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 edited by Roma O’Flaherty


Photo by Marisa Sias

Culture without Context

When consulting the catalogues of most Italian publishers, you realize that local writers are in a minority.

It is true that Italy, being a small country, is also part of a geographical minority but, all the same, in every country in the world, the tendency is to give ample space to home-grown authors: in this sense, Italy is going against the current trend.

Are these publishing choices imposed from the top? Not only. In my opinion, this is about the peculiar structure of Italian culture: a culture that has long suffered from xenophilia or a love of all things foreign; or, worse, that has suffered from a (historical) dependence on North American culture.

In the past twenty years, especially, Italy has suffered from the consequences of free trade policies that originated in the eighties and in the culture generated in those years. Therefore, I would like to dwell on the idea of “culture”.

The Nicola Zanichelli Italian dictionary gives us as the first definition of culture: “Combination of knowledge, traditions, technical procedures, behavior and similar, handed down and used systematically, typical of a certain social class, of a people, of a group of peoples or of the whole of humankind”. Therefore, literature does not spring from itself, but is a child of the cultural humus in which the writer, too (who is first of all a reader, a beneficiary), grows and develops his own way of thinking.

Dictionaries themselves change definitions linked to headwords according to the historical and cultural moment in which they are compiled, thus adapting to the prevailing customs.

And under “literature” we now find the following definition: “Activity directed towards systematic production of written texts, whose purpose is mainly to produce an aesthetic result and in which invention often prevails over the description of reality” (ibid.).

We immediately realize that this formula is perfectly suited to modern Italian literature. It is like reading a brief but precise description of most of the novels produced by most popular Italian authors. These authors aim only for an aesthetic effect and their work is pure invention. It is lacking in content, in an individual theme and in description of the vivid reality in which the author should be immersed (the fact that quite a considerable part of production is devoted to pseudo-historical series is not at all casual). They are authors who do not tell us anything about the times in which they are living, nor about our history, but are concerned only with “the aesthetics of empty words” (L. Gregori).

Since our field of investigation is the literature of the years in which we are living, I would like to deal precisely with this point. However, when looking for the definitions I need, I find that they extend the scope of the field under investigation, rather than reduce it. As a matter of fact, the Zingarelli dictionary, as well as giving definitions of “novel” in the classical and medieval interpretations of the word, also defines it in the modern sense: “a broad narrative prose based on fantastic or adventurous elements, on great social or ideological themes, on the study of traditions, of character or feelings”.

It is immediately evident that the description of the “novel” is widely antithetical to the one of “literature”. Social and ideological themes suddenly appear, as well as traditions, character and feelings (therefore reality), topics that were not even mentioned in the definition of “literature”; “culture” too, in a narrower sense, is mentioned.

At this point, a doubt arises spontaneously: so the novel is not therefore to be considered literature when it deals with the above mentioned themes? Or is it simply that the dictionary, by recording the changes of a certain era, updates its definition of literature, while being obliged to maintain the historical definition of the novel, regardless of its application to present-day production?

Another question we have to ask to ourselves is: who writes literature?

Leaving out the most obvious answer – writers – it might be natural to say: members of the intelligentsia. So let us check the definition of “intellectual”: “He who devotes himself mainly to activities connected with knowledge and thinking, who has diverse cultural interests, who produces literary, artistic, scientific and similar works” (ibid.). And among the definitions of “culture” we find, as a second definition, the following: “Heritage of knowledge of learned people” (ibid).

So the figure of a member of the intelligentsia is connected with culture, and the intellectual, thanks to his own culture (knowledge, thinking) can produce literary narrative works. But if “the aim of culture is to arouse new ideas and reduce material needs, to form a class of citizens who are more cultivated and civilized” (De Sanctis), what are we up against when we consider those exponents of literature who produce only pieces of nonsense, even though they pose as members of the intelligentsia and may even be highly educated?

I will confine myself to underlining how the works of writers of our times, being children of the culture that has enslaved us over the past twenty years, do not arouse new ideas nor immaterial needs, do not help to form more civilized citizens, do not give voice to thoughts and knowledge, do not stimulate cultural interest. Therefore what is the reason for such success? And can this kind of writer correctly declare himself to be a member of intelligentsia? Does he really produce literature?

If so, why then are so few Italian writers published? In order to try to answer this and other related questions I believe we have to consider the civilization in which the writer was born, in which he grew up and communicates, since the writer, just like anybody else, is a product of society. It would therefore be necessary to examine the problem from different points of view: sociological, psychological, anthropological and, above all, political and economic. But this, to be honest, is beyond my possibilities.

I think a partial answer can be found, in nuce, in a sentence written by Claudio Magris: “Real literature does not flatter the reader, thus reinforcing his prejudices and his insecurities, but provokes him and disconcerts him, and compels him to reckon with his own world and with his certainties”.

However, the above sentence opens the door to further reflection on the society we are living in, and especially Italian society: one that tries, in every possible way, to prevent its members from reckoning with their own world and with their mistaken certainties.

(Translation by Paola Roveda)

Editorial – Inkroci n. 3


Dear readers,

Welcome to our third issue. We are pleased to see that the list of people we publicly acknowledged in our second editorial has prolonged, thanks to the contribution of enthusiastic and competent professionals who are collaborating in issuing this magazine. We are unable to mention each and every one of them but express our extreme gratitude to all those who are supporting us, allowing us to grow and to enrich our magazine with new contents.
Inkroci was born as a result of the meeting of people who share a passion for reading, a desire to tell stories, a wish to make culture, that is to say to create possibilities for encounters with the social community and to seek interactions between different forms, visions and artistic genres. This is also the narrative project which determines how our sections are structured.
Writing is primarily developed through the section “Short stories”, the essential core of our magazine. We believe that it is worth rediscovering this literary form, which is less popular in Italy than abroad. In every issue we publish four very short stories and one short story, paying special attention to outstanding beginners and to stories by those overseas authors who are not well known in Italy. We have no genre limitations, but only quality restrictions.
The section “Interviews” is a space where you can get to know those authors who have made literature the core of both their life and their work, whatever art form they have chosen. In a live meeting with the authors or their works (like in the “Impossible interviews” inaugurated in the current issue) we give substance to the enjoyment of knowledge and of exchange and to the curiosity and discovery of close or distant thoughts.
Writing continues its journey. In “Literatures” it becomes analysis, reflection, confrontation and hope.

“Literatures from the world”, a section edited by Anna Ettore, offers the results of a research aimed at exploring little known or forgotten narratives, giving space and proposing an approach to works and authors that we often undeservedly consider last.
With “Celluloid words” we have chosen to approach the successful artistic combination between a literary work and the film derived from it: a story generating another story, a form assuming another form.

“Paper dreams”, a space edited by Heiko H. Caimi, deals with the intimate experience of encounters with reading or writing, through the subjective vision of single authors: the inner world of feelings, questions and desires surrounding the meaning of a passion.

“Vertical thinking”, a new column edited by Sara Di Girolamo, presents relevant esoteric books and videos or, in a broader sense, texts for the mind, the body and the spirit.

The “Reviews” are a classic element of all cultural magazines and, of course, we did not want to leave them out. In the spirit of our magazine, we have chosen to introduce a survey which includes most of the narrative art forms, i.e. books, cinema and music.
In the section “Beware of the Book!”, four different books that we consider remarkable are analysed every time. These are our “to purchase or not to purchase tips”.

We then continue with “Making movies”, a space dedicated to famous and not so famous films that we believe are worth reconsidering and (re)viewing. In “Movieblender”, a column edited by Gino Udina, we analyze two films recently released (or coming soon) on DVD.

“Those amazing records!” is dedicated to music and looking for those fundamental and historic records that even now still provide us with a great listening experience.
Finally, the ten “Pocket reviews” briefly comment on old and new books. We consider that talking about books is never enough and, among the vast collection of publications available on the market, we would like to offer our readers, and firstly to ourselves, an opportunity to reflect on as broad an overview as possible.
Since narration also takes a non-written form, Inkroci expresses it also through images. The illustrations of Samantha Franza and other authors, together with our photographers’ pictures in the section “Photograph-art”, offer different perspectives to view the world and worlds through the voices of art, so that we can live, see and feel culture with the most open and dialoguing vision possible.
Dulcis in fundo, to cross borders our magazine comes out also in English. But that’s a story for another day.

Enjoy your reading,
the Editorial Staff

Translation by Anna Anzani (edited by Ester Tossi)


Which brings us to the second issue. A decisive issue, because when you give birth to the number one of a literary magazine you would like to share it with the greatest number of people. You wish, in short, that the first issue never disappeared, logically replaced by the following ones. We have had many readers, more than expected, but we would like them to increase exponentially in number by word of mouth before feeding the public with the new creature. At the same time, however, the new release is a sign of good health, a project that goes ahead and wants to grow, not expecting to be remembered only for the way it introduced itself for the first time. A project that tries to affirm its own character and the individual personalities that compose it for the longest time possible.

This is the reason why we will continue to give space to both well-known names (in this issue Giuseppe Ciarallo, Catherine Dunne, and Jack London) and newcomers, without forgetting the fundamental contributions of the editorial staff and translators, who are Inkroci’s backbone.

I would therefore like to take this second opportunity to thank publicly all the people who have collaborated on Inkroci, starting with Chiara Canova and Rob Mardle, who supervised all the translations and gave a generous and enthusiastic contribution; and continuing with Giovanni Poli, our webmaster, who dashed to allow us to be on-line on schedule; to get to all the members of the Reading Committee, who, taking on the patient examination of countless stories, allow us to select which ones will be published on each issue. And, last but not least, to those who have worked with “Inkroci” since its first cry, helping us to achieve our project: Gianfranco Caimi, Giuseppe Ciarallo, Ludovica Gazzé, Fausto Capitanio, Michele Larotonda, Rossella Manzo, Rita Marinelli, Sara Sagrati, David Verazzani, and Laura Zanoli.

I would also like to give a special thanks to those who lend us their works free of charge, allowing us to enrich the magazine with their signatures, and to the authors who have made themselves available for an interview.

From the next issue this space will be occupied by other subjects, but this time I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who, after the release of the first issue, wanted to send us a comment on our work. The list would be very long, so we limit our gratefulness, against our will, to a generalized thank you to the writers, the screenwriters, the insiders, friends and readers who have given testimony of their appreciation and who have encouraged us to continue our project. Thank you all.

And thanks to the many readers who have visited us. We hope they will want to stay with us for the future.

Happy reading!

                                                                                        Heiko H. Caimi

(Translation by Silvia Accorrà)