Andrea Camilleri – Inseguendo un’ombra / Following a Shadow

inseguendounombraThis is the story of Samuel Ben Nissim Abul Farag, Guglielmo Raimondo Moncada, and Flavius Mithridates. They are not three different people but one individual.

Caltabellotta, near Agrigento, 1465. Samuel Ben Nissim belongs to the Jewish community; he is fifteen years old and wears a cloth badge sewn onto his shirt to distinguish him from Christians. Intelligent and well educated, he already knows several foreign languages. His father, Rabbi Nissim, has great ambitions for his son, whom he also educates in the cabbala. But destiny has other ideas; circumstances compel the boy to take refuge in a monastery. The promising young man becomes a converted Jew. Despised by the Jewish community and cursed by his family, Samuel isolates himself behind the walls of the monastery; he wants his family to forget about him. Educated in the Catholic faith, on his conversion he takes the name of his instructor, Count Guglielmo Raimondo Moncada. Later he moves to Rome, becomes a priest and makes his name as a preacher. The climax of his ecclesiastical career comes on Good Friday in 1481, when he delivers a sermon on the Passion in the presence of Pope Sixtus IV. Then something untoward happens: ‘falling into grave error’ – that is all the documents say – he loses his ecclesiastical status and disappears. We next come across him some time later under the name of Flavius Mithridates – the king of Pontus, famous for his knowledge of languages and for his resistance to poison – teaching the cabbala and eastern languages to Pico della Mirandola.

Camilleri explains that he came across this story in the summer of 1980, when reading Leonardo Sciascia’s foreword to the catalogue of an exhibition by a painter friend of his. Sciascia’s curiosity stimulated Camilleri’s curiosity; he felt a powerful urge to find out, to understand, to follow that shadow. He does not repeat the archival research that others have done before him, but approaches the character through the resources of fiction. Though peopled with many characters who really existed, Inseguendo un’ombra is not a historical novel, but a work of the imagination. After all, as Camilleri notes, ‘doesn’t the word invention come from invenire, which in Latin means to rediscover, to find again?’

Andrea Camilleri was born in Porto Empedocle in 1925.

He worked as a theatre, television and radio director and scriptwriter.

He has been a  playwright, an essayist, a professor of theatre studies, and a producer for Italy’s state-owned television network (RAI).

In 1978 he published his first novel, The Way Things Go, and since then he has never stopped writing, publishing more than 90 volumes, including historical novels, crime novels and political essays.

The first story featuring his main character, Inspector Salvo Montalbano, a fictional Sicilian police detective, was published in 1994 under the title “The Shape of Water”.

In the last 21 years he has written 24 Montalbano books, all published by Sellerio, which have reached the top of the bestseller lists in Italy and in Europe.

His books have sold almost 25 million copies in Italy and 15 million copies abroad, and have been translated into more than 32 languages.

Montalbano has become one of the most popular screen heroes in Italian cultural history, and the TV series has been sold and broadcast in 63 countries.

Andrea Camilleri has won numerous prestigious literary awards in Italy and in Europe, including the Premio Pepe Carvalho, the Festival del Noir BC Negra, the Crime Writer’s Association International Dagger, the Premio Internacional de Novela Negra, and the Cité de Paris.

Sellerio

La memoria

256 pages

14 euros

EAN 978 88389 31697

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