One Way or Another

Todo modo

Carcanet Press
S. Rabonvich
April 26, 2023 April 29, 2023
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The novel, set in the seventies, has as its protagonist a famous painter, whose name is never mentioned, who needs a period of peace in solitude. Seeing a sign indicating a hermitage, the Hermitage of Zafer (not better defined geographically), the painter thinks of going there. He then discovers that the hermitage has been transformed into a hotel founded by the ambiguous Don Gaetano and that at certain times of the year it hosts people of high social class (ministers, politicians, bank directors...) for spiritual retreats.


About the book

What’s the argument of this book? I have no idea… really. I know we are in an unmentioned village (certainly in Sicily since Sciascia, if I remember correctly, wrote about Sicily), the protagonist, a painter, driving around sees a building that could be a hotel or a hermitage and that this is managed by priests. There are some strange meetings between the most powerful of the region or of the state, I didn’t understand it, and that there is a live rosary. Well, I managed to write something…so maybe I got the argument…

What I think

What have I read? I bought the book, I think, 23 years ago when my Italian teacher forced us to read Leonardo Sciascia’s books. I don’t even remember the other 2 I own and I don’t remember if I liked them (were they 2 or just 1? I don’t remember that either). The book is a piece of Italian history, I don’t doubt that, but I didn’t understand the purpose. Anyway I had to read this book since 23 years ago and since I tidied up the library and found it I finally decided to remove the unread washi tape from it (because all my unread books have a particular washi tape on the spine of the book).

But I think I miss the historical period in which it is written. I mean, since my professor made me buy it, he certainly explained the historical situation that gave birth to this book which I obviously don’t remember. So I think it’s really a school book, in the sense that it should be read in school.

However, I understood that Sciascia deliberately ended the book in this way because the “whodunit” is not at the center of the book, but what revolves around it, the institutions that are insufficient, the church itself that is corrupt, the politicians who, in order to have power, arrive to excess. Oh God, seeing what I wrote maybe I understood it, I just didn’t like the book.

I must say, however, that the characters especially don Gaetano, the priest at the center of everything is described very well. As well as the other characters who represent the other institutions.

I recommend it? Honestly no, if you don’t have to write for twentieth-century Italian literature class. For fun? No… also because there are some words unknown to me in the 2000s and the style is a bit tricky. Long periods with so many subordinate clauses, semicolons that we’re not even able to use now and colons inside colons.

But at least you understand why it’s called Todo Modo…. (not that I remember now! Should have written on my Notion page.)

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