i n my  said.  said. come o u t o f r o o m  a n o l d man l y i n g  number  on t h ebed.  T h e woman b r o k e o f f , s e e i n g t h e hammer  hand.  "A w h o l e a f t e r n o o n  a t t h e point o f death!"  the doctor  said. I  go d o w n s t a i r s .  Outside, We'll  The employees l o o k  t h e c a r was  settle  this  a t me  slyly.  gone.  a t home, I t h i n k .  I h o l d t h e hammer  t i g h t l y u n d e r my j a c k e t ; I s e t o f f f o r home s l o w l y , my s t e p s . that,  I took  i n that I  stopped  a strange  i n front  limp  like  A neighbor  at a picture  o f ours  " Y o u r w i f e ' s i n a b a d way!  We  motioned been  f o r y o u e v e r y w h e r e ; we b e e n l o o k i n g f r o m h e r e t o  K i n g d o m Come; y o u r  priate  o f a newsstand t o look  Then I went o n .  t o me t o r u n t o h e r .  I  i nwalking  interim.  of an a c t r e s s .  looking  kind of pleasure  relishing  r a n home.  w i f e ' s i n a b a d way..." I found  Father Licodori  expression and a doctor  shaking  wearing  an appro-  h i shead, and Rino,  as a r a g . "She  wants t o speak t o y o u , " F a t h e r L i c o d o r i  told  me.  194  Ada joyful  was  dying.  a i r , that  She  moved  "Antonio...I've Antonio...always, Antonio...the he's  had  a  radiant  c o l o r i n g , almost  me.  always been u n f a i t h f u l to  since  a  the  first  red-headed son  yours...Antonio...it's  few  days of  i s yours. Rino  that  I  you... our  marriage...  swear to  isn't  you...  yours..."  "What?" "...Really...Rino  isn't  yours...he i s n ' t  yours..."  "Huh?" She face  shook her  sank i n t o the "Ada?" I She  effort,  head no.  p i l l o w ; her  murmured.  body gave o f f a  Her  smell...  shouted.  opened her and  "...No..." she  her  half-sarcastic  face smile  eyes.  "Rino's not  went h a r d  and  yours!"  cold.  l i n g e r e d i n the  A  she  said  with  half-ironic,  a i r above  her.  VIII.  I  keep t h i n k i n g about Eva.  about her,  I'm  T h a t ' s how  I d i s p e l the  impossible  that  that  confession  letters act  fall  t h i n k i n g about being  was  w h e n I'm  my  son.  a vendetta that  everybody e l s e .  on  left  I  me  t r y to  Ada's p a r t ;  make t h e  not  thinking  the r o c k e t - c y c l i s t .  s u s p i c i o n Ada  Rino i s n ' t  suicides leave on  And  with. convince like  responsibility  That k i n d  of  It  vendetta.  seems  myself  those for  their  195  L i f e drags on from t h e twenty-seventh t o t h e twentyseventh, when I go p i c k up t h a t column o f items t h a t , summed up, make up a s a l a r y . Item:  regular hours.  study allowance.  Item:  Item:  overtime pay.  examination allowance.  Item: But so  what; a man's v a l i d not f o r what he earns but what he knows. That's a c l i c h e we k i c k around among c o l l e a g u e s l i k e p l a y e r s k i c k t h e b a l l around.  soccer  U n f o r t u n a t e l y now a new  c o l l e a g u e ' s come, who m a i n t a i n s t h a t a man's v a l i d n o t f o r what he knows but what he c a r r i e s o u t .  H i s presence i s  becoming h a t e f u l t o everybody i n t h e s c h o o l .  Materialist!  "I'm n o t a m a t e r i a l i s t ; I'm a p o s i t i v i s t ! " he defends himself. T h i s morning I gave an a c t i v e s c i e n c e l e s s o n w i t h t h e a s s i s t a n t s u p e r i n t e n d e n t , who'd come t o judge whether I'm q u a l i f i e d f o r t e a c h i n g o r n o t , watching. I  d i v i d e d t h e c l a s s i n t o t h r e e groups.  The f i r s t  group  was supposed t o make t h e n o i s e w e l l - s t r e s s e d and l o u d , o f a hatchet against a t r e e : Tac pause t a c pause t a c pause t a c pause t a c pause. The second group came i n o v e r t h e f i r s t  group's n o i s e  and blended i t s e l f i n , i m i t a t i n g t h e woodcutter's saw: Zzzzzz (Drawn-out  Zzzzzz  Zzzzzz  Zzzzzz  Zzzzzz  w i t h no pauses f o r s i l e n c e ) .  Zzzzzz  Zzzzzz  196  The t h i r d group came i n over the o t h e r Wo,  shouting,  "Watch out!" I broke i n , "Look up a t t h e imaginary f o l i a g e o f t h e tree!"  And everybody l o o k e d s i l e n t l y a t t h e c e i l i n g .  The t h i r d group made, f i r s t  s o f t l y and s l o w l y , then i n  crescendo u n t i l i t became a shout, t h e sound o f t h e t r e e f a l l i n g and t h e trunk c r a c k i n g . crrrrrr  crrrrrr  crrrrrrrr  crrrrrrrrrr  crrrrrrrrrrrr  KRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKKKKKKKKKK "Pay a t t e n t i o n t o the crescendo I s a i d , "and t h e p l o t and a c t i o n .  and the diminuendo," Plot:  t h e g r e a t t r e e on  the mountain s l o w l y moves i t s l e a v e s i n the s o f t The p u p i l s got t h e a c t i o n going: hands a g a i n s t each o t h e r and,  Plot:  and suddenly the storm n e a r s . shaking the  t h e y rubbed t h e i r  simultaneously, with  mouths made t h e n o i s e o f a s o f t "Pay a t t e n t i o n !  breeze."  their  rustling.  t h e s k y darkens, and q u i c k l y F i r s t the wind blows harder,  branches."  The k i d s made megaphones w i t h t h e i r hands, making t h e n o i s e o f the wind, i n crescendo: uuuuuuu  uuuuuuuuuuuuuuu  UUUUHHHUU.UUHHH  H a l f o f them went on making the r u s t l i n g o f the l e a v e s , l o u d e r and l o u d e r :  sh s h s h sh s h sh SH SH SH SH SH SH SH SH  "Pay a t t e n t i o n ! now  Plot:  thunder,  f a r away a t f i r s t ,  echoes r i g h t over the mountain!" I s a i d .  197  All  the k i d s , w i t h t h e i r hands pressed  over t h e i r  mouths, make the rumbling of thunder. "Pay  attention!  Plot:  v i o l e n t r a i n thrashes  the  l e a v e s and branches of the g r e a t t r e e . " The k i d s c l a p t h e i r hands, w i t h t h e i r f i n g e r s apart.  Meanwhile w i t h t h e i r mouths they make the  chak o f the r a i n d r o p s  on the l e a v e s and trunk.  spread chik  Chik chak,  chik chak. "Plot:  the storm passes; a rainbow o u t l i n e s i t s e l f  i n the newly serene  sky."  The k i d s s t r e t c h t h e i r arms i n - t h e a i r and t r a c e h a l f - c i r c l e o f a rainbow, w i t h an ahhh! o f wonder! "Pay little  attention:  the  Ahhhh!  among the t r e e ' s l e a f y branches the  b i r d s shake t h e i r f e a t h e r s to d r y o f f . "  The k i d s i m i t a t e the c h a t t e r i n g o f the l i t t l e  birds.  Cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep.  IX.  My  colleague D r l v a u d i i s on her l a s t pay i n c r e a s e  the l a s t p o i n t t o t a l .  She's about t o r e t i r e .  of  What makes me  f e e l so s m a l l i n f r o n t o f her i s the f a c t t h a t she's o n l y a couple o f years o l d e r than me, i n c r e a s e o f the f i r s t p o i n t  and I'm  total.  at the f i r s t  pay  198  "Mombelli, this  morning.  man... that  you "Nov/  outwardly expect  collar  I  don't  really....;  respect the  temple  others to respect  I'm  t o me  you'll  me  but  a  c r i t i c i z e you,  i f we  aren't the  but  first  o f e d u c a t i o n , t h e n how  thought.  D r i v a u d i went on,  and  told  herself,  want t o  and  she  to  can  we  us?"  going to scream, I  "Mombelli,"  yourself,"  a woman c a n l i v e b y  Look, Mombelli,  shirt  Listen  can't l i v e by  be  just  And  "you  said,  "Right!"  need a w i f e .  fine,. Mombelli!"  "Right!" "There's your  a girl,  situation!  she's  got  She's f i v e  certification!  on  the l a s t  pay  one  person  lives  Your s a l a r i e s in  Mombelli;  his sixth  years  who's j u s t  younger than  perfect for  you.  Listen,  She's a l r e a d y a t p o i n t t o t a l  increase! b a d l y ; on  added up  a girl  You  k n o w how  two  salaries,  would  equal  the  i t i s :  on  222,  one  two  people  salary  of a  salary,  live  well.  principal  year!"  "Right!" "Oh, Moral,  and  i f you  r e a l l y moral.  religion;  really,  knew what t h i s She  l i t t l e teacher's l i k e !  goes t o Mass e v e r y day;  a jewel!  A  jewel, Mombelli,  a  she  teaches  doll!"  "Really?" "And but at  -  the  she's  the l a s t  an  family's well-off. only daughter,  point total.  o n l y daughter!  And  Rino  Not  e n o u g h t o be  Mombelli!  Marry  the  too; start  Listen  extravagant,  t o me.  o n l y daughter! impressing that  Marry  I'm the  principle  199  on him now when he's s t i l l  a boy - t o marry t h e o n l y  daughter!" "Yes, yes!" "Think about i t , M o m b e l l i .  She's such a dear g i r l !  J u s t t h i n k ; she has h e r own house and t h e l a n d behind i t i s a possible building s i t e .  Her parents a r e farmers.  They've  got f o u r cows, about f i f t y chickens; and every year t h e y butcher a p i g ! " She t u r n e d r e d and went on, "Do you r e a l i z e how much you'd be g e t t i n g i n December?  Two s a l a r i e s each; t h a t ' s  f o u r s a l a r i e s . . . a n d t h a t ' s not counting t h e r e s t . . . . w e l l ? " "I'll  t a l k t o Rino," I s a i d m e c h a n i c a l l y .  My c o l l e a g u e ' s f a c e darkened. stand these t h i n g s !  "No!  K i d s don't  under-  What does Rino have t o do w i t h i t ?  B e s i d e s , i f t h i s g i r l i s w i l l i n g t o marry a widower w i t h a son, t h a t means she's...  A j e w e l , Mombelli, I'm t e l l i n g  you; a d o l l ! " !'I heard you!" She l e t h e r gaze f a l l on my shabby s u i t , my s c u f f e d shoes.  "Do you want t o see h e r p i c t u r e ? "  p i c t u r e out o f h e r purse:  She p u l l e d a  I saw t h i s b i g f a t f a c e , n i c e  and plump, w i t h a c h e e r f u l s m i l e .  "A n i c e b i g b r i d e !  Look  at what a n i c e b i g b r i d e ! " She winked a t me. daughter!"  "Can I s e t i t up?  She's an o n l y  200  X.  Teachers' meeting The  principal/assistant superintendent "We  are i n favor  after-school say  recreational  to the  students be e x a c t )  while  afternoons. practice  and an a r t i c l e explains  that  activities.  spoke.  o f what i s r e f e r r e d  activities,  c a n n o t be p u t i n t o the  today about a f t e r - s c h o o l  i twould  t o i n c o r r e c t l y as  be more p r e c i s e  However, t h i s u s e f u l  institution  as t h e afternoon i s paid of the Rules  to  (Article  f o r by  Eighteen,  t e a c h e r s may n o t r e c e i v e  sums  from  students." Bragaglia  stood up.  " B u t t h e new l e g a l s t a t u s  no  longer mentions t h i s f a c t . . . " "We  are s t i l l  Amiconi  stood up.  approved t h e Tenth Bragaglia pay  s t o o d up a g a i n .  "...for benevolent  ...Not  afternoon,"  they've  yet?....Oh!"  "I p r o p o s e t h a t  f o rthe after-school  the recreational  superintendent  status!"  "Has anyone h e a r d w h e t h e r  Committee's b i l l ?  their contributions "...for  the  under the o l d l e g a l  the students  activities..."  the assistant  corrected.  the recreational  fund, which w i l l  afternoon to the pupils'  then pay the contributions  to  teachers!" The  assistant  superintendent  raised  pleased t o acknowledge your j u r i d i c a l  a finger.  subtlety!"  he  "We  are  said.  /  201  So I  t h a t ' s how  collect  fund and  the  the k i d s '  and  pay  gives  r e c r e a t i o n a l afternoons  contributions f o r the  them i n t o  them back t o  Nanini  takes  the  fund.  got  started.  pupils'  benevolent  YJhich changes  envelopes  me.  Amiconi's  class f o r the a f t e r ^ s c h o o l  activities. "I said,  d o n ' t w a n t a n y b o d y e l s e t e a c h i n g my  "and "But  told  I'm  Nanini  pressed  c l a s s e s he  activities? my  has  boycott  this  recreational afternoon!"  t o make a l i v i n g  has  You  his lips  to take  think I  commendation from the  Boycott!"  he  started  W h i l e I was in  to  Amiconi  too!"  the  colleagues  him. Amiconi  the  going  class,"  and  given  a s k e d me  together  angrily.  mine f o r these  sovereign  of a l l  after-school  d o n ' t remember what he great  "And  of  said  about  Antioch?  yelling.  teaching  my  i f I k n e w how  after-school class, to  solve the  Nanini  problem  came  Amiconi'd  f o r homework. My  God,  come e v e n i n g  was we  that problem were s t i l l  complicated.  sitting  there  Moral  trying  of the  to  story:  figure i t  out. "And  he  compositions  gave them f i f t y and  a r i t h m e t i c p r o b l e m s and  a whole paragraph to diagram!"  two  Nanini  muttered. The called  next  the  day  Amiconi  started a  a s s i s t a n t superintendent  devil and  of  an  uproar.  said Nanini  was  He  202  ruining h i s c l a s s , destroying h i s educational  endeavor.  "Nothing i s c r e a t e d and n o t h i n g i s d e s t r o y e d , " a s s i s t a n t superintendent  the  sentenced.  Amiconi ..kept on a s s i g n i n g p i l e s o f homework and complicated  problems.  "Boycott!"  he y e l l e d .  Fewer and  fewer k i d s went to N a n i n i * s a f t e r - s c h o o l c l a s s , and news o f the dumb t e a c h e r spread. even know how Nanini  who  s a i d , "Nanini i s on the s i d e o f the  Q u i e t a non movere et mota q u i e t a r e , Amiconi." day N a n i n i was  g r a p p l i n g w i t h a problem t h a t  couldn't have been more complicated me,"  he h i s s e d .  and  contorted.  "He's  Then he shouted, " C h i l d r e n :  the f o l l o w i n g d i c t a t i o n , and watch your l o o p s . 'The  don't  complained to the a s s i s t a n t superintendent,  U n t i l one  boycotted  He  to do problems," the p u p i l s ' f a m i l i e s commented.  c a l l e d Amiconi i n and ungodly.  "What k i n d a teacher!  W i l l o f an Educator.'  write  It's entitled  'I hope f o r Amiconi t o k i c k  bucket the minute he draws h i s f i r s t Group A pension  the  check,'"  he d i c t a t e d , a r t i c u l a t i n g . He l o o k e d around i r o n i c a l l y , and s p i t on the f l o o r then the walls,.  and  "There's my l o v e f o r the s c h o o l ! " he s a i d .  Then he h i d behind  the blackboard  "I've l o v e d the k i d s the way He l e f t w i t h a t w i s t e d  you  and p i s s e d . could l o v e  Then he s a i d ,  shit!"  smile.  A few hours l a t e r they found him on the r a i l r o a d t r a c k s , beyond r e c o g n i t i o n .  203  " I t was an a c c i d e n t , " t h e a s s i s t a n t  superintendent  s a i d , and a l l t h e c o l l e a g u e s passed t h e word:  accident!  "Don't d i s c r e d i t t h e w o r t h y p r o f e s s i o n o f t e a c h i n g , " t h e a s s i s t a n t superintendent  implored the reporter.  Who  dedicated  one o f h i s l i t t l e s t o r i e s t o N a n i n i . "An Nanini.  a c c i d e n t has c u t s h o r t t h e l i f e o f t h e e d u c a t o r Janitor!  I ask you t o do something you cannot do;  b u t , I p r a y you, j a n i t o r , do i t .  J a n i t o r , when t h e l e s s o n s  s t a r t , l e a v e t h e main door o f t h e s c h o o l open.  For Nanini  must e n t e r ; and i t w i l l be t h e f i r s t t i m e t h a t he i s l a t e . Yes, S c h o o l t e a c h e r  N a n i n i wants t o come see t h e c h i l d r e n he  l o v e d so much, t h e c o l l e a g u e s he so much admired, h i s principal.  J a n i t o r , p l e a s e , l e a v e t h e main door open.  N a n i n i wants t o r e t u r n t o h i s w o n d e r f u l  Kingdom:  the school!"  XI.  I've met t h e t e a c h e r / o n l y d a u g h t e r .  Her name's Rosa and  she's even f a t t e r t h a n t h e p i c t u r e s u g g e s t e d . f l a c c i d body and b i g b r e a s t s . thigh.  She's g o t a  D r i v a u d i p l a c e d my hand on h e r  " J u s t f e e l how s o l i d and r o b u s t t h a t i s ! " she s a i d .  She'd found some excuse t o b r i n g h e r o v e r t o my house. Rosa saw t h e mess we l i v e i n and p u t e v e r y t h i n g i n o r d e r . Her p r e s e n c e made me uneasy.  D r i v a u d i e x p l a i n e d t o me t h a t  Rosa had some s a v i n g s - b e s i d e s t h e r e s t , o f course - some  204  savings  she'd accumulated g i v i n g p r i v a t e l e s s o n s .  "She's  c a p a b l e o f good h a r d work," s h e s a i d . Rino looked  askance a t h e r .  "Wouldn't y o u l i k e h a v i n g Drivaudi  a s e c o n d mamma l i k e  Rosa?"  asked.  H i s head l o w e r e d , R i n u c c i o  s a i d , "I'm n o t s t u d y i n g  anymore!" "But, "I'm he  Rinuccio!" not studying  said stubbornly.  anymore!  " K i d s ! " she s a i d .  s e t t l e d , then h e ' l l "I  lady,"  He r a n t o h i s room.  Drivaudi winked. all  I don't want t h a t  "When h e f i n d s i t  change h i s mind!"  can't r i s k i t , " I s a i d .  " I w a n t R i n o t o become a  G r o u p A." They l e f t over again;  coldly.  At t h e door Drivaudi  s a i d , "Think i t  Rosa's p a t i e n t ! "  I w a s n ' t e n t h u s i a s t i c a b o u t t h e woman, b u t we n e e d e d a woman i n t h e h o u s e . seemed s t r a n g e  I went and e x p l a i n e d t h a t t o R i n o .  t o me t h a t I , h i s f a t h e r , s h o u l d  explain that proposal n e e d a woman!  t o him,  mortified.  have t o  "See,Rino,  Keeping t h e house i n o r d e r takes  I t  we  precious  t i m e away f r o m y o u r s t u d y i n g , a n d t h e ' o r d e r ' we k e e p i s something e l s e  again!"  R i n o l o w e r e d h i s h e a d , " A r e y o u mad, p a p a ? " me.  He h u g g e d  " I d o n ' t w a n t h e r , p a p a ; I d o n ' t w a n t t h a t l a d y i n my  house!"  205  I went o u t and l i s t e n e d a t h i s door f o r a m i n u t e .  I  could hear him c r y i n g . Then I went t o s c h o o l .  Filippi  d i s c u s s i n g whether education "It's  and P i s q u a n i were  i s science o r a r t .  science; l i k e medicine,  p h y s i c s , a s t r o l o g y ! " one  was s a y i n g . "It's art.  L i k e music, p a i n t i n g , s c u l p t u r e ! " t h e other  contradicted him. They s u b m i t t e d intendent.  t h e i r problem t o t h e a s s i s t a n t  The a s s i s t a n t s u p e r i n t e n d e n t  said,  super-  "Education  i s a s y n t h e s i s o f s c i e n c e and a r t ! " "So w e ' r e a r t i s t s a n d s c i e n t i s t s a t t h e same Cipollone  time?"  asked.  "Of c o u r s e , "  Pisquani  answered.  We a l l r u b b e d o u r h a n d s , s a t i s f i e d w i t h A f t e r some more d i s c u s s i o n , a n o t h e r q u e s t i o n whether education  arose  ourselves. came u p . I . e .  before p r o s t i t u t i o n o r , v i c e  whether p r o s t i t u t i o n arose  before  versa,  education.  " P r o s t i t u t i o n was b o r n w i t h man," P a g l i a n i s a i d . "That's n o t t r u e .  Education  p r o s t i t u t i o n was b o r n w i t h woman.  was b o r n w i t h man, b u t A n d s i n c e man was c r e a t e d  b e f o r e woman, i t f o l l o w s t h a t e d u c a t i o n  existed  before  prostitution!" P a g l i a n i thought t h a t over while Pisquani played t h e smart-aleck.  Socratic reasoning,  he bragged.  2G6  "You  win, but not f o r l o n g , " P a g l i a n i muttered,  mo r t i f i ed.  He r e a c t e d qui c k l y •  " P i s q u a n i , you know you aren't l e a d e r o f t h e f i r s t c o r r i d o r anymore!  Really!  Now t h e y ' r e  fiduciaries."  called  They've a b o l i s h e d l e a d e r s .  " I t can't be," P i s q u a n i s a i d . "The  new l e g a l s t a t u s says s o . "  "I'm  leader!"  "Fiduciary!  Leaders c r e a t e h i e r a r c h i e s .  You're a  f i d u c i a r y , i . e . . . a man t o be t r u s t e d . . . " " S u t o r , non u l t r a crepidam!" P i s q u a n i "Fiduciary!  snarled.  Hm, b e i n g a f i d u c i a r y w i t h no money  around; k i n d o f s t r a n g e ! " " W i l l you q u i t c a l l i n g me a f i d u c i a r y ? " "So why d i d you s a y s u t o r , non u l t r a crepidam t o me?" The b e l l rang. begin.  The pedagogical  The pedagogical  c o t e r i e was about t o  c o t e r i e was a weekly t e a c h e r s '  meeting d e a l i n g w i t h d i d a c t i c / p e d a g o g i c a l / p h i l o s o p h i c a l experiences. Somebody who l o o k e d l i k e t h e y were on t h e i r second o r t h i r d pay i n c r e a s e o f 229 stood up. "I've been a b l e t o prove s c i e n t i f i c a l l y t h e e x i s t e n c e o f God!" he s a i d . "Don't prove t h e a l r e a d y proven!" an o l d e r woman a t t h e o t h e r end o f t h e p o i n t t o t a l s shouted.  207  " I want t o prove i t f o r people who T h e y ' l l b e l i e v e ! " the c o l l e a g u e I take an a t h e i s t who "We'd  said.  don't b e l i e v e . "Here's the  proof.  doesn't b e l i e v e i n God..."  l i k e t o see an a t h e i s t who  does b e l i e v e i n  God!"  the a s s i s t a n t superintendent i n t e r r u p t e d . "...and I say t o t h i s a t h e i s t , 'Do and two  are f o u r ? * And  o f circumstances!' two,  then why  you b e l i e v e  the a t h e i s t answers me,  So I say,  'By  two force  ' I f you b e l i e v e i n the number  won't you b e l i e v e i n God?'"  He l o o k e d  around, maybe expecting  C i p o l l o n e shook h i s head. " E x p l a i n your way  encouragement, but  " I know a b e t t e r way!"  f o r us,"  he s a i d .  the a s s i s t a n t superintendent  said. C i p o l l o n e stood up. started saying. three?  Nothing!  "And And  "What i s a drop?  what are two  drops?  Nothing," Nothing.  he And  f o u r , f i v e , s i x drops; what are  they?..." "...Nothing!" a l l the c o l l e a g u e s "And  yet drop upon drop, and  shouted.  you have r i v e r s seas  oceans!" C i p o l l o n e f i n i s h e d . "Wait a minute!" P i s q u a n i y e l l e d . a l l t h a t a drop's a nothing! contains an  a thousand b a c t e r i a , we  everything!" "A "An  I f we  nothing!" everything!"  " I t ' s not t r u e at  t h i n k about how  a drop  have to agree t h a t a drop's  208  The a s s i s t a n t superintendent i n t e r v e n e d . v i r t u s , " he s a i d . thing!  " I n medio s t a t  "A drop i s n e i t h e r a n o t h i n g n o r an e v e r y -  L e t us repeat, i n medio s t a t v i r t u s ; v i r t u e l i e s i n  compromise.  A drop..."  "Is a nothing!" C i p o l l o n e y e l l e d . " I s an e v e r y t h i n g ! " P i s q u a n i r e t o r t e d . "A drop i s n e i t h e r a n o t h i n g n o r an e v e r y t h i n g , b u t . . . a drop!" t h e a s s i s t a n t superintendent The meeting c o n t i n u e d .  said.  A teacher with a night-school  c l a s s o f young workers gave a r e p o r t . "My s t u d e n t s , " he s a i d w i t h an a f f l i c t e d a i r , " a r e t o t a l l y hopeless. boxing.  They take t h e T.V. by storm when t h e r e ' s  When t h e r e ' s a quiz show.  They d e s e r t i t when t h e r e  are p l a y s o r c u l t u r a l programs l i k e P r o f e s s o r C u t o l o ' s show. But l a s t F r i d a y I managed t o get them t o enjoy E u r i p i d e s ' Troades.  A f t e r t h e show t h e r e was a d i s c u s s i o n , d i r e c t e d  and l e d by myself, which was q u i t e f r u i t f u l . . . " Then another t e a c h e r w i t h a n i g h t - s c h o o l c l a s s o f d e l i v e r y boys and a p p r e n t i c e s stood up.  "My students can't  wait t o t u r n e i g h t e e n so they can go t o c e r t a i n houses..." The women-teachers turned r e d .  The t e a c h e r went on,  "...And t h e y ' r e almost a l l communists!" "Libera  nost  Domine," t h e women-teachers s a i d i n chorus,  as i f s a y i n g t h e i r r o s a r y . "They come t o s c h o o l t o pass time, but t h e y ' r e i n d i f f e r e n t about c u l t u r e .  We read them, t o g i v e an example,  209  t h e passage, " F a r e w e l l , ye mountains, r i s i n g from  the  waters...." "...and p o i n t i n g t o the heavens!..." the a s s i s t a n t superintendent f i n i s h e d w i t h a f l o u r i s h o f h i s hand, as i f he were h e a r i n g music. "And  y e t , I saw w i t h my  own  eyes students yawning!"  the t e a c h e r s a i d . "No?!" a 371 "I'm  yelled.  a f r a i d so!" the n i g h t - s c h o o l t e a c h e r s a i d d e s o l a t e l y .  The atmosphere grew s a d . Then one who  taught i n a t i n y hamlet o u t s i d e o f Vigevano  spoke up, and s t a r t e d d e s c r i b i n g the p l a c e l i k e "They don't  say t h e Lord's  Prayer!..."  " C h r i s t o n l y got as f a r as Vigevano," superintendent  this:  the a s s i s t a n t  said.  " I f o n l y he had!"  a woman-teacher a t the l a s t p o i n t  t o t a l r e t o r t e d . "The banner o f t h e b a r b a r i a n s wouldn't be waving from the Bramant Tower!" "You're c a l l i n g t h e most c i v i l i z e d people i n the world barbarians!" Pisquani y e l l e d .  " S i r , my  offended my moral sentiments.  I appeal t o the C o n s t i t u t i o n ! "  "And  he's offended my  sentiments  C a t h o l i c , " the l a s t p o i n t t o t a l  c o l l e a g u e has  as a Roman A p o s t o l i c  retorted.  " Q u i e t a non movere et mota q u i e t a r e , " the a s s i s t a n t superintendent  said.  210  Then the s u b s t i t u t e s went on t a l k i n g about t h e i r experiences w i t h the w o r k e r s , people's and farmers' 1  night-  school c l a s s e s . The  a s s i s t a n t superintendent  stood up.  "We  can under-  stand your s t a t e o f mind, you who  are the dearest hope of the  school!  One  But l e t us not d e s p a i r !  us an answer which moved u s . to school?'  Do  We  o f your students  asked him,  'Why  gave  do you come  you know what he answered us?"  "What d i d he answer you?" a chorus o f v o i c e s asked. "He  gave us an answer which moved u s .  'I come t o s c h o o l so I can t e a c h my  He answered us,  c h i l d r e n t o read  and  write'!" A thoughtful silence  followed...  XII.  One  o f the young n i g h t - s c h o o l t e a c h e r s s a i d , " S i r , I  get t h r e e thousand l i r e a year, d u r i n g o r a l exams, f o r each student who  passes.  they won't g i v e me  I have twenty students t h i s year p e r m i s s i o n t o examine a l l o f them.  and I'm  a s k i n g the union t o i n t e r v e n e . . . " P i s q u a n i stood up. night-school teachers kilometers..."  "S.N.E.E.Z.E. has o b t a i n e d f o r you  a 30$  r a i l r o a d d i s c o u n t f o r a thousand  211  "S.N.O.O.Z.E.," P a g l i a n i y e l l e d , "has o b t a i n e d bOfi d i s c o u n t f o r two thousand k i l o m e t e r s ! " "That t h r e e thousand l i r e p e r student who passes was a S.N.E.E.Z.E. v i c t o r y , " P i s q u a n i y e l l e d . two  " B e f o r e , i t was  thousand!" P a g l i a n i was s i l e n t .  P i s q u a n i rubbed h i s hands.  "Now I ' l l f i x you," P a g l i a n i s a i d , l o o k i n g a t t h e o t h e r union l e a d e r .  " S i r , on b e h a l f o f myself and o f t h e u n i o n I  r e p r e s e n t , I ask you a f a v o r .  I appeal t o your sense o f  humanity as a husband and a f a t h e r , b e s i d e s as an educator! These k i d s make a l o t o f s a c r i f i c e s t o t e a c h n i g h t - s c h o o l . Did  you a l l hear?  Three thousand l i r e p e r student who passes!  Now, t h e y do t h i s i n o r d e r t o get enough p o i n t s t o one day be on t h e permanent s t a f f .  S i r , g i v e them a l l e x c e l l e n t s  on t h e i r e v a l u a t i o n s ! " The a s s i s t a n t superintendent put h i s hands on h i s head. "An  e x c e l l e n t i s worth two p o i n t s ; a v e r y good one and  a h a l f ; present them w i t h t h a t h a l f p o i n t t h a t ' l l h e l p them become permanent s t a f f , " P a g l i a n i went on. The a s s i s t a n t superintendent stood up.  "We  understand  you s t a t e o f mind and observe t h e g e n e r o s i t y which has d r i v e n you t o speak.  However, my dear c o l l e a g u e s , i f we  s t a r t g i v i n g e x c e l l e n t s t o these young people, then what s h a l l we g i v e them when t h e y a r e t r u e educators?" " T h i s i s an a f f r o n t t o our p a s t as educators," a woman at  the l a s t point t o t a l s a i d .  " E i t h e r t h e union l e a d e r takes  212  back t h a t p r o p o s a l , o r we q u i t t h e union!" " Q u i e t a non movere et mota q u i e t a r e , " the a s s i s t a n t superintendent s a i d .  "My dear t e a c h e r s , I would l i k e t o  i n f o r m you t h a t t h e superintendent o f s c h o o l s w i l l be among us  tomorrow!" Sure enough, the next day we were a l l i n t h e assembly  h a l l a l l dressed up applauding t h e s u p e r i n t e n d e n t . A woman-teacher  handed him t h r e e a r t i c l e s :  E m b e l l i s h my Mind," "How  "How  to  t o E m b e l l i s h my Heart," "How  to  E m b e l l i s h my S o u l . " P i s q u a n i presented him w i t h two a r t i c l e s :  "A B i t o f  Cosmic S c i e n c e " and " N a t u r a l Harmony as t h e I n s p i r a t i o n o f Art." P a g l i a n i o f f e r e d him h i s book:  N u p t i a l Bed, School and  Altar. Amiconi gave him a t r e a t i s e o f h i s :  Messianic Prophecies.  There was a p i l e o f t y p e w r i t t e n and p r i n t e d pages on t h e table. The a s s i s t a n t superintendent gave a t a l k e n t i t l e d we have F a i t h i n Mankind."  "Why  He began, " L e t us not d e s p a i r !  An o l d e r n i g h t - s c h o o l student gave us an answer which moved us.  We asked him, 'Why  what he answered us?  do you come t o s c h o o l ? '  Do you know  'I come t o s c h o o l so I can teach  my  c h i l d r e n t o read and w r i t e . ' . . . " While t h e a s s i s t a n t superintendent was t a l k i n g , I l o o k e d at my c o l l e a g u e s .  T h e i r f a c e s were a l l t i r e d and drawn from  213  the a l l - n i g h t e r .  You c o u l d t e l l they'd spent t h e n i g h t  overhauling t h e i r a r t i c l e s .  A l l morning they'd been c a l l i n g  t y p i s t s and p r i n t e r s t o see i f t h e y were done o r n o t .  "Watch  out f o r m i s p r i n t s ! " they'd y e l l i n t o t h e r e c e i v e r . Then Amiconi  got up and asked t h e superintendent whether  he knew anything about t h e l a w he was i n t e r e s t e d i n .  "It's  been i n t h e Tenth Committee's hands f o r y e a r s ! " he s a i d . The superintendent d i d n ' t know a n y t h i n g about i t . Then he v i s i t e d t h e classrooms.  " I can sense whether  the t e a c h e r p r a c t i c e s a c t i v e s c h o o l o r n o t by t h e way t h e desks a r e s e t up!" he s a i d . I n f a c t every classroom had some desks f a c i n g forward and some sideways;  one here, another t h e r e ; some w i t h t h e  t e a c h e r ' s desk i n t h e middle, some w i t h t h e b l a c k b o a r d i n t h e middle o f t h e desks; one classroom d i v i d e d i n t o downtown and suburbs, one i n t o government o f f i c e s .  "How does t h i s  government o f f i c e method work?" t h e superintendent  asked  Filippi. "The  c l a s s e l e c t s i t s s e c r e t a r i e s , without t h e p r o p o r -  t i o n a l system and quorums.  The S e c r e t a r y o f S t a t e t a k e s  the b u l l e t i n s around t o t h e o t h e r classrooms.  The S e c r e t a r y  o f t h e I n t e r i o r takes care o f d i s c i p l i n e , clean-up and watering t h e f l o w e r s .  The S e c r e t a r y o f E d u c a t i o n makes sure  everybody has t h e i r pen-points and notebooks and pens.  The  S e c r e t a r y o f T r a n s p o r t a t i o n hands out and c o l l e c t s t h e notebooks and assignments..."  214  "And how l o n g i s a S e c r e t a r y i n o f f i c e ? " t h e s u p e r i n t e n dent  asked. " P h y s i c a l , c i v i c and moral e d u c a t i o n .  When t h e r e ' s a  governmental c r i s i s i n Rome, we have another Filippi  election,"  said.  We went i n t o a woman 3 2 5 ' s classroom. plastered with signs:  The room was  Divine i n s p i r a t i o n with Jesus.  Divine i n s p i r a t i o n with our parents.  Divine i n s p i r a t i o n  with our teacher... Then we went on t o t h e classroom o f a c o l l e a g u e who taught i n t h e morning and was a middleman i n t h e a f t e r n o o n . What was t h e r e i n t h a t room?  Scales, potatoes,  carrots,  about t h i r t y rubber-stamps, a s h e l f f u l l o f books on pedagogy t h a t I knew he'd bought en masse a t a s t r e e t - s t a l l . w i t h t i t l e s l i k e How t o Mold t h e Young C h i l d .  Treatises  Or e l s e  R e l i g i o n Seen Not as S e r v i l e T e r r o r but as Y e a r n i n g . . . N a t u r a l l y i n a l l o f t h e s e classrooms  some o f t h e desks  were on one s i d e , some on t h e o t h e r ; w i t h t h e b l a c k b o a r d e i t h e r i n t h e middle o r f l a t on t h e f l o o r . One streets.  c o l l e a g u e had put names on'the rows o f desks, Pope P i u s X I I S t r e e t .  like  S a i n t Giovanni Bosco S t r e e t .  Giovanni M a r i a M a s t a i F e r r e t t i ( P i u s IX) S t r e e t .  ! l  Three times  a month I change t h e s t r e e t names," t h e t e a c h e r e x p l a i n e d , "and i t a l l t i e s i n w i t h what we're s t u d y i n g . Then we came t o t h e classroom o f a t e a c h e r on h i s f i r s t pay i n c r e a s e o f t h e f i r s t p o i n t t o t a l .  The a s s i s t a n t  super-  215  i n t e n d e n t and a l l the t e a c h e r s made f a c e s ; t h e y a l l w r i n k l e d up t h e i r noses l i k e t h e y were going i n t o a sewer. had t h r e e rows o f desks, one behind the o t h e r . desk up f r o n t , the blackboard t o the  The  The  room  teacher's  right.  " T h i s t e a c h e r doesn't have the f e e l o f a c t i v i s m , " the a s s i s t a n t superintendent e x p l a i n e d , m o r t i f i e d . on the bookish! we  But he's young, and I'm  should g i v e c r e d i t t o  still  of the opinion that  youth."  The superintendent nodded. couldn't b e l i e v e i t :  "He's  Then he l e f t .  The  teachers  on the t a b l e i n t h e assembly h a l l l a y  t h e p i l e o f a r t i c l e s he'd f o r g o t t e n t o take w i t h  him.  XIII.  Saturday evening. deserted s t r e e t .  I walk along i n the s i l e n c e o f a  It's drizzling.  The s h i n y a s p h a l t r e f l e c t s  the words and c o l o r s o f neon s i g n s .  Night.  There's nobody  around but some guy t a k i n g t i r e d s t e p s , and I wonder he's walking and where he c o u l d be g o i n g . l o n g avenue, and I t h i n k about how the avenue I ' l l t u r n around.  I'm  why  going down a  when I get t o the end o f  T h i s s i l e n c e , I t h i n k , made up  o f l i g h t e d windows and massive b o l t e d doors, i s a s m a l l p r o v i n c i a l town s i l e n c e . I s t a r e a t a l i g h t e d window and t h i n k about how t h a t window, beneath t h a t l i g h t t h e r e are p e o p l e .  My  behind heels  216  resound s h a r p l y on t h e sidewalk; I t h i n k how those people must hear my f o o t s t e p s , how t h e y must l i k e b e i n g warm i n s i d e and t h i n k i n g t h a t somebody's out w a l k i n g i n t h e r a i n . I s t o p i n f r o n t o f an automobile showroom. seen i t b e f o r e ; i t ' s brand-new. was b e f o r e the showroom.  dealership. because  I'm g l a d .  something's  I t r y t o remember what t h e r e  I can't remember.  happened, sonething's changed.  I've never  Something has  Vigevano has an automobile  Not about t h e d e a l e r s h i p , but  changed.  And a l i t t l e b i t about t h e  dealership too. I continue my walk t h i n k i n g , something's it  changed.  And  seems strange t o be g l a d , but t h a t d e a l e r s h i p gave me a  real feeling of joy. T h i n k i n g about these t h i n g s , I got t o t h e end o f the avenue. darkness.  F a r t h e r ahead t h e road t o Novara fades i n t o t h e I keep w a l k i n g .  and f e e l completely a l o n e .  I immerse myself i n t h e darkness I l o o k a t my shadow, t h a t l e a p s  from t h e ground a t a c a r ' s h e a d l i g h t s and i s c a s t , l o n g and g i g a n t i c , i n f r o n t o f me, then moves t o my r i g h t a t t h e same speed as t h e c a r , and d i s a p p e a r s behind me.  That shadow i s  mine. 'But why am I g l a d they s e t up an automobile d e a l e r s h i p ? * I ask m y s e l f .  My v o i c e sounds strange but p l e a s a n t t o me; i t  has a mysterious i n t e n s i t y . I glimpse a woman's shadow a t a g a t e .  She got out o f  -that c a r . She's s t a n d i n g t h e r e l i k e she's w a i t i n g f o r  217  something. I walk slower t h i n k i n g about how, s i n c e I've been a widower, I haven't been w i t h a woman. I  Through the darkness  see i t ' s h e r , i t ' s E v a . "What weather!" I s a y . "Two "Is  thousand i n advance," she answers. your name Eva?"  "Yes, "Did "So?" "Two  why?" you l i v e i n a h u t ? " Her v o i c e i s u n g r a c e f u l , l i k e she i s . thousand i n advance, you know!"  She walks i n f r o n t o f me down a path t h a t ends i n a courtyard.  We go i n a door where an o l d l a d y ' s r e a d i n g c a r d s .  She l e a d s me t o t h e back, i n t o a k i n d o f basement. She undresses w i t h t h e mechanicalness o f a whore; then she  s t r e t c h e s out naked on t h e c o t . Her body doesn't r a d i a t e any l i g h t ; i t ' s t h e body o f a  normal naked woman.  There's no harmony i n those l i n e s .  l i k e l o o k i n g a t a pornographic p i c t u r e .  It's  As a matter o f f a c t ,  I t h i n k she s m e l l s o f a l a c k o f c l e a n l i n e s s .  But i t must be  my r e a c t i o n ; i t seemed l i k e i n t h e hut she gave o f f a perfume of  flowers. — • I t h i n k I must have been t h e v i c t i m o f an o p t i c a l  illusion. the  I t wasn't h e r body t h a t i l l u m i n a t e d t h e woods but  darkness o f t h e woods t h a t gave r a d i a n c e t o h e r whiteness.  218  I remembered those scenes t h a t were l i k e p a i n t i n g s by great a r t i s t s ; and I t h i n k about how t h i s i s t h e same woman naked i n f r o n t o f me, l y i n g here t a k i n g p l e a s u r e i n my her naked.  I touch h e r sexual p a r t s and f e e l r e p u l s i o n .  "Hurry up, come on! she  seeing  Haven't you ever seen one b e f o r e ? "  yells. Eva mounts j u s t l i k e a whore.  "But a r e you r e a l l y  Eva?" I murmur. "Yes,  I'm Eva, dammit!" she y e l l s .  I walk home t a k i n g t i r e d s t e p s . the way down t h e avenue. enveloped i n sadness.  I t h i n k about E v a a l l  She's changed too, I t h i n k .  I'm  I've been with Eva, I t h i n k ; w i t h E v a .  I stop i n t h e l i g h t o f t h e automobile showroom and s a y to myself, 'Cheer up!  They've s e t up an automobile d e a l e r -  ship! '  XIV.  I'm s t i l l  a f f e c t e d by E v a .  I spend t h e a f t e r n o o n I saw Eva.  s t r e t c h e d out on the bed t h i n k i n g ,  I l i e t h e r e f o r hours without moving and t h i n k  t h a t even l y i n g  on a bed without moving i s doing  I'm not sure t h a t l y i n g  something.  on a bed without moving i s doing  something, but I t h i n k so, and I don't know why I t h i n k s o , maybe because i t ' s convenient f o r me t o t h i n k t h a t even t h a t  219  i s doing  something.  I saw Eva.  I have such a s t r o n g f e e l i n g o f - h a v i n g  become u s e l e s s , I d i d n ' t even go t o s c h o o l t h i s morning.  I  stayed i n bed t h i n k i n g , Antonio Mombelli, s u b s t i t u t e , p o i n t t o t a l 2 0 2 s a l a r y bracket # 1 , i s i n bed. Time went by i n a n g u i s h .  Something  had t o happen; I  was w a i t i n g f o r something t o happen and I was wouldn't I  happen.  spent h a l f an hour w a i t i n g , t h i n k i n g , i t ' s not  happening.  So f a r n o t h i n g ' s happened.  Then I heard a knock on the door. coming t o see how  I  c a l l me.  me;  supposed t o happen.  somebody having taken an i n t e r e s t i n  And t h a t ' s whats happened.  The j a n i t o r ' s come t o  so t h a t means t h e r e ' s some need o f my I went t o s c h o o l t h i n k i n g , I'm  "Your excuse!" he s a i d .  f i x e d l y , from t h o s e t h r e e s t e p s .  call  services.  going where duty  The a s s i s t a n t s u p e r i n t e n d e n t was i n hand.  Somebody coming  Somebody h a v i n g n o t i c e d my presence somewhere  and taken note o f i t ; me.  I t was t h e j a n i t o r  was.  That was what was to  afraid i t  calls.  on the top s t e p , watch  He l o o k e d down a t me I s t a r e d a t h i s shoes  t h i n k i n g , You wash your f e e t t o o , and I kept on s t a r i n g a t them.  I saw t h e t i p s o f h i s shoes r i s e , and thought  how he has t o e s t o o . "Your excuse!" he r e p e a t e d . "I wasn't w e l l ! " I s a i d .  about  220  "We know t e a c h e r s who a r e extremely punctual even w i t h a fever.  J u s t as t h e r e a r e d i r e c t and i n d i r e c t t a x e s , so i s  t h e r e d i r e c t and i n d i r e c t education; and t h e i n d i r e c t more weight than t h e d i r e c t . "  carries  He swallowed and went on.  "How can you teach p u n c t u a l i t y t o your students i f you a r e not p u n c t u a l ? . . . commonplace:  And don't j u s t i f y y o u r s e l f t o us w i t h t h a t  'do as I s a y and n o t as I do', because we  d e t e s t commonplaces, j u s t as we d e t e s t those who make use o f them!" He l o o k e d a t me w i t h a nauseated  expression;  I couldn't  t e l l whether i t was because o f me o r t h e commonplace. he s a i d , "Mombelli,  Then  do you want t o r e h a b i l i t a t e y o u r s e l f ?  Are you w i l l i n g t o perform  an a c t o f h u m i l i t y ? "  " I n o t h e r words?" "Mombelli,  you know you a r e i n a t r i a l p e r i o d , you're a  s u b s t i t u t e again; you know you've committed n o t one, but two o f f e n c e s . . . " "Me; two o f f e n c e s ? " "Mombelli,  you were seen going t o t h e house o f , l e t us  say, a woman o f t h e w o r l d , a c e r t a i n Eva.  Now, t h e r u l e s  demand t h a t an educator's p e r s o n a l conduct  be an example t o  mankind..."  He s m i l e d , s a t i s f i e d w i t h h i m s e l f .  "Mombelli,  you have two c h o i c e s .  E i t h e r you submit t o  performing t h e a c t o f h u m i l i t y , o r e l s e we s h a l l put i t on your p e r s o n a l r e c o r d . " " I choose t h e a c t o f h u m i l i t y , " I s a i d .  221  "Here's f i f t y l i r e .  Go buy us t h e paper and a stamp!"  He gave me f i f t y l i r e , and I f e l t h u m i l i a t e d t a k i n g i t . "But  there are the j a n i t o r s . . . . " I said  faintly.  "Mombelli, we remind you t h a t you a r e a s u b s t i t u t e , t h a t you  a r e n o t combatting G a l l i c i s m s and A n g l i c i s m s ,  know n o t h i n g  about c o r r e c t  t h a t you  loops...."  I went t o a b a r - t o b a c c o n i s t ' s  t o g e t a t w e n t y - l i r e stamp.  XV.  As I was buying t h e stamp a t a b a r - t o b a c c o n i s t ' s  I  heard t h a t t h e Tenth Committee's b i l l had been approved. A m i c o n i ' 1 1 be g l a d , I thought.  I bought t h e paper, and  the a r t i c l e about i t was on t h e s i x t h page. Amiconi was w a i t i n g f o r a l l r i g h t . one  I t was t h e l a w  I bought t h r e e  copies;  f o r t h e p r i n c i p a l , one f o r me, t h e other one f o r Amiconi. I went back t o s c h o o l i n a good mood.  I f e l t l i k e when  I was l i t t l e and was b r i n g i n g a p i e c e o f news t h a t nobody knew y e t and t h a t I knew they'd be i n t e r e s t e d i n . The  p r i n c i p a l was s t i l l  things, I f e l t humiliated he'd  on t h e s t e p s .  G i v i n g him the  not j u s t because o f t h e errand  imposed on me, but because I ' d obeyed without r e a c t i n g .  "There a r e j a n i t o r s f o r t h i s ! " I s a i d l o u d l y . "My dear Mr. Mombelli, t h i s i s o u r l a s t year on t h e administration.  We wanted t o t e s t your h u m i l i t y ! " he s a i d .  222  I t seemed t o me he'd wanted t o t e s t h i s a b i l i t y t o command, and t h a t he was s a t i s f i e d .  A t e a c h e r went t o g e t  stamps and t h e paper f o r me, those c r a f t y l i t t l e eyes seemed to say. "Do you know, Mr. Mombelli, t h a t poem o f P r a t i ' s which goes... " a c a r t l o a d o f hay went by, and l e f t a n i c e s m e l l ! May my s o u l  be l i k e t h a t c a r t l o a d o f hay; may i t t o o l e a v e  a nice smell!"  You know t h e poem...  We w i l l endeavor t o  l e a v e a n i c e s m e l l w i t h you t o o , Mr. M o m b e l l i . t o g i v e you a good e v a l u a t i o n .  We w i l l t r y  Happy?"  I was about t o s a y thank you t o him, but j u s t  answered,  "Uhm!" I d i d n ' t care about t e l l i n g t h e news about t h e l a w any more. "They've approved t h a t law t h a t a f f e c t s Amiconi!" I s a i d . "Our c o l l e a g u e Amiconi!  L e t ' s g i v e each man t h e t i t l e  due him!" "Our c o l l e a g u e Amiconi," I s a i d . The f a c t t h a t I knew about t h e l a w and he d i d n ' t must have i r r i t a t e d him. "I don't t h i n k s o , " he s a i d . "Right here!" I answered, opening t h e paper t o page s i x . " L e t ' s go t e l l him about i t , " he s a i d . That annoyed me.  I would r a t h e r have g i v e n t h e news t o  Amiconi by m y s e l f . We went i n t o h i s classroom and found Amiconi w a l k i n g  223  around, on a l l f o u r s , then..." first  "...once man  walked l i k e  this...,  He jumped t o h i s f e e t , "he walked e r e c t , and h i s  conquest was " D i d man  t o l o o k a t the  have a t a i l ? " he  sky..."  shouted.  "Noooooo!" the k i d s answered. The a s s i s t a n t superintendent g e s t u r e d towards " J u s t l o o k , what v i t a l i t y !  him.  T h i s i s a born educator...  They  want us t o g i v e e x c e l l e n t s t o the n i g h t - s c h o o l t e a c h e r s ; but then what would we g i v e Amiconi was  Amiconi?"  upset when he r e a l i z e d we were i n the  class-  room. "Good news, Mr. Amiconi!  The Tenth Committee's  bill..."  the a s s i s t a n t superintendent s a i d , b r e a k i n g o f f . "...What?" he s a i d b r e a t h l e s s l y . "...has been approved!" the a s s i s t a n t  superintendent  shouted. I saw Amiconi  t u r n white, waxen, convulsed; he took a  s t e p , l e a n e d on a desk; f i x e d h i s eyes on u s , and h e a v i l y with a d u l l  fell  thud.  The d o c t o r s a i d he'd undergone a v i o l e n t emotion and h i s h e a r t j u s t hadn't h e l d up. "He  d i e d i n s c h o o l , " the a s s i s t a n t  murmured.  superintendent  "There i s no death more b e a u t i f u l f o r an  I l o o k e d a t the body:  I thought  educator!"  about N a n i n i ' s wish.  224  XVI.  "Mr.  Mombelli, you w i l l represent  us at Mr.  Amiconi's  f u n e r a l , " the a s s i s t a n t superintendent s a i d t o me. will  express my  her t h i s c a r d . sentational  g r i e f and  "You  condolences to the widow, and  You w i l l t e l l h e r you are t h e r e i n a  give  repre-  capacity!"  The word * r e p r e s e n t a t i o n a l * must have sounded good t o him.  I n f a c t , he kept r e p e a t i n g i t , and he was  i n a p a r t i c u l a r way, "You Mr.  w i t h great r e l i s h .  repeating i t  "Representational."  w i l l t e l l h e r - what w i l l you t e l l Widow Amiconi,  Mombelli?" "I'll  t e l l her; I'm  here i n a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n a l  f o r the p r i n c i p a l , P r o f e s s o r He shook h i s head.  Pereghi!"  " I am here i n a  representational  capacity f o r assistant superintendent/principal/ Pereghi;  f o r a s s i s t a n t superintendent...,  i n a representational "For a s s i s t a n t Pereghi!" He  repeat;  Professor I am  here  capacity..." superintendent/principal/Professor  I said.  r e f l e c t e d a minute and  s a i d , "Remember t h a t you  not a p r i v a t e c i t i z e n but a p u b l i c o f f i c i a l : the s c h o o l a u t h o r i t i e s . " I was  capacity  you  are  represent  Word went around i n the h a l l s t h a t  the p r i n c i p a l ' s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e . "Why  i s he o f a l l people the r e p r e s e n t a t i v e ? "  complained.  Cipollone  225  "Of a l l people he had t o choose a 202 t o be r e p r e s e n t a t i v e ! " B r a g a g l i a muttered. I waited u n t i l Amiconi's  casket l e f t h i s house; and  s i n c e t h e r e weren't many people, I went and c a l l e d Rino t o s w e l l the t h r o n g . The people t h i n n e d out on t h e way other.  The l a s t ones who  were l e f t  from one  church t o the  got as f a r as t h e  beginning o f t h e road t o the cemetary and went home. t h e hearse were the widow, Rino and  Behind  me.  I moved c l o s e r t o the woman and handed h e r t h e p r i n c i p a l / a s s i s t a n t s u p e r i n t e n d e n t ' s note o f  condolences.  " A f t e r f o r t y - s e v e n years o f t e a c h i n g ! " the widow s a i d , l o o k i n g around h e r .  "He had thousands o f students!  always s a i d , 'Every one o f my  students i s a f i n e  He  person;  t h e y ' r e a l l o u t s t a n d i n g c i t i z e n s ; not one has ended up i n j a i l ; not one has d i s g r a c e d h i m s e l f . . . f a i l e d remember me w i t h a f f e c t i o n . ' said!...  Even the ones I  That's what he always  And he used t o say, ' I f every one o f my  students  accompanies me t o the cemetary t h e y ' l l have t o have a p o l i c e e s c o r t ! ...'  And you j u s t can't imagine how  he'd run i n t o some student o f h i s now r e c o g n i z e him and g r e e t him!  'You  t e a c h e r i s more than a f a t h e r . . . * to  teaching, everything...  happy he was when  a grown man  who'd  see,' he'd t e l l me,  'a  He gave e v e r y t h i n g he  He spent h i s whole l i f e  had  correcting  homework and p r e p a r i n g l e s s o n s . . . a n d he always s a i d , 'I have two f a m i l i e s ; home and s c h o o l ! *  And he'd l a u g h , 'What  226  debauchery; two f a m i l i e s , . .'" The weather was g r a y and damp; a p a l e m i s t was r i s i n g from t h e f i e l d s ; we were walking on a c a r p e t o f y e l l o w l e a v e s t h a t covered t h e road and gave you t h e f e e l i n g o f w a l k i n g on a cushion.  I t seemed l i k e nature had p r o v i d e d t h a t c a r p e t  of l e a v e s j u s t f o r Amiconi. A f t e r h a v i n g w i t n e s s e d t h e b u r i a l , Rino s a i d , " L e t ' s go v i s i t mamma!" "Some o t h e r time," I s a i d . " L e t ' s go, papa!" We went t o v i s i t Ada. people's cemetary: earth...  She was b u r i e d i n t h e poor  t h e grave was covered w i t h e a r t h , wet  There was t h i s s m e l l coming from t h a t e a r t h .  A  pungent s m e l l so bad i t t u r n e d my stomach. Rino had b u r s t i n t o t e a r s . on t h e gravestone.  I s t a r e d a t Ada's p i c t u r e  She had t h a t i r o n i c e x p r e s s i o n she'd  always worn on h e r f a c e when she was a n g r y . . . i n f a c t , i t l o o k e d t o me l i k e h e r mouth was moving, l i k e h e r eyes were t a k i n g on t h a t s a r c a s t i c e x p r e s s i o n . . .  Rino kept on c r y i n g ,  and she kept on s t a r i n g a t me w i t h t h a t v i c t o r i o u s e x p r e s s i o n , tinged with p i t y . 'I  c e r t a i n l y won't go c r y o v e r your grave,' i t seemed  l i k e t h a t mouth, those eyes, t h a t s t e n c h were s a y i n g . Rino kept on c r y i n g . to  I thought about how I ' d n e v e r gone  v i s i t my f a t h e r ' s grave; how I d i d n ' t s u f f e r t h e way I  s u f f e r e d a t my mother's death.  Rino c e r t a i n l y won't come  227  c r y l i k e t h i s ! , I thought from t h a t p i c t u r e .  a n g r i l y , and she kept on s m i r k i n g  And t h e stench was g e t t i n g more r e v o l t i n g .  Rino must c e r t a i n l y be s u f f e r i n g , i f he can k i s s t h a t e a r t h . She had t h e same e x p r e s s i o n as when she used t o say, " I l o o k down on you," when she used t o c a l l me "Good f o r n o t h i n g l i t t l e s c h o o l t e a c h e r , " when she t o l d me Rino wasn't mine... still said.  The same e x p r e s s i o n .  smirking, s t i l l  And she's s t i l l  there smirking.  smirking,  "Ada, q u i t i t , " I  And she kept on s m i r k i n g , w i t h t h i s s a t i s f i e d ,  v i c t o r i o u s expression.  She's s t i l l  smirking,  still...  " Q u i t i t , Ada!" Rino went on sobbing and t h e r e she was l o o k i n g s t i l l l o o k i n g a t me w i t h t h a t s a r c a s t i c s m i l e . was s t i l l "Ada,  triumphant,  And t h e stench  g e t t i n g worse... cut i t o u t ! . . .  I t o l d you t o cut i t o u t . . .  Ada,  cut i t out..." She's s t i l l  smirking, s t i l l  there smirking.  With t h e  same e x p r e s s i o n as when she bought h e r s e l f g o l d b r a c e l e t s and s a i d I ' d g i v e n them t o h e r . heard r i g h t .  "That's r i g h t , " she s a i d .  She'd r e a l l y j u s t s a i d , "That's  "I've always been u n f a i t h f u l t o you...  I'd  right" He's n o t yours..."  "Cut i t o u t , Ada..." "Rino's n o t yours," she s a i d w i t h a f i e r c e s n e e r . I stared at the p i c t u r e .  "Rino, you don't know what  your mother was l i k e , " I s a i d , s p i t t i n g on t h e grave.  228  Rino s t a r e d a t me. expression.  I saw Ada was s m i l i n g w i t h a sad  The s p i t was white a g a i n s t t h e brown e a r t h ; I  was m i r r o r e d i n a bubble.  ' I t ' s n o t h i n g , ' Ada's melancholy  s m i l e seemed t o s a y . "What d i d you do?" Rino I  said.  suddenly r e a l i z e d t h a t I was i n a cemetary*  That i c y  c o l d was coming from t h e marble, from t h e c r o s s e s ; t h e r e I was over a grave.  'I s p i t t h a t . '  thought, I d i d t h a t .  I s t a r e d a t i t and  I l o o k e d a t Ada a g a i n .  S t i l l t h a t sad  s m i l e t h a t was t u r n i n g i n t o a s n e e r . "What d i d you do!" Rino  said.  He screamed and took o f f . I was l e f t by myself i n f r o n t of  t h a t p i c t u r e , i n f r o n t o f t h a t s p i t , on t h a t e a r t h t h a t  stank o f decomposing b o d i e s .  'What d i d you expect?' i t  seemed l i k e Ada was s a y i n g t o me. And around me n o t h i n g but s i l e n c e and c o l d , and me  still  here t h i n k i n g , I'm here, I'm awake, I'm a l i v e , I spat on a grave. I l o o k e d f o r t h e l a s t time a t Ada, who'd s t a r t e d  smiling  t h a t s a d , melancholy s m i l e a g a i n , and l e f t t h i n k i n g , I've done something! I walked, head lowered, on t h e carpet o f y e l l o w l e a v e s as evening f e l l At  and a s l i v e r o f moon appeared among t h e c l o u d s .  t h e bend i n t h e road, t h e a s s i s t a n t s u p e r i n t e n d e n t  suddenly appears b e f o r e me.  He must have been t h e r e f o r  q u i t e a w h i l e , t o judge from t h e r i v u l e t s o f m o i s t u r e on h i s  229  coat. "Did you What d i d you  c a r r y out your r e p r e s e n t a t i o n a l say t o the widow?"  Representational standing  mission!  t h e r e i n f r o n t o f me.  thought.  mission?...  " I t o l d her t h a t Mr.  I had You  a whole mountain of t a r  cut t a r w i t h a k n i f e , I  Pereghi had  sent me  i n his  place," I s a i d d e l i b e r a t e l y . "You  s a i d Mr....  But we're P r i n c i p a l / P r o f e s s o r / A s s i s -  t a n t Superintendent!" he s n a r l e d . I had  " D i d you  r e a l l y say Mr...."  t o prove t o myself t h a t I s t i l l had  a b i t of  courage. "I  s a i d Mr.  Pereghi a l l r i g h t . . .  I f o r g o t the  titles!"  I said resolutely, firmly. Pereghi leaned Mr....  And here we  against a w a l l . are making you  "Oh, our  really?  We  M i s t e r , t o me! I l e f t him  said  representative...  Mombelli, we w i l l see about t h i s d u r i n g the next period....  You  evaluation  w i l l see about t h i s on your o r a l exams.... To me...." s t i l l l e a n i n g a g a i n s t the w a l l .  That man's  s u f f e r i n g . . . , I thought. But i n my  mind, a g a i n s t a dark background, I kept  seeing that s p i t . me!  I i n h a l e d the stench;  i t was  coming from  230  XVII.  I was w a l k i n g back and f o r t h i n t h e bedroom. at n i g h t and Rino wasn't home.  I t was l a t e  I ' d spent f o u r hours o r so  t h i n k i n g about a c h a l l e n g e between me and C o p p i .  For four  hours, minute by minute, I imagined p e d a l i n g t h e l a s t l e g of t h e Tour, and g e t t i n g t o P a r i s about twelve hours  ahead  o f t h e b i g champion. Then i t seemed t o me l i k e twelve hours was t o o much, not f o r Coppi but f o r t h e l e n g t h o f t h e l e g , so I cut i t t o s i x hours. I went f o r f o u r hours i n a s t a t e o f semiconsciousness, t h i n k i n g , I'm a l i v e , I'm winning t h e Tour, Coppi's behind me somewhere! But a f t e r f o u r hours I was exhausted from a l l t h i n k i n g , from t h a t i n t e n s e and empty  that  daydreaming.  " I s p i t on a grave!" I s a i d , and my v o i c e made me jump. I went i n t o Rino's room and t h e made bed gave me a f e e l i n g o f anguish. boy wasn't i n bed.  I t was past one o ' c l o c k ; t h e l i t t l e H i s schoolbooks and h i s notebooks were  on t h e chest o f drawers and behind them, framed, t h e p i c t u r e o f Ada; t h e same one t h a t ' s on h e r gravestone. I stared at i t with a f e e l i n g o f f e a r . picture!' I s a i d t o myself.  'See?  It's a  And I was g l a d I was s t i l l  s e e i n g h e r j u s t l i k e she was, w i t h t h a t a p p r o p r i a t e s m i l e . Then, as I kept on s t a r i n g a t i t , I r e a l i z e d t h e s m i l e was  231  t u r n i n g i n t o a f i e r c e sneer. t h a t i t was  my  I had the d i s t i n c t  i m a g i n a t i o n t h a t was  the p i c t u r e and,  p r o j e c t i n g i t s e l f onto  j u s t l i k e at the cemetary, I was  the p i c t u r e w i t h the sneer o f Ada's t h a t I was i n my mind. change...' moving.  I clung t o t h a t e x p l a n a t i o n :  'A p i c t u r e can't  I'm  not i n c o n t r o l o f my mind anymore, I thought.  I t o l d myself,  I c o u l d see t h a t s p i t a g a i n , w h i t e r than  son o f f as my reasoning  son, i s an even more wicked t h i n g t o do!'  Put f l o w e r s on h e r grave?" t a l k i n g t o somebody.  t u r n s out he's  son...  a l l true? I was  not my  "What was  I supposed t o  I s a i d , r a i s i n g my  do?  v o i c e , as i f  " I l o v e d Rino l i k e my  son.  My  son,  and  I hated the red-headed baby  g l a d when he d i e d , and i t t u r n s out he i s  B e s i d e s , i s i t l i k e she s a i d ? She was  u n f a i t h f u l t o me,  Are those  things  that's f o r sure..."  convinced I ' d been j u s t i f i e d i n s p i t t i n g .  Meanwhile two  o'clock had gone by, and t w o - t h i r t y  and  Rino wasn't home; and I thought, So what?; t h a t one's not my  son.  but  f o r so l o n g , t o pass God-knows-whose  sounded good t o me.  so much I was  'After a l l , '  ' i t might have been a wicked t h i n g to do,  t o make a f o o l out o f me  my  are  I put the p i c t u r e down and went back i n my  b e f o r e , a g a i n s t t h a t e a r t h darker than b e f o r e .  it  always s e e i n g  I r e a l l y saw her move h e r l i p s ; I thought, She keeps  I n f r o n t o f me  I was  identifying  But then suddenly i t l o o k s l i k e the l i p s  on moving them. room.  impression  232  "'Cause now i t ' s I  convenient f o r you t o t h i n k he i s n ' t ! "  s a i d , and i t seemed l i k e n e i t h e r my v o i c e n o r t h e thought  existed. Why would a boy be running around a t t h i s time o f night?  "He's g e t t i n g back a t h i s f a t h e r , " I s a i d i n t h e  same tone o f v o i c e . R i n u c c i o , who g i v e s e v e r y t h i n g t o t h e beggars, who even goes through m y s t i c c r i s e s ; R i n u c c i o ought t o be a b l e t o forgive. "And i f he doesn't f o r g i v e you?" I s a i d , s t i l l i n t h e same tone o f v o i c e .  I s t a r t e d b r e a k i n g out i n a c o l d  sweat,  w h i l e t h e s t e n c h o f p u t r e f a c t i o n f i l l e d my n o s t r i l s . It  struck three.  I heard heavy r h y t h m i c a l s t e p s from t h e s t r e e t .  It  f e l t l i k e I ' d a l r e a d y been i n t h i s s i t u a t i o n , a l r e a d y l i v e d i t , been through i t . "They're coming here," I s a i d c o l d l y , s t r a i g h t e n i n g my tie. A few seconds l a t e r t h e y knocked a t t h e door. I t was t h r e e policemen. Mombelli?  O.K.  "Are you t h e f a t h e r o f Rino  Down t o t h e p o l i c e s t a t i o n , " t h e y s a i d .  "But what d i d he do?" I asked i n d i f f e r e n t l y . " Y o u ' l l f i n d out a t t h e s t a t i o n , " one o f t h e policemen s a i d , with d i f f i c u l t y . I along.  shrugged.  "You can t e l l me," I s a i d as we walked  " I r e a l l y couldn't care l e s s . . . h e ' s my w i f e ' s son..."  233  The policeman l o o k e d a t one o f h i s f e l l o w o f f i c e r s . "As a matter o f f a c t , t h e boy was running around a t n i g h t , " he s a i d .  "We can t e l l him."  The o f f i c e r s l o o k e d a t each o t h e r d o u b t f u l l y j  then  the same one s a i d , "He beat up and robbed an o l d man..." "Rino?" "...and obscene a c t s w i t h one o f them," he went on, pointing  t o where a n o t o r i o u s homosexual l i v e s .  watched me as t h e y t a l k e d ,  The o f f i c e r s  and I imagined I was r a c i n g t h e  stop-watch w i t h C o p p i . At t h e s t a t i o n , Rino was s i t t i n g a c r o s s from t h e p o l i c e c h i e f , w i t h t h e homosexual next t o him. Rino was b a r e f o o t and I c o u l d n ' t keep my eyes o f f h i s t o e s .  He had one f o o t up i n  the a i r , so I c o u l d see t h e bottom o f i t . The o t h e r f o o t was normal. There a r e h i s t o e s , I thought, and kept on s t a r i n g a t them.  I can see he has t o e s .  S a t i s f i e d now?  Rino was showing me h i s f e e t d e f i a n t l y , b r a z e n l y . And moving h i s t o e s .  Right then I was ashamed o f s e e i n g h i s f e e t  i n f r o n t o f s t r a n g e r s . I was h u m i l i a t e d n o t because I ' d r u i n e d t h e boy w i t h a f i l t h y a c t , n o t because o f what he'd done, but because o f those t o e s . The p o l i c e c h i e f ordered t h e two accused t a k e n i n t o t h e next room.  Rino showed me h i s f e e t f o r t h e l a s t time, l o o k e d  at me and s p i t on t h e f l o o r .  234  When we were alone the c h i e f o f f e r e d me a c i g a r e t t e , which I took e a g e r l y , w i t h a f e e l i n g o f s a t i s f i e d The c h i e f l o o k e d a t me s y m p a t h e t i c a l l y . t h i n k h e ' l l go t o j a i l .  vanity.  "Buck up!  I don't  T h e y ' l l put him i n reform s c h o o l , "  he s a i d . I was too depressed t o answer.  He showed me h i s t o e s ,  I thought. "They sure l e f t t h e o l d man i n bad shape," the c h i e f went on.  " T e l l me about the boy's l i f e ,  h i s past."  "Always been a good boy," I s a i d . "Then why i n t h e world..." I f e l l back a g a i n s t t h e c h a i r .  But I couldn't say  whether i t was t h e p a i n o f b e i n g r e s p o n s i b l e , o r w o r r y i n g about Rino's f u t u r e , o r because o f t h e t o e s , o r whether i t was j u s t a pose... Then, l i k e waking up from a dream, I found myself i n f r o n t o f my house. "Here we a r e , " a b u r e a u c r a t i c v o i c e s a i d . I threw myself on the bed p l a n n i n g t o s l e e p . striking  I t was  five.  XVIII.  I found myself a t t h e s t a t i o n undecided whether t o leave or not.  Then t h e t r a i n  came and I got on.  Racalmuto,  235  "21&!" he s a i d t o me.  the l a w y e r , was i n the compartment. "435!" I answered. "543!" "765," I s a i d . "765 444 8876 9876!" "666 987 654 332!" I responded. Racalmuto l o o k e d a t me h a p p i l y . words, I thought.  Numbers have r e p l a c e d  I j u s t had a c o n v e r s a t i o n u s i n g numbers,  I thought, and we understood each o t h e r .  I looked a t the  man w i t h a d m i r a t i o n , t r y i n g t o engrave h i s f e a t u r e s i n my mind. The conductor went by, and he was t a l k i n g i n numbers too,  r a t h e r than words. I went out i n t h e c o r r i d o r and saw a whole crowd t a l k i n g  i n numbers and u n d e r s t a n d i n g each o t h e r .  765,  543, 777,  9^7.  That's how the crowd was t a l k i n g . I t c o u l d be, I thought. numbers, so i t c o u l d be.  I c o u l d hear them t a l k i n g i n  In fact:  i tis.  The t r a i n stopped  at the l i t t l e s t a t i o n i n C a v a t i c i n o , a s w i t c h - p o i n t i n t h e middle o f t h e woods. "777!" Racalmuto s a i d . "No!" I answered. "777!" he repeated and p o i n t e d t o some policemen who were scanning everyone's f a c e s .  "They're l o o k i n g f o r you!"  Racalmuto t o l d me. I pounded my f o r e h e a d . "Run!" Racalmuto s a i d .  "6184!"  236  "562," I answered. I got o f f at t h e l i t t l e s t a t i o n , c r o s s e d t h e t r a c k s and stopped behind t h e s t a t i o n . "I  I heard a r a i l r o a d worker say,  saw a guy running!" "You k i d d i n g ? " t h e o t h e r worker s a i d . "I  j u s t saw him r i g h t t h i s minute!"  "Should we c a l l t h e p o l i c e ? " " L e t ' s not get i n v o l v e d . " "But why would t h a t guy run i n t h e woods?" "I  saw him run i n t h e r e a l l r i g h t ! "  "Are you sure you saw him?" " C l e a r as day!" "Then e i t h e r he's a robber o r a murderer!" They d i d n ' t say a n y t h i n g f o r a minute. train  Meanwhile the  left. "I'm gonna c a l l the p o l i c e ! " one o f the workers s a i d . "No!" "You saw a guy s l i n k o f f the t r a i n i n t o t h e woods?  And  then?" I took o f f .  I r a n f o r q u i t e a way and then s t a r t e d  walking. I was walking among huge t r e e s , w i t h my f e e t on boggy ground and a concert o f c r i c k e t s and owls and f r o g s and crows f i l l i n g my e a r s .  I was walking i n t h e dark; every once i n  awhile I'd bump i n t o a t r e e and t h i n k t h e y were about t o get me!  237  I kept on walking w h i l e t h e j a c k a l s howled m o u r n f u l l y from among t h e t r e e s . "What a r e you doing, j a c k a l s ? " I shouted. "Feeding on dead men's stomachs!" a chorus o f j a c k a l s answered• A f t e r walking a l i t t l e more I shouted, "What a r e you doing, j a c k a l s ? " "Feeding on dead men's stomachs!" t h e y howled. Then 1 slapped myself a couple o f times and woke up. I was l y i n g i n t h e woods w i t h my head r e s t i n g on t h e r o o t s of  a tree.  I c o u l d f e e l t h e v a r i o u s branchings o f t h e r o o t s  d i g g i n g i n t o my back.  I pressed my body a g a i n s t a k n o t t y  p a r t , t h i n k i n g , Trees have t o e s t o o . I  Trees have corns t o o .  s t a r t walking a g a i n , p r i c k i n g up my e a r s .  l i v e i n A f r i c a , I thought, r e l i e v e d .  Jackals  And I thought o f a  s h o r t s t o r y o f T o l s t o y ' s t h a t had made q u i t e an i m p r e s s i o n on me when I was a boy, and t h a t I always read t o my s t u d e n t s . It  was about a c e r t a i n Pugaciov who'd been sentenced t o about  t h i r t y y e a r s i n p r i s o n f o r h a v i n g k i l l e d a man. had taken p l a c e i n an i n n .  The crime  I n Pugaciov's bag they'd found  the b l o o d - s t a i n e d k n i f e t h a t t h e v i c t i m ' s t h r o a t had been with.  slit  Pugaciov was doing t h e t h i r t y y e a r s ; except t h a t a man  came t o t h e p r i s o n and confessed t o Pugaciov t h a t he was the assassin.  " F o r g i v e me, Pugaciov!"  you!" Pugaciov answered.  " I t ' s God who must f o r g i v e  The a s s a s s i n confessed t o t h e crime  and t h e next day t h e y went t o f r e e Pugaciov, but Pugaciov  238  was  dead. I'm  Pugaciov! I thought.  I pounded a hand a g a i n s t  head and s a i d t o myself, 'I'm  here, I'm  awake, I'm  my  alive';  and I c o u l d remember p e r f e c t l y h a v i n g been i n t h e i n n , h a v i n g found a b l o o d - s t a i n e d k n i f e i n my s u i t c a s e ; I c o u l d remember t h a t i n the next room t h e r e ' d been a dead man his throat s l i t .  And I took o f f t h i n k i n g , I'm l i k e  and w h i l e I ran I was  Pugaciov!,  t h i n k i n g t h a t I would have run away  even i f they'd accused me o f s t e a l i n g Vigevano*s 'Don't k i d y o u r s e l f , * I t o l d m y s e l f . against  with  *A11  tower.  the evidence i s  you!'  I walked f o r a l o n g time u n t i l I stopped by a t r e e , exhausted.  I was  about t o l i e down, t h i n k i n g , They won't  get me here, - when I f e l t my f e e t b e i n g swallowed by t h e earth. ankles.  And i n a few seconds the e a r t h was  swallowing  my  Quicksand, I thought.  The e a r t h kept on swallowing me; under; then my  now my knees were going  thighs.  I heard a v o i c e nearby. She had t h e red-headed  "Antonio, h e l p me!"  I t was  Ada.  baby i n h e r arms.  "Get on my s h o u l d e r s , " I t o l d h e r .  "And put the baby  on yours." I c o u l d t a s t e the pungent t a s t e o f the e a r t h i n my mouth. J u s t my  eyes were o u t .  I woke up and s a i d t o myself, 'But t h i s i s a f a i r y I've t o l d my s t u d e n t s hundreds  o f times!'  tale  239  I was l e a n i n g a g a i n s t a t r e e , l o o k i n g up at t h e branches to  see i f I c o u l d see the l i t t l e  I used t o t e l l  Rino t h e r e was  When he was  Rino would  cry desperately.  s e e i n g t h e l i t t l e b l u e b i r d f l u t t e r i n g around me,  relieved.  I'll tell  littl  a l i t t l e b l u e b i r d i n t h e woods  and t h e h u n t e r s had k i l l e d i t . Now,  blue b i r d .  I  was  Rino the l i t t l e b l u e b i r d ' s a l i v e , I  thought. I  s t a r t e d walking a g a i n t h i n k i n g about how I was i n the  ogre's kingdom. ogre's garden;  I got o f f a t the ogre's s t a t i o n ; t h i s i s the t h e ogre has a house t h a t ' s t i n y from the  o u t s i d e and huge i n s i d e , t h a t house o f h i s . The ogre doesn't want people t o come i n t o h i s kingdom. kingdom a l i v e , I thought, t h i n k i n g , I'm a l i v e , I'm w a l k i n g .  Nobody l e a v e s t h e ogre' here, I'm  awake, I'm  And I thought about how I was w a l k i n g t o  go f r e e t h e f a i r y t h a t t h e ogre was k e e p i n g c a p t i v e i n h i s house, t i n y from t h e o u t s i d e and huge i n s i d e .  The f a i r y  was  being h e l d c a p t i v e by the ogre, and she had t o be f r e e d .  The  ogre's b i g and f a t ; he's got b i g l o n g n a i l s ; the ogre i s u g l y and t h e f a i r y i s d e l i c a t e and r e f i n e d . to  And I was w a l k i n g  go f r e e the f a i r y . But where's the ogre's house?  " Y o u ' l l see a f a i n t  l i g h t ! " c h i r p e d the l i t t l e b l u e b i r d t h a t was f l y i n g above me and s p r e a d i n g a wing over my  head.  And I walked, walked, s i n k i n g my f e e t i n t o boggy ground, p u l l i n g them out and t h i n k i n g , There's no quicksand!  240  U n t i l f i n a l l y - I saw a f a i n t l i g h t . house," t h e l i t t l e b l u e b i r d I in  "That's t h e ogre's  chirped.  s e t o f f towards t h a t f a i n t l i g h t , t h i n k i n g , The ogre's  there.  He's w i t h t h e blonde f a i r y .  Hurry up...  I'm h e r e , I'm awake, I'm a l i v e , I'm w a l k i n g .  Now I  c o u l d make out t h e ogre's house; i t was a l i t t l e t i n y house a l l r i g h t ; I c o u l d see i t , I s t a r e d a t i t and s a i d t o myself, 'I  see i t ! ' Then I got t o i t and peeked i n t h e window.  a huge b i g f a t guy, o l d and naked.  The o g r e .  I c o u l d see  He had b i g  u g l y hands, u g l y ogre f e e t , a round h a i r y stomach, l o n g b l a c k h a i r s on h i s h a i r y c h e s t . c o u l d see h i s jaws moving.  He was d r i n k i n g and e a t i n g . The ogre!  I  He was s t a r i n g w i t h  f i e r y eyes a t a l i t t l e blonde g i r l w i t h sky-blue eyes - t h e little  fairy.  I'm h e r e , I'm awake, I'm a l i v e , I can touch t h e ogre's house, I can see t h e ogre and t h e f a i r y ; t h e ogre and t h e f a i r y , and I'm i n t h e woods; t h e ogre and t h e f a i r y . The ogre kept on e a t i n g and d r i n k i n g , making g u t t u r a l noises. at  I t l o o k s l i k e t h e f a i r y i s s c a r e d , l i k e she's l o o k i n g  him w i l d l y . But now t h e ogre g e t s up and d i s p l a y s a f r i g h t f u l manhood.  The f a i r y c l o s e s h e r eyes and dances; she dances and meanwhile she s t a r t s s t r i p p i n g . The f a i r y a l l  The f a i r y ?  Now she's naked; t h e f a i r y ?  r i g h t ; and she's e n t i c i n g t h e ogre.  241  I s t a r e a t t h e f a i r y and r e c o g n i z e h e r as a t w o - b i t whore; I s t a r e a t t h e ogre and r e c o g n i z e him as a small-time industrialist.  I s t a r e a t t h e house and r e a l i z e i t ' s a shack  on t h e T i c i n o .  "Ah!" I y e l l a t t h e l i t t l e b l u e b i r d .  two  get s c a r e d and open t h e door.  you're doing here?" t h e f a i r y  Those  "What t h e h e l l do you t h i n k  yells.  The i n d u s t r i a l i s t l o c k s me up i n h i s c a r . A l i t t l e w h i l e l a t e r we're r a c i n g a l o n g a t an i n s a n e speed.  The i n d u s t r i a l i s t ' s  d r i v i n g l i k e a madman.  I n the  back s e a t , t h e whore's s i n g i n g a t t h e t o p o f h e r l u n g s .  I  can see t h e shadows o f t r e e s and houses and houses and t r e e s go a c r o s s h e r p a l e f a c e ; and t h e i n d u s t r i a l i s t keeps d r i v i n g f a s t e r and f a s t e r ; a hundred-eighty, twenty, t i l l  two hundred, two hundred-  we g e t t o t h e b r i d g e over t h e T i c i n o ; but t h e  b r i d g e doesn't  have any r a i l i n g .  The c a r r a c e s a l o n g p o i s e d  on t h e v e r y edge o f t h e b r i d g e , u n t i l I scream and wake up, soaking wet as i f I r e a l l y had f a l l e n i n t o t h e r i v e r . I look at the time.  One minute's gone by.  XIX.  I n t h e morning t h e r e was somebody knocking a t t h e door. It  was my c o l l e a g u e D r i v a u d i w i t h Rosa. "You  do i t ! "  can't l i v e by y o u r s e l f , " she s a i d .  "Come on; j u s t  242  I t r y and act i n d i f f e r e n t . "Everybody knows by now, Rosa was  Mombelli," she t e l l s  l o o k i n g at me u n e a s i l y , w i t h an  ashamed l o o k i n her  me.  unhealthy,  eyes.  " I f you marry t h i s g i r l , " D r i v a u d i went on, " - l i k e I t o l d you before - i t ' s l i k e p u t t i n g t h i r t y m i l l i o n i n the bank." I t h i n k about how a man  t h i s s p i n s t e r schoolteacher's  b a r e f o o t , and I get up and show my  f e e t so she  them on top and underneath, l i k e Rino y e s t e r d a y . l o o k i n g at my  f e e t and I moved my  never seen can  see  They were  t o e s and had t h i s  erotic  feeling. I've  got a son i n j a i l , I t h i n k , and I t h i n k about f e e t .  But then I t h i n k about how my  toes again w i t h r e l i s h .  my  toes.  he's And  not my  son and I s t a r t moving  they stand t h e r e s t a r i n g at  "Don't go to s c h o o l ! " D r i v a u d i s a i d . " I am going," I answered. I l o o k e d i n the m i r r o r b e f o r e I went o u t . face, a t o r t u r e d expression that I l i k e d .  I had  a white  As I went t o school  I thought t h a t Rino had planned h i s revenge so t h a t he'd me  r i g h t i n my  tar.  And  i n s t e a d I'd kept the  d i g n i t y of d i s p l a y i n g myself i n my  conceited  almost t r a g i c  situation.  Seeing the school and a l l the people i n f r o n t o f i t , the way  a c t o r s must f e e l when they have t o go on  I  felt  stage.  Everybody knows, I thought, remembering D r i v a u d i ' s words; and I took p l e a s u r e i n my  position.  get  The p u p i l s '  243  f a m i l i e s moved a s i d e as I went by; I f e l t l i k e I was b e i n g watched, f o l l o w e d , and I thought about how r i g h t then I must have had t h e e x p r e s s i o n a r t i s t s have.  The a s s i s t a n t super-  i n t e n d e n t shook my hand and s a i d , "Have f a i t h , t h e way we always have!  Your son w i l l be r e s t o r e d t o s o c i e t y , t o l i f e ,  to l o v e ! " My c o l l e a g u e s l o o k e d a t me out o f t h e corner o f t h e i r eyes.  The k i d s s a t q u i e t l y a t t h e i r desks, eyes wide, s t a r i n g  at me, good as g o l d .  I s a t t h e r e w i t h my hands on my head  s t a r i n g a t t h e t o p o f my desk, but t h a t was a pose t o o . Every once i n a w h i l e some c o l l e a g u e would f i n d some excuse t o come i n . "I'm r u i n e d , " I s a i d t o F i l i p p i . He g e s t u r e d .  " G e t t i n g i t up?  As l o n g as you can get  i t up, you're a l l r i g h t ! " Then C i p o l l o n e came i n , "I'm so s o r r y ! he k i l l e d t h r e e  I s i t r e a l l y true  people?"  "Come on; t h r e e  people!"  " I r e a l l y am s o r r y .  And i t was so important  him t o become a Group A...  I'm r e a l l y s o r r y !  time w i l l t e l l . . . a n d time told...I'm  But I t o l d you;  so s o r r y . "  Then t h e p r i n c i p a l / a s s i s t a n t superintendent the evaluation p e r i o d .  t o you, f o r  "We'll be understanding,"  came i n f o r he s a i d ,  "even i f you d i d n ' t r e p r e s e n t us as you should have!"  And he  s t a r t e d i n t e r r o g a t i n g t h e k i d s w h i l e I kept on s i t t i n g t h e r e , depressed.  244  " L e t ' s see how we're doing w i t h those l o o p s , " t h e a s s i s t a n t superintendent  said.  He l o o k e d a t t h e c l a s s - r e g i s t e r and s i g h e d . Again! much!  "Again!  We have f a i t h i n man, but you t e s t our f a i t h t o o The d s t i l l h i g h e r than t h e 1.  My dear man, don't  you r e a l i z e t h a t t h e 1 i s t h e h i g h e s t l o o p ? . . .  And here your  f i s n ' t t o u c h i n g e i t h e r t h e l i n e above o r t h e one below...and the h i s w r i t t e n so b a d l y i t l o o k s l i k e a t . I ' d read this...we'd  read t h i s as a t . Where's t h e l o o p ? "  He went on t o check out whether I was f o l l o w i n g my lesson-plan.  " L e t ' s see t h e word l i s t ! " he s a i d .  " L e t ' s use  t h e O.R.E. method!" "Ore?" I s a i d . "Exactly. nut-tree.  "Observe, R e f l e c t , Express."  Now, t r y and d i r e c t a c o n v e r s a t i o n about t h e  Mr. Mombelli,  we urge you t o make s u r e t h e con-  v e r s a t i o n i s a f e r t i l e s p r i n g o f l i n g u i s t i c l e a r n i n g , as w e l l as an e x e r c i s e i n wisdom!  The n u t - t r e e !  L e t ' s s e t up an  outline: . "Where have you seen a n u t - t r e e ? " "How many meters h i g h was i t ? " "What was t h e trunk  like?"  "What was t h e bark l i k e ? " "Which way do t h e branches go?" "What were t h e n u t - t r e e ' s l e a v e s l i k e ? indented?" "What a r e t h e n u t - t r e e ' s f r u i t s  like?"  Composite o r  245  "How  i s the n u t - t r e e l i k e t h e  chestnut-tree?"  "How  i s the n u t - t r e e d i f f e r e n t from the  "How  many k i n d s o f n u t - t r e e do you know?"  chestnut-tree?"  "What k i n d o f s o i l does the n u t - t r e e grow.in?" "What i s i t s f r u i t good f o r ? " "What are i t s l e a v e s good f o r ? " " A l l r i g h t , Mr. Mombelli,  d i r e c t the  conversation.  C o r r e c t any obscure d i a l e c t a l e x p r e s s i o n s ; p r a i s e the apt correct expression.  P o i n t out t h e smooth f l o w i n g  the s u i t a b l e use o f an a d j e c t i v e . them, even those who know what t o say. You  And  and  sentence,  converse w i t h a l l o f  would r a t h e r be s i l e n t because t h e y don't  There's so much t o say about the n u t - t r e e !  see, Mr. Mombelli,  i t i s our duty t o cause t o s p r i n g f o r t h  the spark o f i n t e r e s t , the p e r s u a s i v e i n v i t a t i o n t o speak... And  above a l l remember, not O.R.E. but O.R.E.D.  R e f l e c t i o n , E x p r e s s i o n , and D r a m a t i z a t i o n . Mombelli;  come now,  I began.  Observation,  Dramatize,  Mr.  dramatize!"  " C h i l d r e n , the n u t - t r e e i s the t r e e t h a t  produces n u t s . " Then I s t a r t e d e x p l a i n i n g what t h e nut i s . Every once i n a w h i l e t h e a s s i s t a n t superintendent "More drama!  would i n t e r r u p t  me,  More drama!"  At the end o f t h e e v a l u a t i o n p e r i o d t h e a s s i s t a n t superintendent  t o l d me,  r e p r e s e n t a t i o n we said.  We  "You  were not up t o the m i s s i o n o f  c o n f e r r e d upon you.  Transeat, as the L a t i n s  promised you we would l e a v e a n i c e s m e l l .  We  are  246  g i v i n g you an e v a l u a t i o n o f v e r y good, so t h a t you can go on to  the second s a l a r y b r a c k e t o f p o i n t t o t a l 202...  Even i f  we a r e d i s s a t i s f i e d w i t h your l o o p s ! "  XX.  They sent Rino t o reform s c h o o l . more about him.  I won't hear a n y t h i n g  We're dead t o each o t h e r .  I keep going day a f t e r day, between home and s c h o o l and l o n g walks.  I c a t c h myself s t o p p i n g i n f r o n t o f l i t t l e  f a c t o r i e s , small-time f a c t o r i e s , and I t h i n k about how owners l e a v e something behind i n the w o r l d . but the f a c t o r y I little  the  The owner d i e s  remains.  c a t c h myself r e a s o n i n g l i k e t h a t i n f r o n t o f those factories.  So then I t h i n k about how  I'm  the c y c l i s t ; a b i g g e r  champion t h a n Coppi and B a r t o l i put t o g e t h e r ; and I r a v e down t h e s t r e e t . who  walked by me  And then I t h i n k h a r d about what somebody could think right  then.  I've burned e v e r y t h i n g l e f t from the p a s t . Ada's p i c t u r e and h e r c l o t h e s . another man,  To prove t o myself t h a t  I'm  I've changed my h a b i t s o r , t o be more e x a c t ,  I've changed the times o f my I  Rino's books,  habits.  s t a r e a t my t o e s and t h i n k about how  t h a t p a r t o f the  body's j u s t l i k e any o t h e r p a r t , l i k e elbows o r knees, o r hands.  247  But I can't get r i d o f t h a t f e e l i n g o f shame and modesty. Toes? in  And  I l o o k at them and s t a r e a t them, and  every once  a w h i l e I go t o some woman not so much t o s l e e p w i t h  as t o show her my  toes.  But most o f them couldn't  and t h e i r i n d i f f e r e n c e g i v e s me ance.  her  care l e s s  a f e e l i n g o f p a i n f u l annoy-  Toes.  I spend l o n g hours behind the window pane i n the s i l e n c e o f the n i g h t , and s t a r e at a s t a r and t h i n k about how a l l over I t a l y people are s e e i n g t h a t s t a r .  And I'm  glad to  s t a y awake at n i g h t and break the r u l e t h a t says you s l e e p at night.  But then I throw myself on the bed,  open t o hear t h e s t r e e t n o i s e s .  and keep my  I l i s t e n t o those  ears  squealing  t i r e s t h a t sound l i k e c h i l d r e n ' s screams; and I f a l l  asleep.  I n the morning I go t o s c h o o l , and t h i n k about how going t h e r e to pay my  dues t o l i f e .  I know I ' l l see C i p o l l o n e ,  and t h a t h e ' l l be t a l k i n g about h i s f e a s t s and about c h i c o r y h i t s the s p o t . legal status. up.  I'm  how  That B r a g a g l i a ' l l be t a l k i n g about  That F i l i p p i ' 1 1 be t a l k i n g about g e t t i n g i t  That P e s c h e t t i ' l l be t a l k i n g about a t h l e t i c phenomena.  That the a s s i s t a n t superintendent  wants me  t o watch my  That t h e r e ' l l be u n i o n meetings and pedagogical  loops.  meetings,  and  t h a t a f t e r s i x months o f s c h o o l t h e r e ' l l be t h r e e o f v a c a t i o n , and then s i x more o f s c h o o l and then t h r e e more o f v a c a t i o n . I'm  at p o i n t t o t a l 202.  I know I ' l l be t h e r e f o r f i v e  years; then I ' l l go on t o p o i n t t o t a l 229 where I ' l l be f o r ten  years.  248  Who  knows what p o i n t t o t a l I ' l l be at when I d i e ?  D r i v a u d i winks at me. Rosa l o o k s at me  "A man  can't l i v e by  and t u r n s r e d .  himself!"  She lowers h e r eyes  modestly. " J u s t f i g u r e i t out," D r i v a u d i t e l l s me.  "Two  salaries;  and f i v e l e s s o n s each i n the a f t e r n o o n , at f i v e thousand l i r e each, t h a t ' s f i f t y thousand l i r e ; salary right there. And  so t h e r e ' s  another  You've both got the r a i l r o a d  reduction.  she's got a hundred c h i c k e n s , and the p i g t h e y ' l l  and b e s i d e s And  she's a jewel!  she  spoints t o my  sloppy shave.  A jewel!  A JEWEL!  d i r t y s h i r t , my  butcher;  A doll!"  old suit,  my  "Mombelli, you need a woman!" she t e l l s  L a s t n i g h t she came over and t o l d me through a c r i s i s .  me.  Rosa's going  " I t doesn't pay t o be honest.  Men  like  f i b s b e t t e r anyway!" she t e l l s me Rosa s a i d . "How  can you l i v e on a 202  s a l a r y ? " she asked me.  l o o k e d at t h r e e eggs t h a t were on the b u f f e t . they  "How  She  much d i d  cost?" "S e v e n t y - f i v e • " " S e v e n t y - f i v e l i r e saved!" she s a i d .  answer by tomorrow.  answer.  your  Because t h e r e j u s t might be somebody  e l s e who'd take Rosa!" g i v e h e r my  "Give me  I promised h e r I'd t h i n k i t o v e r and  249  XXI.  I'm Bar.  i n the P i a z z a .  The  I t ' s 10 P.M.;  I'm  s i t t i n g at  the  r e p o r t e r has me l i s t e n t o a s t o r y i n s p i r e d by Rino's  situation.  " I d i d n ' t use names!" he s a i d .  I shrugged.  "Everybody knows by  now."  He p u l l e d the rough d r a f t o f the s t o r y out o f h i s b r i e f case and  read, "Inhuman son, ask f o r mercy!  have mercy on you.  The  o l d man  and he w i l l never  Your l i t t l e b r o t h e r i s among the  angels but you w i l l never know what angels son!  Your f a t h e r c r i e s !  mercy on you.  Ask  a r e , you inhuman  f o r mercy, and f o r God  F o r you do not know what angels  "You're a r e a l comfort," I t o l d "You  Now  he was  t o have  are."  him.  see?" he s a i d and moved o f f towards the  coach's t a b l e .  God  whom you beat up w i l l haunt  you; he i s ever b e f o r e you, inhuman son, l e a v e you i n peace, never!  Pray t h a t  soccer  d i s c u s s i n g the away game a g a i n s t  Leffe. "We take my  l o s t the home game a g a i n s t them because you a d v i c e ! " the r e p o r t e r y e l l e d .  "When we  didn't  play there  you've got t o have the c e n t e r forward p l a y wing and the wings play i n s i d e . . . " I'm  The  t e l l i n g you, I'm I knew he'd  coach nodded.  "And  i f you don't do  like  gonna a t t a c k you i n the paper!"  t a l k u n t i l e l e v e n - t h i r t y on the  I walked along t h e arcades. and the worker at t h e i r t a b l e .  I saw  dot.  the b i g i n d u s t r i a l i s t  I knew they'd l e a v e at  250  e l even-thi r t y • The  custom-built A l f a Romeo o f t h e small-time i n -  d u s t r i a l i s t and h i s g o l d - l a d e n w i f e drove i n t o t h e P i a z z a . I knew they'd get back i n t h e c a r a t e l e v e n - t h i r t y . The b i g f a t man was i n f r o n t o f t h e jukebox; I knew he'd o r d e r a sandwich a t e l e v e n . I walked a l o n g l o o k i n g a t those few bored, faces.  indifferent  I l o o k e d a t t h e Bramante tower and thought  about how  i t ' s been t h e r e f o r f i v e hundred y e a r s , how i t may be t h e r e f o r another f i v e hundred y e a r s . I kept on w a l k i n g and got a l l t h e way t o t h e f a i r g r o u n d s . There were c a r s parked i n f r o n t o f t h e s c h o o l s ; young men were h a g g l i n g w i t h g i r l s and women. as Eva.  I went on w a l k i n g .  I r e c o g n i z e d one o f them  I ran into Pagliani i n front of  the E x p o s i t i o n H a l l . " D i d you hear they've  r a i s e d t h e dependents'  f i v e hundred l i r e ? " he s a i d .  "And t h e l a t e s t :  allowances  our adult  e d u c a t i o n a l l o w a n c e ' l l probably be lumped t o g e t h e r w i t h t h e salary!  The Tenth Committee's s t u d y i n g  it."  I knocked on wood. "I'm  n o t s a y i n g t o vote f o r me," P a g l i a n i went on, "but  remember t h a t my p a r t y . . . " "Forget i t ! " I s a i d . "Oh,  so you're one o f those who says i t doesn't make any  d i f f e r e n c e too!  Do you r e a l i z e t h a t l a t e l y they've  taxes on b i l l i a r d s and pianos and d r a f t wagons?  abolished  They  still  251  have those taxes i n R u s s i a , you know!" Then he gave me some campaign pamphlets. p i c t u r e s o f him i n t h r e e d i f f e r e n t poses.  There were  I n t h e f i r s t one  he was dressed l i k e a p a r a c h u t i s t . "The Combatant," i t s a i d underneath. family.  I n t h e second pose he was t a k i n g a walk w i t h h i s  "The F a m i l y Man."  room p o i n t i n g t o t h e map. h i s whole c u r r i c u l u m v i t a e : examinations. Soccer C l u b .  I n t h e t h i r d he was i n h i s c l a s s "The Educator."  And on t h e back  Top honors on two c e r t i f i c a t i o n  S e c r e t a r y and founder o f t h e Vigevano J u n i o r s Took p a r t , w i t h t h e S e c r e t a r y o f Commerce, i n  the opening o f t h e Footwear Show. "Are you going t o vote f o r me?" he asked. " I don't know!" " I f I can do a n y t h i n g f o r you, j u s t l e t me know now. I f I remember r i g h t , your classroom's northwest, r i g h t ?  cold; i t faces the  You want t o t r a d e w i t h me?  east; l o t s o f l i g h t !  Mine's s o u t h -  I t ' s n i c e and warm; p l u s t h e desk i s  Regency s t y l e ! I ran i n t o Pisquani i n the P i a z z a . "You know, I was t a l k i n g t o t h e c h i e f a d m i n i s t r a t i v e o f f i c e r and t h e superintendent o f s c h o o l s t h i s morning, j u s t l i k e I'm t a l k i n g t o you r i g h t now! f o r me?  So, a r e you going t o vote  I f I get e l e c t e d t o t h e town c o u n c i l you can bet your  boots t h e y won't be g i v i n g t h e a f t e r - s c h o o l a c t i v i t i e s t o substitutes!  And I ' l l  r a i s e t h e pay t o twenty  thousand.  252  L i k e I was t e l l i n g you; I a l r e a d y t a l k e d  t o the  chief  a d m i n i s t r a t i v e o f f i c e r and t h e s u p e r i n t e n d e n t t h i s Twenty thousand l i r e more! from p o i n t t o t a l  morning!  L i s t e n , t h a t ' s t e n pay i n c r e a s e s  202!"  I s a t down at my u s u a l b a r . The f a t man was  e a t i n g a sandwich.  I looked at the  time; e l e v e n . The r e p o r t e r was y e l l i n g about the p e r f e c t f o r almost p o s i t i v e l y winning a g a i n s t L e f f e .  formation  The coach  was  nodding. " L e t ' s not take L e f f e l i g h t l y , f o r God's sake!  D i d you  see what happened at the home game?  You see what happened  'cause you d i d n ' t l i s t e n t o me?  p o i n t s g i v e n away t o  Leffe,  just l i k e  Two  that!"  "Urn," the coach s a i d . "Vigevano t h i s y e a r - i f you do l i k e I say - i s r i g h t up t h e r e ! inside  Vigevano's l i k e the Madrid Reales!  Panciroli  wing!"  "No!"  t h e coach y e l l e d .  "Panciroli right  The r e p o r t e r gave a l i t t l e s m i l e . wing, a l l r i g h t ! ?  "Panciroli  inside  P a c i r o l i as i n s i d e wing t h e r e ' s h a r d l y  anybody t h a t p l a y s l i k e him; nobody's got t h a t fullback  fullback!"  speed!  As  he's a l o s t cause!"  "I'm  s e l l i n g P a n c i r o l i ! " the coach  "What d i d you say? Panciroli?  said.  D i d I hear you r i g h t o r what?  You s a i d you want t o s e l l  Panciroli?"  Sell  253  " I want t o s e l l P a n c i r o l i .  I bought him, I'm gonna  s e l l him!" "Wait a minute! Panciroli! Panciroli  L i s t e n , t h e whole team r e v o l v e s around  P a n c i r o l i i n s i d e wing, o b v i o u s l y . and you're throwing away a  You s e l l  champion!"  "What a p i e c e , " t h e coach s a i d , p o i n t i n g a t a g i r l going by. " Q u i t changing t h e s u b j e c t .  T e l l me what's going on o r  I ' l l w r i t e an a r t i c l e t h a t empties t h e stadium out so f a s t . . . Are you gonna t e l l me e x a c t l y what you p l a n t o do w i t h Panciroli?" "I'm keeping him; s a t i s f i e d ? " " I f I f i n d out t h e r e ' s n e g o t i a t i o n s f o r P a n c i r o l i , y o u ' l l see what I put i n t h e paper!" The i n d u s t r i a l i s t w i t h t h e c u s t o m - b u i l t c a r and t h e bejewelled wife j u s t got here.  "That c a r o v e r t h e r e doesn't  even average a hundred," t h e coach "A hundred; you k i d d i n g ?  said.  That's an A l f e t t a ! "  "From Vigevano t o B a r i i t doesn't even average a hundred!" "'Cause o f t h e t r a f f i c  jams!"  When t h e A l f a Romeo d i s p u t e i s over o r , r a t h e r , the  suspended,  r e p o r t e r and t h e coach take up t h e d i s p u t e about t h e game  a g a i n s t L e f f e and about P a n c i r o l i a g a i n , more v i o l e n t l y than before. I t ' s g e t t i n g c l o s e t o e l e v e n - t h i r t y , and both o f them a r e yelling.  254  The f a t man's f i n i s h e d e a t i n g h i s sandwich. sprawled out t h e r e d i g e s t i n g i t . and put on V o l a r e .  He's  I go over t o t h e jukebox  Modugno's v o i c e pours out i n t o t h e a i r .  Now t h e r e p o r t e r comes over and asks me i f t h e s t o r y ' s O.K.  " I t O.K. o r i s n ' t i t ? " I t e l l him yes.  Same d i f f e r e n c e ; yes o r no, he'd  p u b l i s h i t anyway. It strikes  eleven-thirty.  The r e p o r t e r goes o f f w i t h t h e coach.  The small-time  i n d u s t r i a l i s t gets i n t o t h e custom-built c a r w i t h h i s w i f e , and t h e c a r d r i v e s o f f .  The b i g i n d u s t r i a l i s t says good  n i g h t t o t h e worker; t h e worker p e d a l s o f f i n one d i r e c t i o n , the i n d u s t r i a l i s t d r i v e s o f f i n h i s c a r i n t h e o t h e r d i r e c t i o n . The P i a z z a Ducale i s d e s e r t e d .  The moon i s r e f l e c t e d  i n t h e s t a i n e d - g l a s s windows o f the Duomo. yawn i n t h e doorways o f t h e b a r s . away.  The w a i t e r s  Modugno's v o i c e fades  Everything i s s i l e n t .  I t h i n k about how i t ' s Monday.  I t r y t o remember where  I was t e n years ago on a Monday o f t h i s month.  And i t  s t r i k e s me t h a t I was r i g h t here, t h a t I ' d seen t h e same people and the same scenes as t o n i g h t . I think.  Ten years from now?,  And I t h i n k about how t e n years from now I ' l l  be a t  p o i n t t o t a l 229 s a l a r y bracket #4. E v e r y once i n a w h i l e t h e P i a z z a ' s conventual i s broken by t h e r o a r o f some c a r o r a motorbike.  silence  255  The neon s i g n s f l i c k e r .  The l i g h t s go out i n a few  d i s p l a y windows. It  s t r i k e s eleven-thirty again.  That b i g b e l l ' s  been  s t r i k i n g t h e hours and t h e h a l f - h o u r s f o r two hundred y e a r s ; and some people a r e h e a r i n g i t f o r the f i r s t time and some f o r the l a s t .  Why  knows when t h e y ' l l  replace that b i g b e l l ?  I s t a r t w a l k i n g towards home, which*11 be as c o l d and d e s e r t e d and s i l e n t as t h e P i a z z a .  I l o o k at a l l the  darkened windows, and t h e few t h a t are s t i l l l i g h t e d .  I  t h i n k about how I*d l i k e t o be i n v i s i b l e so I c o u l d go i n the  houses. I walk t h i n k i n g about how I*m w a l k i n g and how I*m  how  t o g e t h e r these houses I see make up Vigevano; how  a l i v e , I*m  awake, I*m  b r e a t h i n g and l o o k i n g and I*m  here; I*m  here,  s t i l l here, s t i l l here. I l o o k a t the cracks i n the sidewalk and I say, "They're cracks i n t h e sidewalk."  And I get t h e i d e a o f jumping over  them o r e l s e going around them.  Point t o t a l  I hear t i r e s s q u e a l i n g f a r away.  202.  I t h i n k about how  would*ve l i k e d i t b e t t e r t o hear t h a t squeal from my Point t o t a l  I  house.  202.  I t h i n k about how today's over t o o , how the n i g h t ' s going by, how days i t ' l l total  202.  from Monday you go t o Tuesday.  And i n a few  be Monday a g a i n and t h e n Tuesday a g a i n .  Point  256  I t h i n k about how  the f u t u r e ' l l be the same as the  so many months o f s c h o o l , so many months o f v a c a t i o n . when t h e r e ' s s c h o o l I t h i n k j o y f u l l y about how by and v a c a t i o n ' s g e t t i n g c l o s e r . t h i n k j o y f u l l y about how  past; And  time's  going  When t h e r e ' s v a c a t i o n I  i t ' s going by too and another year  o f school'11 be s t a r t i n g . What'11 happen t o me  Point t o t a l tomorrow?  202,  I p r e d i c t I ' l l get  up  around e i g h t ; t h a t at eight-twenty I ' l l be at s c h o o l ; t h a t I'll  see the same o l d f a c e s .  That I ' l l say, "Good morning,  Mr.  A s s i s t a n t Superintendent," fawningly,  for  the very good on my  the classroom  and  evaluation.  And  j u s t t o thank  him  I ' l l shut myself i n  repeat the same t h i n g s I've been r e p e a t i n g  and r e - r e p e a t i n g f o r twenty y e a r s . I'm factory.  going by the p l a c e t h a t used t o be Ada's l i t t l e I touch i t .  I l o o k at i t .  p l a c e and t h i n k about how  I l o o k at t h a t  I got i t g o i n g .  I f e e l a kind of  s a t i s f a c t i o n , but r i g h t away I t h i n k about how courage was  imposed on  l i f e was  I t e l l myself,  f a c t o r y and t h i n k about how  I've  still  got p l e n t y o f  my  life  me.  I s t a r t w a l k i n g a g a i n , more r e l i e v e d . about Rino and get a lump i n my He's  maybe  and  wrong but not wasted.  And I t h i n k about how ahead o f  that act of  me.  'Imposed because I wanted i t t o be,' I l o o k at the l i t t l e  little  not my  son!  The  throat.  Suddenly I t h i n k  So what; I t h i n k ,  s i n s o f the mothers are  revisited  257  upon the I  sons.  r e a l i z e I'm  It  strikes  hopelessly rhetorical.  midnight.  E v e r y day l i t t l e things'11 happen; new l i t t l e  things  a l l the time, and t h a t ' l l d i s t i n g u i s h one day from the next; I'll  fill  up my time w i t h l i t t l e t h i n g s , b e s i d e s p a y i n g  d a i l y dues t o I'm  my  life.  i n bed.  the room around.  I l o o k around me.  I think I ' l l  change  I've t r i e d t o get r i d o f e v e r y t h i n g o f  Ada and Rino's; I t r y hard t o f o r g e t them completely, but then I l o o k a t my t o e s .  T h i s toe complex i s p a t h o l o g i c a l .  Tomorrow D r i v a u d i ' 1 1 come f o r my f i n a l answer about Rosa. salary.  Two  p o i n t t o t a l 202 s a l a r i e s equal one Group A  On one s a l a r y , one person l i v e s badly; on  s a l a r i e s , two people l i v e w e l l . daughter, the s a l a r y , the p i g . doll!  P o i n t t o t a l 202!  A doll!  two  A jewel!  Devout, moral, good.  Only A  L i k e h a v i n g t h i r t y m i l l i o n i n the  bank. While I f a l l  a s l e e p I t h i n k about how  up g e t t i n g married!  I'm  going t o end  258  A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY  C o n t i n i , Gianfranco. Letteratura d e l l ' I t a l i a Unita. Firenze: Sansoni, 1968. pp. 1033-1035. D i z i o n a r i o Generale d e g l i A u t o r i I t a l i a n i Contemporanei. Ed. M a c c a r i - Zumbini. F i r e n z e : Vallecchi Editore, 1974. I I . Manacorda, G. S t o r i a d e l l a L e t t e r a t u r a I t a l i a n a Contemporanea. Roma: Ed. R i u n i t i , 1967. M a s t r o n a r d i , L u c i o . I I Maestro d i Vigevano. Torino: G i u l i o E i n a u d i E d i t o r e , 1962. Montale, E u g e n i c " I I C a l z o l a i o d i Vigevano." C o r r i e r e d e l l a Sera, 31 J u l y 1959, p . 3. P e d u l l a , W. L a L e t t e r a t u r a d e l Benessere. Napoli: L i q u o r i Ed., 1968. Prisco, Michele. " D i e c i Anni d i Vigevano." Oggi» 19 May 1975. Rago, M i c h e l e . " L a Ragione D i a l e t t a l e . " V o l . I , I s s u e IV.  Menabo,  Vene, Gian Franco. "Per una S t o r i a d e l l ' I n d u s t r i a come Contenuto N a r r a t i v o . " Ragioni N a r r a t i v e , March I960. Vittorini, Elio. " N o t i z i a su L u c i o M a s t r o n a r d i . " V o l . I , Issue IV.  Menabo,  

Cite

Citation Scheme:

        

Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics

Share

Embed

Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                        
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            src="{[{embed.src}]}"
                            data-item="{[{embed.item}]}"
                            data-collection="{[{embed.collection}]}"
                            data-metadata="{[{embed.showMetadata}]}"
                            data-width="{[{embed.width}]}"
                            async >
                            </script>
                            </div>
                        
                    
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:
http://iiif.library.ubc.ca/presentation/dsp.831.1-0093800/manifest

Comment

Related Items