Andrea Camilleri has remained at the bottom of the canyon until the end. Shortly before his disappearance, the Italian writer spoke with this newspaper of his last published book, "The hare that mocked us" (Duomo Editions), a collection of fables accompanied by a prologue by Fernando Aramburu. From Rome, the father of detective Montalbano talked about these texts, readings and his literary legacy, one of the most fascinating of Italian literature.
What is more difficult: write crime novels or fables?
It's much harder for me to write fables, especially if I do not want the obvious. And it is not a difficulty of writing as much as the complication of constructing a fabulistic plot. I am too attached to reality and, therefore, distancing myself from it is like sailing in the open sea.
In these stories you can observe his fascination with nature. What role has nature played as a literary theme and source of inspiration during his years as a writer?
In my first twenty years of life, I spent my summers in the countryside and spent the wonderful company of my maternal grandmother, Elvira, who taught me to observe nature (animals, plants and even landscapes) with an attentive look and Fascinated, where magic played a leading role. My grandmother tended to "humanize" all the animals we encountered and, therefore, was able to engage in conversation, for example, with a cricket that I watched fascinated. My grandmother talked to the cricket, gave her a name, listened to her answers and, believe me, she managed to understand it and make herself understood.
How much staff is in these fables?
All of them are personal experiences, my experiences lived in the first person with the animals of my life.
With whom do you feel more comfortable, with the adult reader of Montalbano or with the child reading these fables?
I have not written this book for children and I still think that it is not about stories for young people. I think it is completely wrong to associate the man-nature relationship only with a fabulistic context and, therefore, for young people. Animals are part of our entire existence and it is fundamental to integrate them not only in our childhood, but also in our old age.
What was it like to work with Paolo Canevari, with whom, if I am not mistaken, he maintains a close friendship relationship?
I have been one of his father's best friends. We spent long summers together in our houses in the Tuscan countryside that were very close to each other. Paolo has been the protagonist of many of these stories and, as a friend of the family, he has known almost all the animals that have been close to me. The real work of Paolo has not really been to illustrate these stories, since he had made the drawings many years before because of his own need and not motivated by my texts
Why has it taken ten years to make these fables known?
It's been a lot longer since I wrote these stories. I have never felt the need to publish them, they were a kind of written memory of my relationship with these beloved animals. The editor and, later, my meeting with Paolo, have convinced me to publish them, but, if it were for me, they could have been left in a drawer, they are memories that live in me. Obviously, I will be happy if, thanks to these stories, my readers will be able to appreciate the importance of nature in human life.
Reading your book it is impossible not to think of authors like Aesop, Lafontaine or Perrault. How have these authors influenced you?
As to all the readers of these great classics. There is no single way to explain the influence of the classics, the important texts live in us and are assimilated in very different ways. I do not have an exhaustive answer to your question.
What did you read as a child? How did you become fond of reading?
I did not read children's stories. When I was six years old I used to read serious novels, but not because I was especially nerd, but simply because they were the books I found at home. Obviously, I also loved to read magazines and youth novels when they gave them to me, but the most important source of my reading was the library of the "elders"
Why are you afraid of the idea that you may be making a machine that deciphers the thought of an animal?
I explain it in the story: because I am convinced that the animals would say terrible things to us, petty things, that we try to hide ourselves.
What should we learn from animals?
Let each one do his work. The animal, that of the anima and, us, that of the men. Certainly, with respect.
In the drawer in which these fables were kept, what else does it hide?
They were not kept as if they were a secret. They have been stories of my life, kept in a closet within everyone's reach, that I simply did not see necessary to publish. In spite of the little fame that I have come to have, I do not believe at all that all my books are masterpieces. Maybe, to be generous with myself, there are only four or five books that, throughout my career, worth writing.
(tagsToTranslate) víctor fernández