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Il sito ufficiale di Ferdinando Camon

Ferdinando Camon

A Biography

Angela M. Jeannet
Ferdinando Camon
in "Dictionary of Literary Biography"
Vol. One Hundred Ninety-Six:
Italian Novelists Since World War II,
Edited by Augustus Pallotta,
Syracuse University,
A Bruccoli  Clark Layman Book
Gale Research
Detroit, Washington, D. C., London, 1998,
pages 68-76.

The author - A biography

Ferdinando Camon belongs to the generation of Italians whose early childhood occurred during World War II. His writings are intensely concerned with issues that have tormented and excited his contemporaries: the horrors of living through a war
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fought on one's own territory, Italy's rapid transition from being a predominantly agrarian culture to becoming an industrial society and a partecipant in mass culture, political terrorism, the import of psychoanalysis, and the linguistic and literary issues connected with such issues. His novels and essays as well as his willingness to explore the most disturbing trends of recent Italian history have made him one of the best known interpreters of Italian post-war culture.
Camon was born on 14 November 1935 in a small village in the province of Padua; near the town of Montagnana, wich is encircled by walls dating from the beginning of the second millennium. The town is also notable as the location where Italian director Franco Zeffirelli filmed Romeo and Juliet (1968). Camon belonged to a peasant family. He was ten years old when World War II ended and remembers well bombings and raids. From the branches of a tree where he used to climb, he observed the air duels between allied and German fighter planes and saw Italian Resistance fighters being hunted by Fascists and the German troops. One day he saw a relative, who belonged to the Garibaldi guerrillia Formations, surrender to the Germans in the middle of a burned-out wheat field.
He was holding in his hands his intestines that were escaping from a massive wound. That scene obsessively reappears in the novel titled La vita eterna (1972; translated as Life Everlasting, 1987) and in a poem "Occorrono interi millenni" included in Liberare l'animale (Freeing the Beast, 1973).
Camon began his schooling in the Montagnana area, then continued his studies in Padua's University, faculty of Humanities. He still lives in Padua wich his wife, Gabriella Imperatori, a journalist, whom he married in 1962. They have two sons, Alessandro and Alberto, who hold degrees in philosophy and law, respectively. Tall, dark-haired, and dark-eyed, Camon is an impressive presence in person. He is soft-spoken and eager to establish conctat with an interlocutor. This personable demeanor served him well early in his career as an interviewer. In fact his first two books consist of conversations with italian novelists and poets titled Il mestiere di poeta (The Poet's Trade, 1965) and La moglie del tiranno (The wife of the Tyrant, 1969), the latter of which was enlarged with the addition of an interview with Italo Calvino and republished as Il mestiere di scrittore (The Writer's Trade, 1973). The subjects interviewed include Alberto Moravia, Vasco Pratolini, Giorgio Bassani, Carlo Cassola, and Pier Paolo Pasolini.
Camon's perceptive and informative interviews show his intense interest in literary matters such as style and theme. He created a new toll for critical analysis, what Camon calls "una critica parlata" (spoken critic), a true dialogue, in which a reader-critic and a writer speak to each other as peers. The ambiance as well as body language are significant factors in the exchange. The conversations focus on the relationship between technique and experience, literature and its social context, and reception and self-evaluation.
The dialogue is doubly revealing, for Camon conveys the sense of his own contribution to the exchange, not only by the aptness of his questions but also by the originality of his views and familiarity with the dilemmas and pleasures inherent in the process of writing. Two themes are particularly prominent: the complexity and determinant function of linguistic factors, and the fundamental significance of the social and cultural changes that have occurred in society. The titles of the two collections exploit the ambiguity of the Italian term "mestiere", which corresponds to "trade" as well as "craft". It is clear that Camon is concerned both with the trade a writer exercises in the world and with the culturally imposed apprenticeship it assumes. In his own career as a novelist, he often entertains the same fundamental questions: What is the writer's trade? How does one learn it? Why and for whom does one write?
Camon's initial novel, Il quinto stato (1970, translated as The Fifth Estate, 1987), was the first of the three novels in what he called "il ciclo degli ultimi" (The Saga of Those Who Are Last). The Enlightenment had focused on the "third estate", the bourgeoisie, and in the nineteenth century a "fourth estate", the proletariat, had emerged. Camon, however, refers to a social stratum that had never had a voice, the peasant class. Il quinto stato  tells the stories of peasants who once lived in the Po Walley, hemmed in by marshy fields, contiguous to but light-years away from the Italian postwar "economic miracle". The protagonist is actually an entire people. Camon in his superb preface for the revised edition of the novel included in Romanzi della pianura (Novels of the Plains, 1988) characterizes as an alien and disappearing presence in the nation.
Camon evokes a harsh country landscape as he chronicles the demise of an entire way of life. The story he tells is neither demagogic, nor sentimental, nor easily associated with the narratives of the peasant-turned-industrial proletariat that were prominent in the nineteenth  - and early twentieth - century fiction. A first-person male narrator recounts his childhood and his discovery of the existence of a world beyond the Po plains. The eye that sees, the voice that narrates are double: they belong
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 at the same time to the consciousness that is still rooted in the native land and to that same consciousness after its separation from that world. Such a separation, whether it brings salvation or damnation, implies a transgression, and it has left a wound. Writing is the record and the expression of that dislocation.
Camon's style in this novel may be consired in the context of the issue raised by Ignazio Silone at the outset of his Fontamara (1931). What is the appropriates linguistic expression for a narrator striving to relate a story lived by people whose language was unknown, or despised, outside of their villages? His solution is original and highly effective as the book is written in the language the narrator learned in school but with a rhythm and images of its own. The result is a medium appropriate to the mature, cultured narrator while it conveys to the outsider the alien worldview of the illiterate, dialect-speaking peasants of the plains. The language is mixture of incongruous elements welded seamlessly together, incorporating both bits of dialect and some learned terms. The reader can hear in it the voice of a culture that had not been hard before, its silence born of isolation, humiliation, and fear that has lasted for centuries.
Because everything in the peasant universe is present and the future is nonexistent, the narration is atemporal  and presents a world where change is un-known: "Altro mai non avviene perché tutto è immobile"  (Nothing ever happens because everything is immobile). However, immobility becomes evidently if confronted by change. Midway through the novel, though, the narrator has a "mirabile visione"
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 (wondrous vision) of the city and its culture, so different from the peasants' world that it requires a different language: "Non sono diverse parole che indicano la stessa cose ma sono cose diverse indicate giustamente da parole diverse" (They are not different words that indicate the same things, but different things that are rightly indicated by different words). It is through the language and manners of a young city girl who is a guest at his houset that the narrator first catches a glimpse of what lies outside his closed universe.
The narrator's rediscovery of that diversity is accompanied by his sense of being nothing and his desire to be reborn within that new world of speaking, the city. He experiences the city as a structure that follows the hierarchical plan of Dante's heavens, with varying degrees of beatitude from periphery to center. The loneliness of Hell, or peasant life, is replaced by streets, buses, and cafés filled with people and by previously unimaginable comforts. Nevertheless, the city remains a foreign world. The narrator of Il quinto stato  ultimately reveals a long suppressed and double rage: rage for having been a peasant and rage at being confused in the city.
Pier Paolo Pasolini wrote an enthusiastic preface for this story of emigration and exile, which Camon in a fall 1988 interview for Italian Quarterly  characterized as "too passionate" for a young writer. Pasolini overlooked a fundamental difference between his own and Camon's vision. Whereas the older writer saw in peasant culture the unspoiled future of humanity and the promise of the subversion of capitalism and consumerism, Camon's narrator does not wish for the survival of the "culture of penury". He speaks of the impossibility of the survival of the peasantry, the foundation of such a culture.
In La vita eterna, the second book in the series, Camon examines World War II as seen by the people at the bottom of the social scale. For the peasants of Camon's world all wars are much the same: the armed invader is still and always Lord Ezzelino - the prototypical military conqueror who built the walls around Montagnana in the depths of the Middle Ages - and the gestures of domination and the atrocities differ little through time. Those crushed by history do not image the future for that word is synonymous with hope. Fear is a condition suffered historically by peasants, and it is a fear not of what may happen but of what will necessarily happen again because it has happened before.
The narrator speaks a literary language familiar to the reader, but Camon is able to infuse the narration with a hint of unreality, as though the story were coming through a simultaneous translator with imperceptible pauses. History, readers are told, is an alien construct of a culture that places goals at the end of straight lines and possesses a linguistic medium in wich events become a solid structure with a particular  meaning. The experience of subordinated people must be translated if they are to be heard at all. Being a victim in Camon 's world is to be caught in the labyrinth of history built by a foreign architect; it means becoming imprisoned in other people's versions of historical events. La vita eterna   was a bestseller in Europe, particularly in Germany where it contributed to the prosecution of an S.S. officer, mentioned by name, whose brutality was described.
Liberare l'animale, which won the Viareggio prize, is Camon's only book of poetry till now. (He plains to publish a second collection in 1998, "Dal silenzio delle campagne", "From the Silence of the Plains"). It is a slim volume in which he asserts that he is above all a writer by choice or vocation, malediction or grace. In Avanti popolo (Onward, the People! 1977), a collection of his periodical writings, he asserts: "L'orgoglio e la gioia di aver difeso la necessità del discorso poetico... può essere la gioia e l'orgoglio di chi ha inteso la condizione nella quale il mondo si trova, e ha temuto che la lingua gli si gelasse in bocca, ma non gli s'è gelata" (the pride anf joy of having defended the necessity of poetic discourse... may also be the joy and pride of one who has understood the plight of the world and had feared that his voice would die on his lips, but his voice hasn't died).
As  a critic Camon often explores the connection between ideology and language. He knows, as Pier Paolo Pasolini remarked in "Il mestiere di poeta", that language is a filter, a "social communicative convention", that the neutrality of language is a fallacy, and that the norm for validating and organizing experience is embodied in the language of the technologically advanced middle class. Camon lives in the universe of that norm and yet is aware of the norms that inform other, nondominant cultures. In  Letteratura e classi subalterne (Literature and the Subordinated Classes, 1974) he dissects the conflict of classes as it is embedded in the written language and within  which the writer is caught. He discusses the issue of writing in local dialects and the various positions taken by contemporary Italian authors such as Pasolini. In the section titled "Classi subalterne e letteratura: il codice interpretativo umile" (Subordinate Classes and Literature: The Humble Interpretative Code) there is a detailed and uncompromising analysis of the intersection of linguistic and cultural conflict. The reader witnesses the collision of two worlds and the rejection of each by the other. Camon
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(all page 72 features a copy of a manuscript excerpt from "Mai visti sole e luna")
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 publishes and rebuts a critique of Il quinto stato - not a review written by a fellow writer or a critic but a letter from one of his country relatives who felt betrayed by the novel and the writer's exposure of a culture both once shared. Ambivalent in his empathy for his relative's feelings, Camon as an artist argues that the critique is alien to the world of autonomous freedom that is literature. The criticism of the novel, he argues, is anchored in an archaic system of values that wishes to control what is said. And yet the urgency of those values is seared in the writer's memory. Pasolini agrees with the paesant author of the letter.
While he maintains his aesthetic argument, Camon allows his readers a rare glimpse into a world that has been made invisible because it is viewed as subordinate. He explicates the interpretive code of this culture, with its folk beliefs and its obeisance to Roman Catholic conventions, mythology and style. As in any religiously informed universe, no distancing, no detachment, no ambiguity is acceptable: "Il codice 'umile' è principalmente contenutista. Il contenutismo è principalmente realismo. Il suo realismo è esclusivamente moralismo" (The "humble" code is basically content-oriented. Content is interpreted as realism. Realism is interpreted exclusively as moralism). Literature is offensive to the culture of the sacred because it places itself outside that system of values and because it "uses" people for its own ends: "La sottrazione di valori lascia dietro di sè il vuoto... richiama l'immagine della letteratura come guerra" (The destruction of values leaves behind the void... it evokes the image of literature as war). The analysis raises important issues, for te conflict between the artistic and religious views is the same that sent author Salman Rushdie into hiding to save his life from fundamentalists.
The first of a two-book sequence that Camon called "il ciclo del terrore" (The Cycle of Terror), Occidente (The west, 1975) is about the eruption of a new brand of violence in the region of the Veneto and the western world, neofascist violence. The story is inspired by the actual struggle between an exhausted, discredited  bourgeoisie that has lost its hold on power and a poorly organized proletariat the cannot yet rule. Groups of the left and the right are the protagonists, and trough them Camon depicts the cycles of birth, development, and internal dissension that characterized Italian political life in the late 1960s and 1970s.
The narration in Occidente shifts between the first and the third person. The characters are marionette-like in their compulsive agitation, and the plot they follow, while intricate, is shaped by the larger elementary struggle of two groups vying for control, but Camon is neverthless able trough his first-person narrations to involve the reader in the action. The frequent intervention of the third-person narrating voice insures detachment, enabling Camon to dissect each moment in the cycle of violence with clinical precision while chronicling events for the reader. In this unique presentation of political rage, centuries-old hatreds between the classes play themselves out, inspiring in the narrator and the reader alike an unsavory attraction.
The chronicle of the collision between the neofascists and the students and workers, accurately reconstructed down to the transcription of political debates and ideological pamphlets, also has a dimension almost of hallucinatory fantasy. The characters, who happen to live at the historical moment when the transition of power from the old rulers to the formerly oppressed begins to take place, are "partoriti da una sconfitta... da un'esplosione  che ha fatto il vuoto alle loro spalle" (bred by a defeat ... by an explosion that created a void behind them). Their existence is a daily attempt to forget or avange that defeat, that explosion. It is not surprising that the last societal convulsion treated in the novel is marked by the decimation of the government and business leaders held hostage by terrorists.
Upon the publication of Occidente terrorist groups of the Right threatened Camon's life. When a 1976 film was based on the novel, he and his family had to leave town. Franco Freda, a neofascist leader, believed he saw himself in the protagonist of Camon's novel and filed a complaint against the author, which was dismissed. Freda, who later was condemned to life in prison for his crimes but then Freda was acquitted and released, subsequently had a day-long interview with Camon, which was published in I miei personaggi mi scrivono  (My Characters Write to Me, 1987). When Camon asked his interlocutor what was the innocence he claimed, the answer was: "E' innocente non colui che è incapace di peccare, ma colui che pecca senza rimorso" (innocent is not one who is incapable of sinning, but one who sins without remorse).
Since the 1970s Camon has become one of the major voices in Italian cultural life. Although opposed to punditry and uninterested in fashionable literary circles, Camon has participeted intensely in journalist life, contributing opinion columns to several major Italian dailies, including Il Corriere della sera, Il Giorno, L'Unità and La Stampa. He gathered these writings from between 1972 and 1977 in Avanti popolo. The title echoes the first line of a popular song of the Italian Resistence during World War II.
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Although Camon was deeply involved in the issues of a rapidly changing Italian society, he was still in his imagination drawn to his former life in the Po Walley and returned to that world with Un altare per la madre (1978; translated as Memorial, 1983), the last work of his Saga of Those  Who Are Last and winner of the prestigious Premio Strega award. Camon tells the story of man who returns to his native village to attend his mother's funeral. She belonged to a society where no one knew how to write, so its unwritten utterances and its memories are bound to die if they are not remembered or recorded. In attempting to reappropriate the world  he has left behind while carrying its burdens inside, the man shows how writing can enter the world of unwritten memories and treat them with dignity and love.
In Un altare per la madre  Camon depicts the traditions and values of an oral culture, with its gestures, aphorisms, and parables, trough a sophisticated literary approach. In contrast to his earlier, more generalized treatments of peasant culture, Camon concentrates here on the individual reality. The mother lives in an "earthen world" that Camon refuses to idealize or subjetct to tragic transfigurations. There is no idyllic contemplation of nature, and poverty is an enveloping presence. Exhausting work is an unavoidable as the weather, and violence is often experienced in atrocious ways, as foreign-speaking armies periodically bring war to an other-wise forgotten land. And yet the values dear to the mother and her people are deeply held and profound. They include solidarity, the refusal to take human lives, and a humility so profound as to be unaware of itself. The mother is one of the least among those who are last, yet the memory of her and her generous actions will live on in the altar her husband builds by hand out of wood and copper. The pace of the narrative parallels the slow, careful pace of the widower's manual work as the narrator concentrates on realising the details of peasant culture and builds "un altare di parole" (an altar of words). The two altars perpetuate the memory of an individual without isolating her from the collective  context that held and nurtured her. The material altar belongs to her "language", while the altar made of words is, as the narrator explains, a translation of that homage into the medium of another world: "Scrivo queste cose in italiano cioè le traduco in un'altra lingua" (I'm writing these things in Italian, that is to say I am translating them into another language).
Camon makes it clear that writing is an act of translation. It is building anew, using new materials but also a few irreplaceable bits of the old, the most poignant reminders of what is being lost, that could not otherwise be preserved. His book is not only the record of what is passing away but also a homage and a testimonial to the worth of his Saga of Those Who Are Last, a memorial written in the very language that excluded them. In the conclusion to his trilogy on the end of peasant civilization, the transition to the new culture of the written word is concretely consummated and symbolically performed. In this novel and in all his work Camon attempts to be faithful to human experience in all its diversity; expecially when he lends a voice to those historically silent groups excluded from the literary tradition.
In La malattia chiamata uomo (1981; translated as The Sickness Called Man, 1993) Camon turns to the agony of a man coming to terms with his own deep wounds caused by his separation from his native culture, but he also continues to probe the meaning of the act of writing. The novel is the first of a cycle that Camon calls "il ciclo della famiglia" (The Cycle of the Family), for he believes that the family is at the center of the dilemmas that individuals face in a postindustrial context of continuous changes. Camon began his career as a novelist with the exploration of a crisis of culture, continued by exploring the sociopolitical crisis of terrorism, and now he set out to examine the type of crises that cause people to turn to the analysis of the psyche.
In this story of a man's psychoanalysis, told in the first person by the subject of the analysis, the reader becomes privy to the rapport between the analysand and his analyst as well  as the narrator's fears, dreams, and obsessions. His abandonment of his native culture has  exacted a high price, as pride and shame are mingled in the hurt of having cut off his roots. Paradoxically, he learns that writing, which is a means of "speaking out", also silences the speech that is "Other". The language of rebirth, the language of literature, is also the language of loss and loneliness. Writing brings estrangement and a new imprisonment, a point poignantly made by the narrator of Un altare per la madre:  "Colui che non gli è permesso di usare la propria lingua non può essere felice e sentirsi libero. Più scrivo e più mi lego" (The one who is not allowed to use his own language cannot be happy and fell free. The more I write, the more I bind myself). Whereas earlier authors had to come to grips with the questions of how to speak of and to the Other, the questions Camon  wrestles with are more personal: How can one write of the self that is also the Other? How can one speak the language of the Other to speak the self?
Storia di Sirio: parabola per la nuova generazione  (1984; tralnslated as The Story of Sirio: A Parable 1985)  brought to completion the Cycle of Terror that Camon began with Occidente. Subtitled by Camon as "a parable for a new generation," the novel covers the various stages through which a young man comes to awareness during the 1970s. The protagonist, Sirio, is a rapresentative European youth from the upper middle class. The son of a wealthy and powerful industrialist, he is expected to find his place in the paternalistic, family-centered Italian society. The protagonist begins his maturing alone, as the under-study of his authoritarian father but is influenced more and more by a close friend and other young people. As Sirio becomes aware of social injustices, he gives up his social position and leaves home, refusing to abide by the conventions of his class. He joins a collective, participates in violent demonstrations, and experiences the failure of revolutionary activities. Sirio's personal development parallels and enriches his social maturation as he falls in and out of love, and experiences the loss of a friend who is betrayed by politics and drug addiction and sentenced to a long jail term. Having witnessed the destructiveness of violence and drugs, he ultimately turns to self-analysis with a group  of his peers. Camon shows a keen sensitivity to the atmosphere of the 1970s and the language the young. In this tale of a rebellious, earnest and intense generation, with its naiveté and its disastrous experiments, the reader perceives an authentically rendered dramatic moment in Italian history.
In La donna dei fili (A Woman Ensnared, 1986), the second volume in the Cycle of the Family, the female protagonist, who suffers the collapse of her family and has no true sense of direction in her life, resorts to psychoanalysis and embarks on a journey inside herself. The narrator who observes Michela, the protagonist, asserts that "L'entrata in analisi fa l'uomo più uomo, la donna più donna" (Entering analysis makes a man more manly, a woman more womanly). Whereas the male protagonist of La malattia chiamata uomo  went into analysis as if it were a war and confronted the powerful presences such as political party, his mother, and the Church that tormented his life, Michela goes inside her own dreams and fantasies.
During each descent Michela unlocks a compartment of symbols and begins a retrieval of meanings. Each relationship Michela has is a long thread that gets tangled with the other threads, until she feels she is suffocating: "Tutti volevano vivere a mie spese. Mio marito, mia figlia, mia madre. Tutti volevano vivere la propria vita, sapendo che potevano sempre contare sulla mia. Io non avevo scampo" (They all wanted to live off me. My husband, my daughter, my mother. They all wanted to live their lives, knowing that they could always count on mine. I was trapped). Through the psycoanalytical experience, however, she finds the strenght to live, though precariously, by herself and for herself.
At the end of the 1980s Camon began another two-volume cycle - "il ciclo della coppia" (The Cycle of the Couple) - with Il canto delle balene (The Whales' Song, 1989). Camon 's characters, particularly the males, seem ill at ease with the changes society is undergoing, particulary with the changing balance of power between men and women. Here, a professional man nearing middle age is asked by his wife and her therapist to participate in one of their sessions. What he discovers to his hutter dismay is that he and his wife's sexual activities, wich he believed they kept a secret between themselves, have become the subject of the analysis.
The comical fury of the husband makes this the most humorous of Camon's novels. When the hapless protagonist vents his frustation by having an affair, he asserts that he is only attempting to recapture a last glimpse of his youthful fantasies and regain a measure of privacy. While engaged in an adulterous relationship he actually feels as though he is remaining faithful to his wife. "Senza segreti - he says - non si può vivere" (Without secrets, one cannot live). In a further commentary on society, this dysfunctional couple is seen against the backdrop of a perpetual search for a something elusive and mysterious, whose metaphor is the tourists' pursuit of the sound of whales that cross in the distance off the California shore.
The second novel of the cycle, Il Super-Baby  (The Super Baby, 1991), treats issues of reproduction, gestation, and birthing in an advanced technological age. The male narrator in a long monologue laments being left out of the drama of childbearing. His early attempts at impregnating his wife having failed, he contemplates the conception and growth of his child from outside the process, as modern techniques of fecundation and parturition allow his wife to conceive and prepare for delivery. As grotesque images become more and more frequent in the novel, the foreignness and power of the maternal body is presented as intimidating for the male character, and a source of his hostility toward the female. The various moments in the saga of giving birth - says the author in the postscript -  can be read by men "come romanzi epici a puntate" (like cantos of epic poems), and it is obvious that the protagonist is disturbed by an epic in which he has no role. Again, Camon focuses on a character who feels lost and is filled with repressed rage in a trasformed society.
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In the late 1980s and into the 1990s Camon has resumed the interview-dialogue, the activity with wich he began his literary career. Edited and produced exclusively by him, the volumes published by Nord-Est (Northeast), whose title refers to the geographical area of Italy where he and several other prominent authors operate, give a voice to some of the most interesting of Camon's interlocutors, including a female reader who responds to La donna dei fili, Alberto Moravia, and - most movingly - Primo Levi. In Il Santo assassino: dichiarazioni apocrife  (The Saint Assassin: Apocharyphal Declarations, 1991), the interviewer has disappeared, and the interviewees speak alone. The script, however, is written by the absent interviewer, and readers soon realize that the unusual voices they are listening to are the fictions of a novelist's imagination.
In Mai visti sole e luna  (They Knew Neither Sun nor Moon, 1994) Camon returns to the land of his beginnings. He speaks again about the encounters that have taken place between the country people of the Po plains, the outsiders who cannot communicate with them, and the armies that throughout history have arrived in successive waves to torture, kill, and destroy. Camon's language is again rich in dialectal inflections, flavorful similes, and aphorisms. The narration flows as in a folk recitations and storytelling. Camon strikes a humorous note at the beginning of the book: "Quando le tragedie della storia si confondono, e il ragazzo interrogato a scuola nel datare un avvenimento sbaglia di tre secoli, vuol dire che non fanno più male: che ci siano state o non ci siano state non fa nessuna differenza" (When the tragedies of history get confused with one another, and the students in class are wrong by three centuries, it means that those events dont't hurt any more. It doesn't matter any longer if they happened or not). But the reader soon realizes that this is precisely the story of the events that some cannot forget. Camon's black humor, with its horrific details, guarantees that no forgiveness will be granted any tormentors on behalf of the victims. In his postscript Camon asserts that all that happened is destined to sink into silence, and it is this sense of loss and profound injustice that gives the text the raw power of desperate truthfulness. Such was the passion that caused Count Ugolino to tell his tale of inhumanity in Dante's Hell.
Ferdinando Camon is one of the best-known Italian authors of his generation and is well known the rest of Europe. In 1996 he pubblished the novel La Terra è di tutti, about the chaos in Europe resulting from the recent flood of immigration from Africa, Asia, and South America. Television films have been made of Occidente  and Un altare per la madre. In France Jean-Paul Sartre, to whom La vita eterna is dedicated, supported the translation  of all of Camon's works in the Gallimard collection. Also in France La malattia chiamata uomo has been adapted into a play. For Camon writing is not a marginal, solitary activity but a form of action, a transgressive as well as joyful impulse. He merges the desire to tells a story, to keep alive the memory of human experience, with a writer's passion for craft and a belief in the autonomy of literature. The effort to integrate literature and the great human dilemmas of his times are the vital core of Camon's writing.
(The bibliography follows).

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