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The Novel as Investigation

The Novel as Investigation: Leonardo Sciascia, Dacia Maraini, and Antonio Tabucchi

  • Book Info
    The Novel as Investigation
    Book Description:

    Detective fiction is a universally popular genre; stories about the investigation of a crime by a detective are published all over the world and in hundreds of languages. Detective fiction provides more than entertainment, however; it often has a great deal to say about crime and punishment, justice and injustice, testimony and judgment.The Novel as Investigationexamines a group of detective novels by three important Italian writers - Leonardo Sciascia, Dacia Maraini, and Antonio Tabucchi - whose conviction about the ethical responsibility of the writer manifests itself in their investigative fiction.

    Jo-Ann Cannon explores each writer's denunciation of societal ills in two complementary texts. These investigative novels shed light on pressing social ills, which are not particular to Italian society of the late twentieth century but are universal in scope: Sciascia focuses on abuses of power and the death penalty, Maraini on violence against women, Tabucchi on torture and police brutality. In addition, each of these texts self-reflexively explore the role of writing in society. Sciascia, Maraini, and Tabucchi all use their fiction to defend the power of the pen to address "il male del mondo."

    The Novel as Investigationwill be of interest to a broad audience of readers, including those interested in Italian and comparative literature, Italian social history, and cultural studies.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8191-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)

    Leonardo Sciascia, Dacia Maraini, Antonio Tabucchi. Key works of these three Italian novelists, from the mid-1980s to the end of the century, intersect in striking and significant ways, arriving at a similar juncture at approximately the same point in time. This book will examine a series of these works that focus on crime and punishment, justice and injustice, testimony and judgment:Porte aperte(1985) andII cavaliere e la morte(1989) by Sciascia,Isolina(1985) andVoci(1994) by Maraini, andSostiene Pereira(1994) andLa testa perduta di Damascene Monteiro(1997) by Tabucchi. Each of these texts, whether a...

  5. 1 The Power of the Pen in Leonardo Sciascia’s Porte Aperte
    (pp. 17-30)

    Leonardo Sciascia’s credentials as a historian have been evident throughout his literary career. In such works asMorte dell’lnquisitore, La strega e il capitano,andLa scomparsa di Majomna,Sciascia delves into unexplored chapters of Italian history.Morte dell’Inquisitore,a text inspired by Manzoni’sStoria della colonna infame, reconstructs the story of the Augustinian monk who, persecuted by the Inquisition for political and not religious ‘heresies,’ retaliated by assassinating his inquisitor.¹ The book is a historical detective novel in which the author searches for every available scrap of evidence in order to reconstruct the historical record as accurately as possible....

  6. 2 The Death of the Detective in II Cavaliere e la morte
    (pp. 31-44)

    Like the novels of the sixties and early seventies that established Leonardo Sciascia’s literary reputation -II giorno della civetta, A ciascuno il suo, II contesto,andTodo modo- his penultimate novel,II cavaliere la morte(1988), takes the familiar form of thegiallo.The detective genre is a mode of discourse grounded in an implicit faith in the power of reason. The affront to reason is the point of departure of the conventional detective novel, and the satisfaction of reason is its conclusion.¹ It has been suggested that the detective story as aforma mentisbelongs the Enlightenment,...

  7. 3 In Search of Isolina
    (pp. 45-58)

    Dacia Maraini’s 1985Isolina: La donna tagliata a pezziis the story of an unsolved murder in turn-of-the-century Verona. Not a historical novel¹ but a meticulously researched inquiry into the miscarriage of justice in the case of the murder of a young woman,Isolinafalls into the category theracconto inchiesta.²Theinchiesta,from Manzoni’sStoria della colonna infameto Sciascia’sMorte dell’Inquisitoreto Maraini’sIsolina,bears a great deal in common with the detective genre.³ The process of ‘ratiocination' through which the detective assembles the pieces of the puzzle parallels the process whereby the historian retrospectively reconstructs a series...

  8. 4 Voci and the Conventions of the Giallo
    (pp. 59-72)

    With her acclaimed 1994 novelVoci,Dacia Maraini draws upon the most codified and conventional of genres, the detective novel, to produce an unconventional and highly original work of fiction.¹ Like the detective fiction of Leonardo Sciascia and Antonio Tabucchi, Maraini’s novel exploits the conventions of the classicalgiallowhile departing from many of those conventions in interesting and significant ways. From themodus operandiof the two detectives to the mode of narration the solution of the crime, the author plays with and upsets the norms of the typicalromanzo poliziesco.While Sciascia employed the detective genre both to...

  9. 5 Ethics and Literature in Sostiene Pereira: Una Testimonianza
    (pp. 73-86)

    Antonio Tabucchi’s 1994Sostiene Pereira: Una testimonianzais a historical novel set in 1938 Lisbon at the height of the Salazar dictatorship. Tabucchi delves into Portugal’s fascist past not only to shed light on that episode in history but also to comment on the present day. Like his 1997La testa perduta di Damascene Monteiro,the story of an episode of police brutality in contemporary Portugal,Sostiene Pereirais a cautionary tale of the need for constant vigilance in the unending struggle against oppression and abuse. Widely acclaimed upon its publication in 1994, the novel examines the gradual ‘presa di...

  10. 6 Detection, Activism, and Writing in La testa perduta di Damasceno Monteiro
    (pp. 87-100)

    Like Leonardo Sciascia and Dacia Maraini, Antonio Tabucchi exploits the detective genre for a variety of purposes. In bothNottorno Indiano(1984) andll filo dell‘orizzone(1986) he draws upon the conventions of theromanzo poliziescowhile departing from the norms of the genre in important respects.¹ The author has frequently mentioned his predilection for detective novels, whether of the popular or the literary variety.² In his 1997La testa perduta di Damascene MonteiroTabucchi draws upon the detective genre in order to expose injustice and denounce a social problem that knows no national boundaries. The novel is a cautionary...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 101-106)

    The authors analysed in the preceding chapters do not belong to a single literary school, nor have they generally been considered to be ‘kindred spirits.’ What makes the convergence, towards the end of the millennium, of key works by Sciascia, Maraini, and Tabucchi so striking is precisely the degree to which these writers and their works intersect from dramatically different directions.

    Leonardo Sciascia is of that generation of Italian writers that came of age in the immediate post-war period in which neo-realism flourished. Sciascia never adhered to the neo-realist prescription of quasi-socialist realism, and he kept his distance from the...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 107-122)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 123-130)
  14. Index
    (pp. 131-134)