Sicily is the myth island… Here Ulysses, Homer’s epic hero, was drawn by the mermaids singing while his long journey back home.
This island has always exerted a strong magnetism, maybe due to its triangular shape or because of its position in the hub of the Mediterranean sea. Probably what appeal most is a wide variety of landscapes found, from valleys to hills, from shores to mountains, to the abrupt and vigorous nature of volcanoes, hellish and heavenly at the same time.
Its three sides face almost all the emerging continents: Africa, Asia and Europe. In Sicily nobody has passed by without leaving sign of his passage, even genetically! That’s why the Sicilian does not have its own classifieable features: dark, oriental, Arab, or blonde, tall with green eyes and red hair.
So the literature, so varied and multiple, Literature is various, numerous, lengthy, and Baroque, it cannot be called “Sicilian” but European; dry and vigorous like described in one of its fathers’ prose, Giovanni Verga, the disputed writer between Vizzini, where it is supposed he was born, which recurs in his works and his pictures, and Catania, where his birth was officialy registered and where the house of his stay is.
The great writer, father of the Verismo, reinvented the Italian language with a taste of dialect, a language that inspires, lives, delights and suffers with the characters of his several works. The novels Mastro Don Gesualdo , turned into a great italian fiction by the director Giacomo Vaccari, I Malavoglia, transposed by Luchino Visconti into La terra trema, set in the village of Acitrezza, as well as the Cavalleria Rusticana, played by the great Mascagni, which introduce Verga and the opera to the whole world, are the works that best represent his Sicily.
All the great Sicilian writers are unconceivable without their poetic universe made of sets and places. This happens for Luigi Capuana as well, a writer from Mineo, small Village in Catania area, great giant of literature and a very productive author with several interests, from literature to local tradition, to fairy tales, until the emerging art of photography, a passion shared with Verga, who was bounded to with a fond friendship and common ideals.
Verga, Capuana and Federico De Roberto, , created the Verismo , which borrows, for some ways, some themes of the french naturalism. De Roberto makes a detailed description of Catania in his novel “I Vicerè“, and the kind of style carried out, with a particular referring to the Monastero dei Benedettini on one hand, and to the big family of the Uzeda Princes on the other. A choral novel, a saga composed of three great novels.
Who born in Sicily seems to suffer from a thinking and writing incontinence, which, connected to a historic pessimistic and melancholy, makes this people disillusioned and resistant to change but curious and leaky about novelties carried out by the winds! Càlati iuncu ca passa la china! (Lean over, little cane, as the river is flooding!)
Drawing a rich geo-literary map of Sicily, tracing an itinerary of writers, it is like outlining a Baroque plot.
For example, the writer Vitaliano Brancati born in Pachino, near Syracuse. He was much from Catania, for his literature studying and living, father of the saga gallismo, he used to make fun, through a farce caricatural the supermanhood of the fascism hero, cloaking him in the Sicilian playful habit.
From Capo Passero let’s move to Capo Peloro: in Alì Terme, close by Messina, the city from the golden dock to the sailors reaching its coasts, Stefano d’Arrigo was born, writer of the Horcynus Orca, a detailed portrait about Sicilian fishermen’s hard life.
Remaining in Messina, in Roccalumera, we find the life places of Salvatore Quasimodo, representative poet of the European Hermetism, which tells, in his verses, about the themes of existential loneliness and the exile from the birth land, where the island becomes the embleme of the lost happiness.
In a sleepy and royal Palermo, the capital of the island, we find out its own universe: Muslim, Federico II , Spain viceroyalty cosmopolitan, anarchic and contradictory, stunning of beauty and ancient of opulence, so that many noble families wanted to live there.