The Italianist: Io Sarò il Rovo, by F. Matteoni

Imagine, or think back to, The Little Prince (be it the Woods, Morpurgo, Testot-Ferry or any other translation). Now imagine how that story, born in the immediate aftermath of authoritarianism, war, and censorship, might find new roots in a very physical, reachable small mountain area in central Italy. The story maintains its whimsy, its fairy-tale qualities, and its dual audience of children and adults; it also gains a darkness, an exploration of the uncannily familiar, and of the more secluded areas that exist dotted outside of Italy’s main metropolitan centres.

Walking is good for your thoughts, it tunes them, gathers them in the heart. And that’s where they breathe: they become thought-step, thought-ground, thought-tree, thought-sky. As I walk the town disappears, piece by piece, roofs for last, until it’s nothing more than a buzz, a voice that rises every now and then from the club’s courtyard or a rag of smoke swelling and narrowing from the chimneys. I walk up to the woods. It’s a summer afternoon and Freak, the old dog, is with me; he limps but never stops and sometimes, I think, we should all try the simply loyalty of animals that only need that touch of affection to be happy. Human and canine on the same haphazard road and it doesn’t matter which one speaks, which one pants, which one lunges into the green, which one barks, which one shakes their head, which one wags. We head for the Prataccio and as we walk I tell him a story in the language of lovers. He sniffs, notices everything I say, because his senses are still superior to mine.

Read the full piece at European Literature Network!

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