"All my books taken together form one, " Leonardo Sciascia conceded in his 1967 preface to Le parrocchie di Regalpetra; they form "a Sicilian book which probes the wounds of past and present and develops as the history of the continuous defeat of reason and of those who have been personally overcome and destroyed in that defeat." Sicily as Metaphor, an intellectual autobiography and companion piece to Sciascia's imaginative writings, resulted from the conversations he had toward the end of the 1970s with the French journalist Marcelle Padovani, correspondent for Le Nouvel Observateur in Italy and author of a history of the Italian Communist Party. Sciascia spoke to her of his family, his childhood, his career as a teacher; he replied to her questions on his writings, on his idea of the writer's position in the world and his function there; to other questions that have to do with Sicilian realities - with the Mafia, the Church - and their relation to Italian politics generally; and finally he expressed himself on the social crises in his country and in the world. Some fifteen years have passed since then. In Sicily as Metaphor what remains perfectly unaffected by the evolution of affairs is this portrayal of the man who in his time so fully exemplified the European man of letters - who in Europe has always been a public figure, with implicit public responsibilities. Even when discussing issues that have been obscured or superseded by recent events, there is an uncommon durability in Sciascia's reflections; and this is bound up with style. Some time ago a critic writing in the Times Literary Supplement noted that Sciascia's "style shows how strongly, how single-mindedly and intelligentlyhe has reacted against the candyfloss fluffiness of so much around him. What he has to say is compressed so tightly that his writing is rock hard, sometimes dry; in contrast to the almost crazy carelessness in the use of words so often found in Italy, his words are picked so exact
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