Daniele Del Giudice: Lo stadio di Wimbledon [Wimbledon Stadium]
Roberto Bazlen, known as Bobi Bazlen, had a profound influence on literature in Trieste. You will sadly find little on him in English as he published little in his lifetime and even what was published after his death was certainly not major – a fragment of a novel and few other bits and pieces, none of which has been translated into English. He appeared as a character in two novels, introduced modern German and Austrian literature into Italy, helped get Italo Svevo‘s career started by bringing his work to the attention of Eugenio Montale, was a friend of James Joyce and promoted numerous Italian authors. This novel tells the story of an unnamed narrator who travels to Trieste and London to talk to those who knew Bazlen and to find out why he never did publish any work of significance.
The unnamed narrator, however, does not have much success. He starts in Trieste, looking for traces of Bazlen in bookshops and libraries and by speaking to people who might have known him but all he gets is slight glimpses, but nothing substantive and no answers to the question he poses – why he didn’t write. He has his theories. Writing didn’t interest him or he was beyond books. He is finally sent to Ljuba Blumenthal. She knew Bazlen and now lives in Wimbledon, hence the title. She offers two reasons for his behaviour. Firstly, she says, he wanted to make known what he thought was important. The second reason, and here she hesitated, was that there is a point in the lives of some people, where things change and you cannot go forward and Bazlen had reached that point.
Ultimately, of course, there is no hard and fast reason for his decision nor, of course, for many of the decisions any of us take. More particularly, for the unnamed narrator, who may or may not be del Giudice, you cannot reconstitute a life or even an epoch (such as Trieste between the wars) just like that. It has gone. You can remember it but memory is imperfect. Our narrator is left with more questions than answers – about Bazlen, about Trieste, about literature and about life.
First published 1983 by Einaudi
No English translation