There is a debate now going on in Italy: was Tiziano Terzani a secular saint, a Guru, or even “the lay Pope?” Terzani (see Wikipedia and The Guardian), before wearing a long white beard and robe and living in an Indian ashram, was a former war correspondent and an expert on China and Japan—he wrote for Der Spiegel, Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica—who covered wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan.
After the winning match against Germany of our national team at the Tuesday’s semi-final of the Worldcup Soccer 2006 tournament, it seems that it is time for the Brits to update some of their clichés on Italy and Italians:
Two Italian peacekeepers were killed and four wounded by a roadside bomb near the Afghan capital Kabul on Friday. […] The blast hit a two-vehicle Italian convoy about 20 km (12 miles) south of Kabul, on the main road to Logar province. The wounded were evacuated by helicopter. […] Italy handed over command of the force to Britain on Thursday. A Taliban spokesman, Mohammad Hanif, said by telephone from an undisclosed location that Taliban suicide bombers would increase attacks on British troops in the southern Helmand province, and would "turn the ground red" with their blood. [Read the rest]
Excerpts from Time’s special report on Italy, focused on The Fading Future Of Italy’s Young:
The life and martyrdom of Fr. Andrea Santoro, a Roman priest on mission in Turkey, by Sandro Magister, and a testimony—previously published by Asia News—of an Italian volunteer who knew him well.
After a long pause, he took off his glasses letting them hang around his neck and spoke again, calmly, as if talking to himself: “I am convinced that in the end there are no two ways, only one way that leads to light through darkness, to life through the bitterness of death. Only by offering one’s flesh is salvation possible. The evil that stalks the world must be borne and pain must be shared till the end in one’s own flesh as Jesus did.” Not one word more, not one less.
After he spoke silence fell on the room. Then he looked at his watch and got up quickly, apologised, picked up his small suitcase and left the room almost running. He didn’t want to miss the plane that would take him back to his Trabzon.
There he was kneeling yesterday, praying in his church. There a bullet pierced his heart.
AGI—Italy On Line report on Italian aid to Sri Lanka:
(AGI) – Rome, Dec. 26 – More than 50 million euro have already been invested in 42 projects, half a million euro put on one side for new initiatives or possible economic necessities for finishing works already under way. These are the figures for Italian aid to Sri Lanka, a country that lost 38 thousand people in the tsunami of 26 December last year. One year on a delegation from Civil Protection has returned to look over what is being done. The delegation is led by chief of Civil Protection, Guido Bertolaso, his deputy Vincenzo Spaziante. There are also Emma Bonino, Giuliano Amato and Andrea Monorchio, of the watchdog committee. Italians have raised 47 million euro (46,819,254 euro) to which have been added six million allocated by the Civil Protection department. There remain 535,117 euro still to be allocated. A total of 53.410 million euro is being used in 42 projects of which 25 are managed by NGO’s (who have a little under 20 million euro at their disposal), seven have been carried out by international and national bodies such as Fao and Banca Etica (which have been allocated eight million euro)) and ten are led by Civil Protection (which is managing 25 million euro). Of the 42 projects, 11 (14 pct) have already been concluded and concern, besides the equipping of camps and emergency centres and the supply of goods and basic necessities, the creation of permanent housing, the reconstruction of a hospital and the supply of equipment to resume fishing (the main activity of people hit by the tsunami). Particular attention has been given to education, which has been allocated almost 10 million euro that will help in the construction of 15 schools. "What’s important to underline – observed Bonino – is that we have already managed to create and conclude 11 projects very quickly and if one considers that it took around five months to get through the bureaucratic and administrative actions necessary in the countries where we are carrying out these projects." "The Italian people – he concluded – can consider themselves satisfied with the results achieved and above all of how their money has been spent. We hope that this successful operation can serve as an example in other future occasions of necessity."
Jonathan Lethem in The New York Times (registration required):
Calvino […] had managed effortlessly what no author in English could quite claim: his novels and stories and fables were both classically modernist and giddily postmodern, embracing both experiment and tradition, at once conceptual and humane, intimate and mythic. Calvino, with his frequent references to comics and folktales and film, and his droll probing of contemporary scientific and philosophical theories, had encompassed motifs associated with brows both high and low in an internationally lucid style, one wholly his own. As comfortable mingling with the Oulipo group in Paris (Georges Perec, Harry Mathews, Raymond Queneau and others, who spliced the DNA of literature with overt surrealist games) as he was explicating his love for and debt to Hemingway, Stevenson and the Brothers Grimm, Calvino seemed never to have compromised in his elegant explorations of whatever made him curious in nature, art or his own sensory or intellectual life. His prose was ambassadorial, his work a living bridge between Pliny the Elder, Franz Kafka and Italian neorealist cinema. And – I intuited then, I’ve heard since – he was a kind and generous person to meet, as colleague or student or friend.[…]I worry a little about the state of Calvino’s shelf, 20 years later. Not that any of his books are out of print; precisely the opposite. Calvino’s two primary publishers have been reverential in presenting nearly all of his many titles in elegant trade paperback editions, the bulk in an appealing uniform sequence from Harcourt Brace.[…]I speak as both a lifelong completist and a former bookstore clerk, one who watched and sometimes guided readers as they attempted to choose a book. Ennoble an author’s shelf with too many uniformly enticing editions, and the problem becomes one of luck in the reader’s selection.[…]
Italo Calvino never wrote a bad book. Yet an author of such diffusion, without a single, encompassing magnum opus to embrace (some readers will argue for "Invisible Cities," but that ineffably lovely book shows too narrow a range of Calvino’s effects, too little of his omnivorous exuberance) needs a beginner’s entry point, as well, perhaps, as a compendium to point toward posterity.