Editorial

Soccer, Beauty, and Happiness

Dearest readers,
perhaps some of you will be surprised to find out that this Inkroci issue is dedicated to soccer. Convincing our editorial staff to accept a subject that most of them considered with complete disinterest, suspect, or simply with incompetence was not an easy task.
However, I was able to devise a judicious persuasion tactic. In soccer terms, I would define it a sudden counter-attack manoeuvre or, should I use a more up-to-date expression, a perfect break. To explain how things (or, better, how the match) went, I shall continue by deploying this very jargon, the one in which I had first experienced as a young reader.
During the editorial briefings, I had to face those who, just at the mention of soccer, reacted reminding me of the fans’ violence, the useless waste of money, the inclinations of some of its most prominent representatives towards racism, homophobia and corruption, and even the present failures of the Italian National team. Having to face all this, without denying but steadily undermining all my opponents’ points, I suddenly began to quote books and films.
I quickly remembered The Critical History of Italian Soccer by the skilful and brilliant author Gianni Brera, who regards soccer not as a game, but as the living and genuine image of the people who play it. And then British ethologist Desmond Morris’s The Soccer Tribe, which studies this sport (and its alleged load of violence) from a sociological standpoint, representing it as a new kind of ritualized chase, where the goal is the prey and the ball is the weapon to hit it. And eventually Nick Hornby’s autobiographical novel Fever Pitch (that later became a film), which reveals the real nature of the fans’ passion, and explains why, for those who love soccer through the support to their own teams, it will never ever be “only a game”, but, rather, an existential condition or, even better, a destiny.
When I perceived my opponents’ sudden lapse of concentration, and realized that my dribble was totally unexpected, I carried on with the match, defining soccer as a sport which creates Beauty, and finally closed it by quoting soccer as one of the major producer of Happiness. In order to do so, I called Umberto Saba, the great Trieste and Triestina football club’s poet, as my witness. Saba is one of the very few writers who could sense soccer’s secret, its dual gift of Beauty and Happiness, the precious, intense and ephemeral mixture that springs from it, and heals, for just some fleeting instants, the bitterness of life:

Few are moments as wonderful as this,
to whom, burnt by hatred and love,
is given, under the sky, to see.
(from Goal)

Dearest readers,
you know from experience that, whenever one starts talking about books and films to Inkroci’s editorial staff, one can easily take the lead. And you know as well that, whenever one’s words concern Beauty and Happiness, the lead simply turns into the clearest of wins. There’s nothing like Beauty and Happiness to win the match against Inkroci’s editorial staff. And indeed, the match was brilliantly won! That’s why soccer has gained its space in our magazine.
In this issue, as befits in summer, we will deal with soccer lightly. From time to time we will publish happy and nostalgic soccer stories, some funny and some moving. In turn you will see famous and ordinary matches, and meet tolerably good players and soccer geniuses. Above all, you’ll meet the football fans, not as thugs, just as men, and will be acquainted with their adventures and their toilsome pursuit of Happiness.

Happy readings!

Witnesses

The exile, he who voluntarily or under duress leaves his homeland, is one of the protagonists of our time, especially if by “home” we mean the world of belonging in the broadest sense: culture, ideas and morals. He is a creature of transformation, one who is different from what he might have been if he had not had the experience of departure.

Therefore, the migrant is perhaps one of the central defining figures of the XXI century. Millions of men and women live through this ordeal that is, in addition to the distress of emigrating to a country other than their own, an inevitably violent moment of change in themselves. An emigrant suffers a multiple upheaval: he loses his place of origin and of belonging, enters another language, and is surrounded by people whose social behaviour and codes differ greatly from his own. This is what makes emigrants such important figures: because roots, language and social norms are three major parts of what defines a human being. The emigrant, once he has been denied all three, must find new ways to describe himself and exist as a person.
When the unfamiliar enters the world it is not easy: not only is one’s life at risk, but there is also the risk of a total loss of the self, and people often just give up in the process.
The exile is a person who experiences the dramatic condition of absence, who is detached from his country and loses the cultural background that defines him because emigration is, at first, a violent act of deprivation, and only those who can transform themselves and re-create a place on which to rely are able to save themselves.
Repeatedly, the city is linked to the issue of immigration, because it is itself both a place of passage and a destination. It is the place where “things happen”, and may have a disquieting evocative value, because of its deep association with the sense of confusion and loss; or, conversely, it may be seen as exciting, because it becomes the real and metaphorical meeting place, where compresence gains significance and the concepts of multiplicity, coexistence of incompatible realities, and diversity of faiths and cultures are concentrated.
Cities then become the place of everything, because, like lives, they are crowded with people, facts, and things that contribute to assembling a grand mosaic. And the world city is an element of this new creation. The city becomes a meeting place and is, therefore, also the place of the emigrant who comes into contact with new realities and sees himself in relation to his new surroundings.
The human spirit is always the same but, in its migration, it assumes ever-changing forms. The new and most enigmatic product of our time is the migrant, who offers a different view of the world: that of those who start out from the experience of being uprooted, of separation and of metamorphosis.
I think the task that literature has to set itself today is to renew the language and explore the writings that express an attempt to re-claim the things and the world that also belong to “the other”; to show that morals and reality are an integral part of a culture and are variable, rather than external and absolute.

In these times, we are witnessing a modern epic; we see before us an era of tormented youth, of searching and desperation, not so much because of what those who flee are leaving behind, but because of their inevitable urge to move.
Just as the Iliad and the Odyssey were the founding myths of a culture and a civilization, and their protagonists were the champions, whether bright or obscure, of that battle, so will our era be remembered as the one of great migrations. What is yet to be written is the story of the birth of a new civilization, the definition of a new literature and perhaps a new literary canon.
We can only bear witness and fight on the front of what we believe to be our war, and only choose what to be among human beings. We will not stop anyone; it is impossible. Time and history do not stop.
One day, we will be the ones remembered by others.

 

Translation by Anna Anzani (edited by Roma O’Flaherty)

Death to War

Surfing the Web, it is not unusual to find reactionary posts urging the return of compulsory military service. They are usually reinforced by “sagacious” statements such as: “I want it back, it would do a lot of people good”, “True, for women too”, “It teaches you to obey… and to be humble”, “Respect, good manners, rules”, “There’s no more respect…, a lack of good manners… and rules are considered crazy, just look around you…” (I report these comments in the very form in which they were written). 

When you express an opinion on a subject, you should start with your own experience, if you have any. And then possibly extend your line of thought to what you have learned. In this case I have no qualms about starting with what I experienced personally, and I can say that no other year of my life was such a waste as the one I gave over to my compulsory military service.
Joining the Army doesn’t teach you to be humble. You just learn to be humiliated.
You obey, yes, like a slave on a chain does: that is, unwillingly. And you have to obey any squirt whose rank is higher than yours (that is, everybody). You have to submit to the “elders”, those who started their military service before you and who, for this reason alone, feel entitled to bully and even assault you if you don’t do their bidding; they who are, in theory, your peers (in Italy this practice is referred to as “nonnismo”). Perhaps this is what some conformists regard as “respect”, “good manners” and “rules”: the abuse of the weakest by the strongest.
Can we really respect those who don’t respect us at all?
Hierarchy is not good manners: it is tyranny. I would wish nobody’s child to be taught this kind of good manners. That doesn’t mean that I am a supporter of permissiveness. It means that inside the barracks I met only the worst specimens of mankind. I had already been taught obedience by my own parents, thank you very much. I didn’t need to be oppressed by those idiots in uniform, with no other right than that of coercion.
If parents have abdicated responsibility for educating their children, the Army will never be able to succeed where they have failed. Neither will the Education System, as too many parents seem to expect, although schools do have a key role in this matter. It is not the children who fail; it is those who have raised them.
Respect, humility, good manners, and the rules of civil society are values you can learn only from your family, not from institutions, which are too often examples of the exact opposite. If your children grow up flawed it’s often because of the wrong example they received from you. And then parents expect to have from their children the very things that they were unable to teach them, or even to do themselves.  
To those who talk about compulsory military service without having experienced it, I recommend the film “Soldati – 365 all’alba” (“Soldiers – 365 days to dawn”) by Marco Risi, which gives a rather faithful account of what the Italian compulsory military service used to be.

This year we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War and, in our country, of Liberation. We, the people from Inkroci, would like that dark historical period to be remembered: that’s why over the course of the year we will be dedicating plenty of space to it, hoping  that another war like the one which ravaged Europe will never ever return, and that the propensity for militarism be dismissed. Forever.

 

Translation by Michele Curatolo (supervised by Roma O’Flaherty)

Editorial

Dear Readers,
Here is our first issue of the New Year: we hope the year will be prosperous for you all and for the magazine.
2015 sees an anniversary of worldwide importance: it is seventy years since the end of World War II and, for Italy, it is the seventieth anniversary of liberation from the fascist regime. Inkroci is going to recall and celebrate these occasions with specific articles in its upcoming publications, as it did during 2014 for the centenary of the Great War.
But in this Editorial we would like to mention the most important events of the year just ended and to thank those who have followed, supported, and appreciated us, and those who have contributed with passion and skill to our magazine.
Inkroci’s first public event, documented in a fine video by Enola Brain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCwKb0RwnzI, was followed during the year by other initiatives, thereby expanding our network of contacts.
In March, in collaboration with the cultural association Don Chisciotte and the publisher abrigliasciolta, at the Council Hall of Roncadelle (Bs), Inkroci organized a meeting with Robert Viscusi, author of the poem of change Ellis Island and the transposer Sandro Sardella.
Through Magnolia Italia, our cultural and social association, (http://www.magnoliaitalia.com/arte_cultura/), Inkroci became a member of the Casa delle Associazioni e del Volontariato (Centre of Associations and Volunteering) of the City of Milan, in Via Marsala: this will be a valuable resource for creating opportunities for cultural interaction, collaboration and practice.
Inkroci also became a member of the Milan City Council Forum della Città Mondo (World City Forum), through which we participated in Bookcity Milano as part of the Scritti dalla Città Mondo (Writings from the World City). November 14th 2014 saw World Crossinks – Inkroci col mondo, in the prestigious venue of the Palazzina Liberty in Milan: a reflection on the figure of the migrant, the traveller of the soul; passages were read that express an “attempt to regain possession of things, of a language, of a reality which belong to ‘the other’, proving that morality and existence as experiences are internal to a culture and variable, rather than external and absolute”(Anna Ettore). Our thanks to the reader Camilla Zurru and maestro Claudio Ballabio who accompanied her on guitar.
Claudio also performed at the party organized by Inkroci on December 5th in collaboration with ARCI Caffè Letterario Primo Piano in Brescia, where artworks by Fausto Capitanio, Sam Franza and Pierfrancesco Sarzi Braga were on display. There, along with Giacomo Campiglio (electric guitar) and Carmelo Buccafusca (piano), he accompanied readings by Luca Bassi Andreasi, Manuela Mantoan, Stefania Mariotto and Biagio Vinella. The writers Silvia Accorrà and Giuseppe Ciarallo were among the many people who attended the evening which, once again, allowed us to experience how the interaction between words, images and music can create moments of great intensity and beauty. Videos of these and other events will soon be available on the Inkroci youtube channel  https://www.youtube.com/user/InkrociMagazine, where we have already posted some videos presenting the magazine.
Last but not least, we are very honoured to mention that, since issue 7, Inkroci has been collaborating with the Irish Writers’ Centre of Dublin, UNESCO City of Literature in 2010, which has enabled us to improve the quality and scope of our project. In fact, the IWC supervises a column dedicated exclusively to Irish Literature, entitled Words from Ireland. To celebrate this collaboration and to thank the IWC and its director Valerie Bistany for her support and friendship, we have decided to devote this issue entirely to Irish literature. We would also like to thank Martin Doyle for giving us permission to publish his interview with Lia Mills, which appeared in the Irish Times, as well as Lia Mills herself, Niamh MacAlister and William Wall, whose pieces have allowed us to create this issue.
In conclusion, we would like to take this opportunity to remind our readers that Inkroci is an independent magazine, based on the voluntary activity of the members of its editorial staff and its collaborators. We would therefore invite our readers to help Inkroci’s continued existence by reading and clicking us, as well as by making a donation, however large or small, on which we depend to cover the costs of managing the site and publishing the magazine.
Thank you for following us. Happy 2015 and happy reading.

Speed, despair, consumption and epistolary novels

Dearest readers,
Suddenly, it’s as if I had woken up from a dream. It’s as if I had been reborn again to this world after a long stay in the past. I have come to this conclusion only in the last few days. At last my mind, once locked in the ivory tower of literature, has come to its senses. My common sense, once corrupted by paper books, has regained its balance. Now that I own a smartphone, a tablet computer, and that I read e-books, I can clearly see after such a long time. I can actually see as if it was the first time.
I can see speed. The world is spinning round and round in my smartphone, and everything that hopelessly lives between heaven and earth is consumed in just a millisecond. All happens instantly in my smartphone. Inextricably entangled, I can see speed, despair, and consumption.
I’m not concerned with the Two Chief World Systems. I will not tell you, dearest readers, that I don’t like what I see. I only can give you a single, small example of how speed, despair, and consumption influenced the general ban on one of the literary genres I love the most. I will actually try to defend and to point out the qualities of that genre despite knowing that the big e-book tide will flood it in a few years.
Dearest readers, I am surprised that most of the people with whom I talk about books (therefore some of you, I guess) consider the epistolary genre quite inaccessible. Still, masterpieces like Clarissa, Dangerous Liaisons, The Sorrows of Young Werther, The Last Letters of Jacopo Ortis, Frankenstein, and Dracula were written in epistolary form. And if these books seem too remote from you, please note that Guido Piovene’s Confession of a Novice, Natalia Ginzburg’s Dear Michael, David Grossman’s Be my Knife appeared in the 20th century. These all are epistolary novels, like Federico Roncoroni’s Un giorno, altrove (One Day, in Another Place), published in 2013, where the paper letter exchange is substituted by an e-mail correspondence.
Anyway, are epistolary novels really to be rejected? As much as I force myself to do so, I hardly can understand the reasons of such definitive verdict.
Do you perhaps get bored when you read a sequence of letters without a single description or a dialogue in them? Are you hungry for actions and not for reflections? For high speed and not for pauses of meditation? However, actions and reflections alternate in Dracula and in Dangerous Liaisons.
Do you perhaps feel like voyeurs, obliged to follow events told almost exclusively in the first person? Do you think that the psychological study belonging naturally to letters is no more up-to-date? Or that it cannot take you anywhere? I guess this depends on when those books were written, when the accurate analysis of the characters was far more important than it is today. The psychological study can be very interesting, though.
Is perhaps the verbosity of letters that annoys you? Today it’s well known that every communication longer than five lines (hence also this editorial) is classified as ponderous, dusty, unreadable. A well-written letter, even if long, can actually be engaging and piercing like a short scene.
Do epistolary novels perhaps appear like a completely outdated genre to you? This is probably the right answer. However, to say that epistolary novels are unreadable because they contain letters is just like to say that black and white films are unwatchable because they have no colours.
Before dismissing epistolary novels, I do hope that you can approach them – the best of them – with no prejudice at all and that when reading them, you may forget despair, speed, and consumption only for just a while.
In the Celluloid Words section of this Inkroci issue you will find a review of the epistolary novel Dangerous Liaisons, followed by a short commentary on the films taken from the story narrated in the book.

Happy readings.

Over to the word

Men create oppositions, which are not; and put them into new terms, so fixed, as whereas the meaning ought to govern the term, the term in effect governeth the meaning.

(Francis Bacon, Essays, chap. III)

 

The manipulation of language to the needs and use of power, is part of human nature since humans exist. As far back as the Bible, God is associated with the Verbum, that is, with the word: The Word was God, designated as wisdom in the Holy Scriptures and then defined by Latin grammarians as that which denotes action in all its occurrences. Moreover, it is interesting to highlight how etymologically we can find traces of this term in oriental languages (Old Persian and Avestan) with the additional meaning of to teach, to announce.
The corruption of language as a danger to individual conscience, and even more so to common conscience, is therefore not a problem just of our time, but it belongs to the very existence of society. Not surprisingly, in recent times (and, especially in contemporary times more than any other), Nazi Germany organized one of the largest Bücherverbrennungen1 in the Opernplatz of Berlin: it was May 10th 1933. And that was not, and is not , the only example of biblioclasm.
What is disconcerting, however, is today’s absence of discussion in the classrooms of life, the absence of intellectuals who do their job; the absence or the shortage of an organized counterculture that displays its indignation and, above all, alerts us to the dangers of an impoverishment of language: a new system of slavery of men in a society subjected to the dictatorship of a neoliberal culture, hidden behind the illusory banner of democracy as a bulwark of freedom.
We are totally free to obtain all the information that we want, to access, to buy and to consume all  knowledge, to believe ourselves experts and updated know-it-alls thanks to a five-line post on a social network. Five, because the sixth line would be too much of an in-depth analysis and incompatible with the speed and flexibility of the skills required by the market.
In the digital age we can cross all boundaries. And be found at every turn, so that  power – just in case we have to work hard to obtain information to show us new paths – might rescue us, in bit time, and let us choose – freely, of course – if we should return to the fold of media distraction or be shredded by the scissors of censorship, in whatever form we prefer.  And this is simply what happens:  by annihilating the word, consciousness is annihilated.
Paradoxically, the counterculture that fought power, that travelled from village to village on stencilled papers, was able to create awareness, to create revolution, to win social battles. The network of censorship is now so dense and technologically advanced (progress was not born to benefit  man, at least not primarily) that society vegetates into a permanent state of hallucination, wandering through the illusory vision of being free and master of its conscious and knowledgeable being.  Orwell predicted what we are now experiencing, because Orwell simply did his job:  he gave the word its meaning.
Some say that our digital age is coining new terms, new forms of communication which narrate reality, adhering to it and recognizing it also in its linguistic evolution. A new writing for new writers, of the now, who are able to talk about their time using its language.  And should we define as conservative those who are horrified in the face of the use of “ke”2, in the face of the disappearance of subjunctives, in the face of the improper use of “rather than”; in the face of a poorer and poorer vocabulary, under the always less rarefied threat of a linguistic and human involution that is losing the sense of the word as the creator of wisdom and consciousness, the word that announces and teaches.
A writer is not the preserver of the word.  A writer, as such, recognizes its power, its vitality, its dynamism and its possibility for continuous change. The word is itself part of the future because it contemplates it: it holds within it the memory of history, the structure of the present and, thanks to the union of these, it holds within it the possibility of becoming something else, of attempting to relate beyond the present whilst relating the present. The word itself teaches us this in those books which we consider modern and which we can all identify as examples of literature without being able to say exactly what literature is.
A writer, as such, does not confuse current time with the use of the language imposed on it, but instead bows to the language, pays homage to it, respects it, honours it, and proposes it to the reader with honesty and meaning.
The few authors who manage to do this not only fascinate us, but leave behind a pearl for us to cultivate.  They bring us life.

 

1 book burning

2 [instead of che, “that”; translator’s note]

 

Translation by Irene Lami (supervised by Ester Tossi)

The contradiction

Today, you are nobody unless you appear on TV. This assumption is indeed a concept that can be applied to writers and artists, even if at first glance it seems to refer just to showgirls, Big Brother’s housemates and tv presenter Maria De Filippi’s pseudo-friends. It is not the television itself, but rather the showcase that it represents, the public approval that it seems to give.

Writers are interviewed, cuddled, pampered or ignored, despised, excluded, too many of them are by now the product of the last thirty years’ only belief: success no matter what. They long to rely precisely upon the medium that supports the most extreme and systematic destruction of language. They are ready to lose themselves to gain appearance, turning themselves into caricatures, characters at the audience’s mercy as the enemies fed to the lions in the ancient arenas.
In this way they become voluntary slaves of a means of communications that in the very moment in which it mythicizes them, debunks them, it also forces them to a degrading mediation with the dominant thing (‘res’). They are forced to come to terms with the propaganda of official positive values, with a communicative vehicle in which communication itself is the eternal absent as it can only offer models that excludes those who do not adhere to them. This is a compromise which forces the writer to an adjustment to the viewer’s expected needs; moreover, these needs are fictitiously created by the medium itself, in a commercial logic in which supply determines demand, and not the opposite. This is a compromise in which the writer fully gives himself to the consent of mass media, which are reactionary and anti-cultural by their very nature.
The ultimate need of the television medium is to make us forget that the person on the screen is an author of books, to turn them into a character, pleasant or unpleasant depending on one’s requirements: TV therefore to suppresses the writers’ nature in order to make them fit for the stage.
As far as they are concerned,  authors turn out to be mostly ridiculous and unsuitable to the medium; or rather haughty, so aloof to be almost unseemly; at worst, they are pleased to be on television and finally subdued to the show business. They are anyway deprived of their role as writers: they become actors instead of communicating with readers through their work, they become comedians who aim at communicating their self-representation to viewers, similarly to telesales auctioneers who give up their dignity and their role in order to gain a larger number of customers. While drifting away from their nature, they integrate perfectly in the neo-capitalist system, subduing their art and their intellect to a visual culture dominated by a downward adjustment, to meet an audience of disoriented viewers of which they become part. However, you will not find a trace of their own disorientation in their works, because now they have reached the certainty that the book is just merchandise, a product to sell to an audiece of non-readers. Renouncing forever to their originality, to the possible distinctiveness of their voice, to their individuality. Giving up, that is, to be a writer.

 

Translation by Irene Lami (supervised by Sabrina Macchi)

A special issue

In the belief that our identity is open and intercultural, and in considering culture to be communication and mutual exchange between different artistic forms, visions and genres, Inkroci, after one year of life, is honoured and pleased to dedicate this special issue to welcoming the authors from the Irish Writers’ Centre.

Our love for Ireland and Irish literature won’t surprise our readers, who certainly remember the publication, in previous issues of our magazine, of an interview with Catherine Dunne by Michele Curatolo, a short story by Seumas O’Kelly, the reviews of his short story collection Waysiders, translated by Anna Anzani and of two novels by Liam O’Flaherty, The Black Soul and The Informer.
Coincidentally, our first contact with IWC neatly dates back to 2010, the year when Dublin was designated a UNESCO City of Literature in recognition of its high cultural profile and international standing as a city of literary excellence. The occasion was Catherine Dunne’s presentation of her novel Missing Julia. In 2011, once again at the invitation of our friend Federica Sgaggio, we had the opportunity of taking part in the first phase of the Italo-Irish Literature Exchange, set up as a collaboration between Catherine and Federica, and currently administered by the Irish Writers’ Centre and its Italian counterpart, ònoma.
Four years ago, Inkroci was just an idea or, rather, a dream. Our stay in Dublin, and the sympathetic and kind enthusiasm we received at the IWC, contributed to making us believe that the dream could come true. Now Inkroci is a small but brilliant reality, as since March 2013 we have published a total of six online issues of our bilingual magazine. Thanks to the IWC, we now have an invaluable opportunity to enhance the quality of our project.
To mark the start of our collaboration with the IWC, in Inkroci 7 we are publishing short stories and poems by seven Irish authors who have been designated by the IWC to participate in the forthcoming IILE 2014, taking place next June in Italy (https://www.facebook.com/events/664898216915532/). The history and context of the IILE and this year’s authors are introduced by the Director of the Irish Writers’ Centre, Valerie Bistany, who has close connections with Italy and has very kindly supported our partnership. From the next issue on, IWC will supervise a new column fully dedicated to Irish Literature. It’s title will be Words from Ireland. Besides, we plan to devote a special issue to Words from Ireland in the coming year.
In order for our readers to properly enjoy the Irish contributions, the Italian sections of the magazine have been reduced in this issue. Nevertheless, having recently celebrated April 25th and May Day, we have decided to release the first part of a long interview with the Italian actor and playwright Moni Ovadia who, among other themes, deals with the significance of these two events. In spite of the lack of social and political engagement that our country has been experiencing in recent years, we still consider them essential for our idea of freedom and our vision of life.
In the present issue we also inaugurate one more new column dedicated to classic literature. On this particular occasion, we propose another short story by Seumas O’Kelly.
Thank you for following us. Happy reading.

 

Anna Anzani
Michele Curatolo

 

Translation by Anna Anzani (supervised by Roma O’Flaherty)

 

The Great War One Hundred Years Later

Picture by Luigi Pennino

In 2014 we celebrate the centenary of the First World War. It was the war of the trenches and machine guns, the war that was commonly called “The Great War”.

We believe that, if this war can really still be called great, it is because of the enormity of the horror and the carnage it produced. Nevertheless, the fact remains that it should be also remembered as one of the major initiatory events of the modern era. The Great War stands as a huge point of no return, as one of the facts after which nothing is as it was before. This is true from the historical perspective as well as from the scientific and the cultural ones.
A few examples and a few quotations can clarify this assumption: it was after the Great War – such an unimaginable occurrence only some years before – that four once super-powerful empires (Austria-Hungary, Germany, Ottoman Turkey, and Russia) suddenly dissolved, self-disintegrating into a number of small countries, and giving rise to a series of socio-political tensions that, even if on a smaller scale, are still present in the world of today.
In those years the advances in technology were awesome, particularly with regard to military applications. It can be said that the Great War was the first completely mechanized conflict ever, in which technology began to turn men into machines, or into pieces of machinery. In any case, when the soldiers realized the incredible power of destructions of the new weapons, the pacifist conscience, which is today one of the best features of our society, was born and spread by the most sensitive amongst them. Writer Ernest Hemingway, an ambulance driver on the Italian front, reflected on these issues and, combining horrors with sad amazement, portrayed Catherine Barkley, the nurse protagonist of A Farewell To Arms, remembering an English friend fallen in the battle of the Somme: «I remember having a silly idea he might come to the hospital where I was. With a sabre cut, I suppose, and a bandage around his head… Something picturesque… He didn’t have a sabre cut. They blew him all to bits».
As to the influence of the Great War on culture, the significant sentence by Fernand Legér, an eminent French painter who served in the Argonne front, best embodies the whole issue: «I was stunned by the sight of the breech of a 75 millimetre in the sunlight. It was the magic of light on the white metal… For my artistic evolution, this event taught me more than all the museums in the world». Perhaps a bit overenthusiastic for today’s world, these words clearly express the impact of the conflict – with its load of violently mechanical and coldly energetic experiences – on the most receptive artists, to whom it revealed a new approach to reality. It is not necessary to mention, after Léger’s words, the large amount of writers, poets, painters, photographs, and film-makers – more evidence of the modernity of the Great War lies in the fact that it was one of the first filmed events in history – who used, and keep on using, that conflict as the subject of their works.
During the last one hundred years, the public memory of the Great War particularly in Italy, has always been alive but, shall we say, somewhat unbalanced. Even though it celebrated the places and the people connected to the war events – we have tangible proof in the very names of places in our cities -, it did not often pay proper attention to the cultural heritage we received from the conflict. According to the commitments of Inkroci, we felt that our contribution to the celebration of the centenary should go far beyond the military facts, and rather emphasize the artists’ voices – sometimes critical, sometimes thoughtful and even speechless – which were inspired by these facts. So we will able to meditate, together with our readers, on the sense of the Great War and, above all, on the influence it still casts on our present.
In Inkroci 6 you will find four articles on the Great War: the film reviews on Mario Monicelli’s La grande Guerra (The Great War) and on Francesco Rosi’s Uomini contro (Many Wars Ago), the review on Nathalie Bauer’s novel Ragazzi di belle speranze, and an interview with the author.

Happy reading,
Michele Curatolo

 Translation by Michele Curatolo (edited by Ester Tossi)

Editorial – Bilingual Magazine

Dear Readers,

In welcoming you to issue no. 5 of our magazine, I will try and illustrate the reasons that led to Inkroci being a bilingual magazine, and will take the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of what we do. Like all matters of a certain interest, this complex theme can probably be most usefully dealt with from different perspectives and insights.
One consideration that immediately comes to mind concerns the close link that exists between language and culture. According to a definition given by UNESCO (1970), culture is a process of communication between men. Being human is to exist in relation to others. Since English has become an international language, we believe that using it may give us the chance to reach a larger number of readers, and so contribute to greater cultural intensity and completeness.
Aiming at this goal, shouldn’t we then publish our magazine only in English?
We can answer in the words of Nelson Mandela: «If you speak a language a person can understand, that goes to his head, but if you speak his mother tongue, that goes to his heart». Inkroci operates in the field of literature, and it is its ambition to build dialogue, to share the representation of experiences, to expand intersubjectivity and to experiment with words. Given the bidirectional relationship between thought and language, we are convinced that the promotion of writing in the language of our own thoughts and emotions sustains the quality and meaningfulness of our texts.
Inkroci is not insensitive to the challenges of internationalization, which is encouraged in many areas of education and research, but we prefer to interpret this concept as multilingualism and cultural diversity, and we focus on it in the space in Inkroci entitled Literatures from the world, where pieces in other languages can also be found.
As a consequence, this choice implies that we commit ourselves to translating our texts from English or into English. In my opinion, quality writing is synonymous with synthesis and conciseness; therefore I personally find great satisfaction when I approach the English language. To translate literature, you must be passionate about it; the word passion comes from the Latin patire and conveys the idea of suffering. I remember that I found studying English at elementary school extremely demanding. Perhaps my difficulty in understanding has since turned into its opposite: the desire to clarify and make it accessible, first and foremost to myself and then to others. This then turned into the love for translation, which is basically a love for words, that I share with the whole group at Inkroci.
Translation is a form of knowledge, a communicative act and the place of a meeting where the distances in space and time dissolve, where we discover other people and our own self-consciousness, tracing the threads of our identity. According to Italo Calvino, «translating a book is the best way to read it».
Of course, a language is not made just of words alone; and the act of translating, as Umberto Eco argues, is not only the transposition from one culture to another, but is also the adaptation of existing contents to contexts which have changed or which never existed. This is a space of challenge, beauty and freedom, and a necessarily imperfect act (http://cartaecalamaio.com/2012/07/09/lannosa-questione-del-tradurre-e-tradire/). In this space, there is gratification in the chisel work, the attention to detail, to commas and nuances, in the knowledge that form and substance are two poles which need to be kept in perfect balance.
Milan Kundera, who always obsessively revised and corrected the translations of his books, once wrote: «People say that a translation is like a woman: she is either faithful or beautiful. It is the most stupid adage I know. In fact, a translation is beautiful if it is faithful».
In conclusion, I would like to quote from an interview (in our no. 2 issue) where Erri De Luca describes how the exercise of precision, inspired by a sense of admiration for the other language, allows you to root yourself in the vocabulary of your own language: «When somebody asks me how to become a writer, I simply answer: first become a translator».

Translation supervised by Roma O’Flaherty