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Una crociera

 

Una crociera (Feltrinelli 2000) dispenses both with a first person narrative (as in Il talento) and with the omniscient narrator of 19th century provenance.
      In the closed space of a ship sailing from Genoa to Ajaccio, Malta and Istanbul, four characters meet and join up in a relationship that gets tighter and more destructive as time passes. They are Guido Rizzi, a clinical oculist famous for having written about some terrible syndrome that leads to blindness, who is using this cruise to try to revivify his childless marriage to Chiara, who is much younger than him. Even if Chiara is not withdrawing from him as he fears, she is still deeply affected by the boredom of a life seemingly devoid of sense. The third character that husband and wife get to know during their voyage, is a retired teacher of the humanities, Giacomo Pancaldi who is timid and naive, but tenaciously optimistic. The fourth character on the other hand is the destabilising element in the quartet, Bruno Brancucci, a young intellectual from Milan, who attacks the defenceless Pancaldi, but gradually turns more and more overtly on the "eye healer", as he contemptuously calls him in private. He therefore decides to seduce the wife, not so much because he is in love with her as to assert himself vis-à-vis his opponent. Guido Rizzi for his part hesitates to accept the clash, caught as he is by his tenacious, irrational love of his wife, and sees his own life threatened by the same disorder that in his eyes ensnares nature and thwarts science.
      And disorder does unexpectedly erupt on the carefree cruise, when a young boy is struck by blindness, and Guido Rizzi finds himself unable to diagnose or treat it. With the blind boy, one of the many figures in the circle, another important theme of the novel emerges, that of fatherhood. The painful and almost mute confrontation between Rizzi and Professor Peirè, the blind boy's father, repeatedly occupies the author's attention in the last section of the book.
      Only the four principal figures are observed from within with the technique that is generalised as indirect free speech. Even the long dialogues are given not from the view of the omniscient narrator (which is less and less acceptable nowadays) but from the view of the occasional observer, usually one of the participants in the discussion. In conclusion, the novel has no privileged point of view, and all the narrative skill seems to consist in maintaining the unity and line of the story's development in spite of the continually changing perspective. At no point in the story do the facts lose their relief or clarity. The reader is always in a position to follow effortlessly, without ever deluding himself that the story being read is something independent of the figures living and acting it.

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