Biblioterapia: Beppe Fenoglio, “Una questione privata”.

14358828_10154437476716678_3428155504243333651_nBeppe Fenoglio, Una questione privata, Einaudi, 2014 [1986]

Indicazioni: ansie da passato irrisolto; ricerca della verità; dubbio; lotta antifascista.

Posologia: Prendersi un pomeriggio, una mattina, una sera e leggerlo tutto d’un fiato. Accompagnato da fiumi di tè bianco. Se possibile, affrontare i soliloqui a voce alta.

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A tratti, certo non sempre, ma io a questa cosa che la creatività sia legata al disordine, ai mucchi di carte e penne e tazze e filtri di tè sulla scrivania, non ci ho mai creduto molto. Negli altri tratti, invece, lo scompiglio di oggetti tra le chiazze blu del tavolo mi ha invece fatto assai comodo, ma solo perché si aveva tutto a portata di mano.

Mi capita, mi è capitato, sempre mi capiterà di lavorarci, in queste condizioni, chi lo nega, ma da qui a definirla una regola e una condizione ottimale, ce ne vuole. Quindi, spesso, quando ho tempo, la prima cosa che faccio è quella di liberare la scrivania, o almeno di dare una maggiore logica al mio disordine. Classificare, si sa, è un bisogno primordiale e universale e, oserei dire, la chiave di quasi ogni comportamento, individuale e collettivo, come il caro Durkheim e il carissimo Mauss mi hanno insegnato.

Se riduciamo all’osso il romanzo in questione, si potrebbe dire che mettere ordine è anche una delle ragioni che anima Milton, il protagonista inquieto de “Una questione privata”, di Beppe Fenoglio. E non si tratta di scrivanie, nel suo caso, benché di legna ce ne sia comunque molta. Ma come le scrivanie, anche il suo presente è colmo di oggetti non rimossi, ansie fuori posto, domande mai buttate via e che restano tutte là alla rinfusa nelle pagine di questo bel romanzo, sfocate, fuori portata, come i paesaggi gravati dalla nebbia, dalla rabbia, dall’affanno. “Ed è un libro assurdo”, scriveva Calvino, “misterioso, in cui ciò che si insegue, si insegue per inseguire altro, e quest’altro per inseguire altro ancora e non si arriva al vero perché”. Che è poi quello che capita con qualsiasi questione sospesa, cuore in frantumi, amicizia tradita.

Cose che francamente, a un certo punto, se la nebbia si fa troppo fitta, bisognerebbe lasciar andare, visto che ci si potrebbe anche rimettere la vita. Specie se sei un partigiano che ricapita nella villa della donna amata un tempo, e ancora amata – con la custode che tra una frase e l’altra ti mette in testa strane idee, come quella che lei amasse invece, ricambiata, il tuo compagno di battaglie. Compagno che ti ritrovi a cercare nella nebbia, nel fango, tra i monti, schivando pallottole, fuggendo.

Voglio sperare che abbia parlato seriamente, in spirito di verità, perché non mi abbia fatto costruire un mondo di dubbio e di sofferenza su certe parole dette tanto per dire, approssimativamente. Così come, forse, Fulvia mi ha fatto costruire tutto un mondo di amore su parole dette pure così per dire. Basta, basta, basta. Stavo male per non saper che fare, dove andare, cosa risolvere, domani. Ma ora so cosa farò domani (p. 115).

La guerra fuori e dentro, dunque. E intorno, lo abbiamo detto, una nebbia fittissima che piomba dopo quella visita dal e nel passato. Ma è il passato delle illusioni o quello delle verità? C’è poi differenza? Conta tanto la differenza in ciò che più non ci appartiene? Per distinguere l’uno dall’altro, appunto, Milton sospende la sua battaglia collettiva verso un nemico certo, ravvisabile e si getta nell’opacità di un paesaggio che non riesce più a scorgere, costruendosi  un nemico ambiguo, sfuggente, gettandovisi contro, rischiando molto.

‘Se è vero…’ Era così orribile che si portò le mani sugli occhi, ma con furore, quasi volesse accecarsi. Poi scostò le dita e tra esse vide il nerore della notte completa (p. 26)

Alla fine della storia la prima cosa che ci attraversa la mente è quindi, ma ne valeva la pena? Era proprio così necessario sapere?

Assolutamente no. La ricerca di verità passate (passate, appunto) non è quasi mai una buona idea. Non serve, né al passato né all’oggi: non è utile alla memoria, perché se in quella c’era anche qualche bel ricordo, questo si ritrova marcito, putrido; non serve al presente, se è solo una corsa di pensieri in circolo.

Le verità bisognerebbe a volte lasciarle nella nebbia e sotto il fogliame dei boschi dove gli alberi non cadono, perché non ne sentiamo il rumore. Perché se proprio non si rischia la vita, se ne compromette una buona misura.  Soprattutto, si smette di lottare contro i fascisti. Il che non è mai il caso.

Malgrado Belgrado, by now almost a habit (English version)

Trans. Teodor Reljić

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Belgrade, one year later.

Belgrade. Take two. As it turns out, take two was the best of the batch. Though truth be told, our first visit was rather discreet. Discreet and different, because both arrivals were different.

Last year, we travelled in the company of a conspicuous group – and as we all know, conspicuous groups divert your attention and fragment your point of view into many voices and many needs, all the while cultivating a simmering sense of impatience as you wait in one of the city’s squares, in a café, or at the beginning of a street and end up just staying there, trying your best to get the day’s plans going.

Last year, we were taken around a city that declared itself to us, but without raising its head too high above water; an interesting city, green, but one which left us with no chance to put any full stops in place along our journey. Instead, we ended up an ellipsis: just three dots, floating as if in mid-air.

Last year’s Belgrade was a filtered, modulated city, more so perhaps than all of the other cities we visit with some prior knowledge – cities you’ve had a chance to dream about and imagine. Last year, Belgrade was explored under the purview of somebody already familiar with its contours, determined by our collective expectations of what it should be and limited by the short amount of time we actually had to explore it – entering the city as we did always from the outside, by train or by bus.

Perhaps this was why my desire to return wasn’t as strong this time around. And if it weren’t for Ludo’s suggestion, I may not even have considered it. And so Belgrade would have remained, for at least a few years down the line, a city that was merely sampled for a brief period of time. A short trip, from the outside looking in.

But instead…

Instead, this time Belgrade reminded me just how much I miss living inside a city.

Its sounds and its streets, always the same yet always somehow different, that sense of muddled familiarity that it offers. The mornings fragrant with breakfast smells: fresh bread, cheese, yoghurt, the mountains of fruit and veg occupying large benches. School too, in our case. The sprinkling of water on the pavements, the sight of lowered shutters. Then, the afternoons are warmer, more grey… what shall we do this afternoon? Shall we stay in to study, or shall we go out? A beer, perhaps, in that strange cobblestoned street, ‘a modo loro’? And the books. I barely understood a word of what was written on them, of course, but it was beautiful enough just to see them around.

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Spot the #cat.

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Then, the yellowing evening is accompanied by musical notes as we leave the apartment to once again renounce any dietary vows we may have made – the fault of yet another local dish. But how can you say no?

As long as the dishes are accompanied by the ‘paradisiacal’ tomatoes that you don’t even have to toss – as long as there’s a bašta, a garden. Or a courtyard. Ah! The courtyards. Many courtyards, courtyards that you don’t even expect to be there, built with lightness and grace, with white seats, flowers, with customized furnishings, spiced coffees, prosecco sprinkled with rose petals… please, take me back to those courtyards.

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The ladies who do #dinner

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The night which is never empty, with streets that are always full but never breathless. Constellations of popcorn stands dotting the pavements of the main street, music until late at night, until ‘late’ morphs into ‘early’. The city that shakes itself off at the end of the day, but without too much conviction, the thunder and the waters of a violent storm. At the cinema for two evenings, without an intermission, submerged under red seats. Taking a downhill walk back home, and how beautiful it is to come back on foot, how beautiful it is for so many places to be at walking distance, and capped under the trees in the park.

Last year, I wasn’t quite sure what Belgrade wanted to say, exactly. This year, I learned to read the city just a little bit better.

But… Why? A waiter asks after we specify that we’d like the menus in both English and Serbian, because we’re in fact busy learning the latter language.

Why?

The same question is proffered by many others. Why? And the eyes of our interrogators suggest further questions… Why are you here, and not in Prague, Paris, Madrid? We don’t ‘do’ tourism here, there is no sea here, there are no fireworks and there’s no spectacle or obvious ‘attractions’. Here we live and we muddle along with our daily habits, until every now and then we hit upon an oasis of nostalgia, of memory… but it’s our memory, a memory whose shape you can’t even begin to imagine. And if you try to, you’ll only get the tip of it.

Who knows what they told you about our memories? And who were they, who told you about us? Who knew you would have discovered our elegant, decadent city, green and riparian and situated at the furthest edges of your imagination?

Dear people of the ‘White City’, I’m here to confess to you that my habits were to blame for not getting to you sooner. That, and an imagination stymied by vagueness – which had to be fixed and, somehow, made complete.

And so I’d like to thank you for these days, which were extraordinary and quotidian in equal measure: a bit of work, a short walk, plenty of breaks, tiny shopping lists, a trip to a humid valley out of time, plenty of reading, four rolls of film to develop, gentleness in humbling doses, and a gorgeous loft in which to return.

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Memory house #banjavrujci

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#Office for the week #skadarlija

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It was a holiday without being one. Not really. Because, as I ended up mentioning to Ludo again and again over drinks and various dishes, holidays always leave you with ridiculously high expectations and have you moving at too frenetic a pace to enjoy even the shortest moments of calm.

I’m writing this from Malta, facing the sea which only inspires sadness, as I’m reminded that I don’t go swimming as often as I used to.

In a month, it will be autumn. And the autumn is always the more beautiful ‘half’ of summer because it’s only when the beaches are emptied of people that you can reconcile yourself to the island, learn to love it again, and make peace with your memories.

Perhaps in a month’s time I will be able to cast the pungent nostalgia of Belgrade aside, the kind of feeling that only a foreign place – barring Malta – is able to give me, after just a few days spent traversing it. Nostalgia is a spur that would have dragged me back for years and years on end.

It was a different life. I was very young, and lost amidst exams; unquiet but muted.

It was the summer of 2000. The city was Paris.

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