“Mirrors of time”, “Flamboyant twilight of an old conformist”, “Neither milk nor wool”…


This week, a choice of letters from the dazzling writer of The Art of Joy, the Italian Goliarda Sapienza (1924-1996), who offer valuable keys to understanding her life and her work; the hair-raising monologue, full of enjoyable anger, of an old bitch on the verge of killing herself to escape illness, from the pen of Emmanuelle Pirotte; a collection of articles directed by the historian Nicolas Siron to look at classical Athens from the Ve century BC under a new eye, notably through the prism of the Agora; an essay on writing and a collection of portraits of compatriots, real or invented, by the Haitian novelist Lyonel Trouillot; the torn chronicle, finally, of families obscured through the news of Emmanuelle Salasc.

CORRESPONDENCE. “Mirrors of Time”, by Goliarda Sapienza

Born in May 1924 in Catania, Sicily, the writer Goliarda Sapienza, who died in 1996, would have been 100 years old this year. Among the many publications linked to this anniversary, Mirrors of time, an anthology of his correspondence, closes the edition of his complete works at the Tripode. It offers an insight into the endearing letter writer that was the author of The Art of Joy (Viviane Hamy, 2005; reed. Le Tripode, 2015), this monster novel which consumed ten years of his life and was never published during his lifetime.

Among these letters, which go from 1950 to 1996, some are addressed to prestigious recipients like Luchino Visconti, for whom she shot small roles in the cinema. Through them, we reconstruct the many lives of Goliarda Sapienza – in the cinema, in the theater, in literature -, we touch on the death impulses, linked among other things to the wounds inflicted on her by her novel “archirefused”, which took hold of her regularly, and we are reborn each time with her.

The tone is by turns deep, cheerful, metaphysical, desperate, mischievous or ironic, but always colored with hope. Art of joy, lightness of being, Lady Wisdom, this is the meaning of Sapienza in Italian, and the Italian cultivates them with grace and courage. “Pirandello always laughed when the audience whistled him”, she notes several times at the end of the novel. Fl.N.


“Mirrors of time. Correspondences”, by Goliarda Sapienza, edited by Angelo Pellegrino, translated from Italian by Nathalie Castagné, Le Tripode, 320 p., €25.

NOVEL. “Flamboyant twilight of an old conformist”, by Emmanuelle Pirotte

The narrator does some housework, but not the one you think. What she attacks is her own existence, in order to scour the cowardice, the lies, which were “the udders of [s]we destiny ». To counter Alzheimer’s disease, it will look elsewhere if it is there: the day after tomorrow, at 8 p.m., the voice that engulfs us in its gall will self-destruct.

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