Vincenzo Consolo: La ferita dell’aprile [The Wound of April]
This book reminds me of Meneghello‘s Libera nos a malo. The main reason may well be because I only read it a few weeks before reading this book but, I think, there are other reasons. Firstly, both books received little attention when they were first published but are now recognised as classics of modern Italian literature. Secondly, both deal, in a relatively affectionate and low-key way, with an isolated Italian community and, in that respect, they are Italian novels and not European novels. Consolo’s characters have had more contact with the outside world, as his story is set in Sicily immediately after the war and they have come across Germans, French and Americans (some of whom are still there). Nevertheless, they are still relatively isolated and this isolation is reinforced by setting most of the story in an enclosed religious community where the main character is undergoing his education.
As with Libera nos a malo, the plot is minimal and does not matter. Unlike Libera nos a malo, this is not a nostalgic book but, rather, one that looks forward. For Consolo, the future is clearly with the young generation, as he sees the older generation squaring off for the fight that will engulf Italy, the fight between the Catholics and the anti-Catholics. Most of the story is told from the boy’s perspective and how he views the adult world but, more particularly, how he views the other boys, whom he tends to see as a group rather than isolated individuals. He has all the standard concerns of a boy growing up – sex, games, opposition to adults – coupled with the fact that he is an orphan, brought up by his uncle (whose tragic death at the end is a clear sign that he has now moved from being a child to being a man.) Like Libera nos a malo, this book is not sexy or earth-shattering but it is a fine coming-of-age novel but one that, like the Meneghello, has not been translated into English.
First published 1963 by Mondadori
No English translation
Published in French as La blessure d’avril by Le Promeneur in 1990
Published in German as Die Wunde im April by Suhrkamp in 1990