Home » Translation helps immeasurably with Camilleri’s work

Posted: February 26, 2020

Translation helps immeasurably with Camilleri’s work

Book Review

By Derryll White

Camilleri, Andrea (2005).  The Paper Moon

Stephen Sartarelli’s translation and notes helps immeasurably with this work. The normal North American reader would be lost in the intricacies of Inspector Montalbano’s musings were it not for Sarterelli’s explanations of how the Italian mind and body politic works. Camilleri’s biting commentary on former President Silvio Berlusconi’s actions would be lost.

Much clearer, however, is Montalbano’s attempts to understand the workings of the female mind and soul. He is lost at every turn. But he does puzzle through the labyrinthine network of Italian politics and organized crime.

As all of Camilleri’s books do, ‘The Paper Moon’ offers insight into the province of Sicily and the country of Italy. It also wonderfully portrays the lust of an ageing man for a life that may now be beyond his reach. Light reading, perhaps, but a story that makes one think on a number of different levels.


DOMINATION – “Overbearing?”

“I don’t know how else to define it, Inspector.  Words like ‘assiduous,’ ‘affectionate,’ ‘loving’ don’t really give a sense of it.  They fall short.  Michela felt this sort of absolute obligation to look after her brother, as though he were a little boy.”

POLITICAL SPIN – Don’t you see what’s happening to the ‘Clean Hands’ judges?  They’re being blamed for the suicides and heart attacks of some the accused.  The facts that the accused were corrupt and corrupters and deserved to go to jail gets glassed over.  According to these sensitive souls, the real culprit is not the culprit who in a moment of shame commits suicide but the judge who made him feel ashamed.

THE CIVILIZATION OF TODAY AND THE CEREMONY OF ACCESS – What did it mean?  It meant that, today, to enter any place whatsoever – an airport, a bank, a jeweler’s or watchmaker’s shop, you had to submit to a specific ceremony of control.  Why ceremony?  Because it served no concrete purpose.  A thief, or hijacker, a terrorist – if they really want to enter – will find a way.  The ceremony doesn’t even serve to protect the people on the other side of the entrance.  So whom does it serve?  It serves the very person about to enter, to make him think that, once inside, he can feel safe.

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.

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