Modern Italy

Contexts and Debates

Leonardo Sciascia's L'affaire Moro: Re-writing fact, which can be stranger than fiction

Leonardo Sciascia's L'affaire Moro: Re-Writing Fact, Which Can Be Stranger Than Fiction

Joseph Francese 

Department of Romance and Classical Studies, Michigan State University, USA

Abstract

The author contends that Leonardo Sciascia's L'affaire Moro is not a work of non-fiction, as Sciascia proposed, but of historical fiction, and that Sciascia's Moro is a literary character, more a spokesperson for Sciascia's political views than a reflection of the historical figure. Sciascia's Moro embodies the same qualities as many of Sciascia's other protagonists, such as a radical individualism and willingness to sacrifice all in order to protect their dignity and liberty. What emanates from the text is a ‘postmodern’ blend that interprets and imposes a narrative hierarchy on events, and conveys a mental reality that need not necessarily coincide with what can be proven with evidence. In fact, Sciascia combines factual information and his own ‘conjectural knowledge’ to convince his reader of the ‘moral truth’ of his argument. Sciascia's is indeed a strong narrative in that it succeeded in shaping how the Italian public views to this day a critical juncture in its recent history.

Abstract

L'articolo afferma che L'affaire Moro non sia un'opera non letteraria, come lo stesso Sciacia suggerisce, bensì un romanzo storico e che il Moro di Sciascia sia un personaggio letterario, un portavoce della sua visione politica più che una rappresentazione della sua figura storica. In questo pamphlet, Moro incarna le stesse qualità di molti altri personaggi di Sciascia, come l'individualismo radicale e la loro volontà di sacrificarsi a protezione della loro libertà e dignità. Ciò che emerge dal testo èuna combinazione “postmoderna” che interpreta gli eventi e impone su di essi una gerarchia narrativa e che trasmette una realtà mentale che non deve necessariamente coincidere con ciò che può essere provato. Infatti, Sciascia combina informazioni basate sui fatti con proprie congetture per convincere il lettore della “verità morale” delle proprie argomentazioni. Quella di Sciascia èuna narrativa molto forte che riesce a delineare come il pubblico italiano veda in quel giorno un momento critico della loro storia recente.

(Received January 29 2011)

(Accepted April 06 2011)

Keywords

  • Sciascia;
  • Moro;
  • Red Brigades;
  • Jorge Luis Borges;
  • postmodernism;
  • historical compromise

Correspondence

Email: francese@msu.edu

Joseph Francese is Professor at Michigan State University, Senior Editor of Italian Culture (the journal of the American Association for Italian Studies), Editor of ‘Studi di italianistica moderna e contemporanea nel mondo anglofonojStudies in Modern and Contemporary Italianistica in the Anglophonic World’ (a monograph series published by Firenze University Press), and a member of the PMLA Advisory Committee. He is the author of more than three dozen articles and chapters on topics in Renaissance and contemporary literature, and has written books on Pasolini, postmodern narrative, and Italian cultural politics in the 1950s. His most recent book, Socially Symbolic Acts. The Historicizing Fictions of Umberto Eco, Vincenzo Consolo, and Antonio Tabucchi, was published by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. He has edited three volumes of collected essays, the latest being Perspectives on Gramsci: Culture, Politics, and Social Theory for Routlege. He is currently writing a monograph on Leonardo Sciascia, and a book-length study of political engagement among twentieth- and twenty-first-century Italian intellectuals.