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Leonardo Sciascia: Candido ovvero un sogno fatto in Sicilia (Candido or A Dream Dreamed in Sicily)

Sciascia’s novel is, of course, based on Voltaire‘s more famous Candide, the story of a naïve man who undergoes many trials and torments. The hero of this novel is Candido Munafò. Candido is born in a cave on the day of the Allied landing in Sicily. However, his mother, Maria Grazia, soon abandons him and his father for an American soldier, John H Dykes (the H stands for Hamlet). When his father kills himself, Candido is entrusted to his maternal grandfather, General Arturo Cressi. Cressi had been a Fascist but, ever an opportunist, now becomes a Christian Democrat because, as he says, the two are the same. Candido is brought up by two people – his governess, the simple Concetta, and a priest, don Antonio Lepanto.

The original Candide is a picaresque novel and so is this one. We follow the adventures of Candido with don Antonio, including his dabbling with communism (as Sciascia did), though more out of real conviction than as a political adventure, his love affair with Paola, the attempts of his relatives to take his property, which he does not resist, and his final love for Francesca in Paris. It is all very well done and a worthy successor to Voltaire.

Publishing history

First published 1977 by Einaudi
First published in English 1979 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Translated by Howard Curtis