A Childhood

Elisabetto Ciancia

Price:
€ 12,00
Publisher: Cairo Editore
Pages: 160
ISBN/EAN: 978-88-6052-422-5

Synopsis
Inge is six and doesn’t know much about the war. She only knows that she and her mum are fleeing the big commandeered villa in Veneto where they’ve lived recently and where her mother, who is German, worked as an interpreter for the Wehrmacht commando. The Allies are advancing along with the partisans: though Inge doesn’t understand the significance, she senses that for her and her mum – her father, who was Italian, died years ago, her older brothers are far away and unreachable – they represent an obscure menace.

The German military column in retreat leaves them in a village in Alto Adige, where they will begin the long odyssey that will lead them through devastated post-war Italy, first to Naples, where to Inge’s great surprise a little sister is born, and finally further South in the big city of the two seas, where everything began. They no longer have anything, not even a real house, and their one time wellbeing is replaced with a barely decorous situation of precariousness. At this point, a hard and inviolable pact is sealed between the mother and daughter. A pact that imposes silence or, if necessary, lies about their past. The lies and the silence inevitably create an insurmountable wall around Inge that isolates her from the rest of the world. Thus her existence year after year leads her to a painful and unhappy adolescence in which a terrible blow, with indefinite contours that make it even more terrible, is the sentiment against which she combats a private war every day.

With a subdued but powerful voice, Elisabetta Ciancia narrates a negated childhood, the childhood of those children who found themselves on the «wrong side», in all countries and all wars.

The author
Elisabetta Ciancia, a long-time literary translator with a particular vocation for the Finis Austriae literature of Vienna and Prague (Joseph Roth and Alexander Lernet-Holenia, Leo Perutz and Johannes Urzidil), has also translated, among others, Rudolf Borchardt, Jeremias Gotthelf, Friedrich Hebbel, Gregor von Rezzori, Thomas Bernhard and Michael Ende. With an Italian father and a German mother, as a child she went through all the lacerations of the WW II and the post-war period, from the North to the South of Italy. The indelible impressions of those times are at the centre of this novel.

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