Magris: We are in World War IV

One of the most important contemporary Italian writers, Claudio Magris, presented in Belgrade yesterday his newest novel “Suspended Procedure”, published by Arhipelag in Serbia.

Magris is an official guest of the 6th Festival of European Literature that is currently taking place in Belgrade. Arhipelag has published most of the renowned Italian writer’s work including his novels “Danube: A Sentimental Journey from the Source to the Black Sea”, “Interferences from the Sabre”, “Microcosms” and “A Different Sea”.

For his last book “Suspended Procedure”, he found inspiration in a Utopian idea of Professor Diego de Henriquez who spent his entire life collecting weapons for his personal war museum.

“Suspended Procedure” is a story about love and resistance, war and oblivion, about people who refused to kill and those who were never punished for killing. The story takes place in a factory in Trieste in the last two years of the World War II which was used as a concentration camp with the only known crematorium in Italy at that time.

“Nobody in Trieste dared to talk about this for a long time, not even an anti-fascist family like mine. Like they wanted to erase it from their minds…”, Magris said at a press conference.

He is also very well aware of how literature and writers can influence readers.

“Literature can indirectly teach us and make us feel something, help us change.  I owe a lot to books and writers who made me more open. However, it is not enough to write a book and think that a problem has been solved”, he says.

Magris adds that we should also not forget that some of the biggest writers of the 20th century were Nazis, Fascists and Stalinists.

“When, for instance, Pirandello sends a telegram to Mussolini expressing his solidarity apropos Matteotti’s murder, we come to realize that, although we understand and respect him as a writer, his maid probably knows more about politics than he did. There are similar cases to be found in Yugoslav wars too”, Magris says.

“I believe that we are in the Fourth World War. The Third World War ended up with the West winning and with the demise of Communism. Now, everybody is fighting against everybody, but nobody knows who they are really fighting against. When the United States funds the fight against ISIS, we really don’t know the real reasons why they are doing it. Similar thing happened in the First World War with one difference – back then people were under the illusion that that would be the last world war ever, that peace would prevail and that the issue with borders would be resolved. What transpired afterwards was an even bigger massacre”, Magris adds.

Europe is playing with fire

The main heroine of the latest novel by Magris is a daughter of an African-American and a Jamaican woman from Trieste, both coming from the nations that have experienced the burden of isolation and paid the tragic price of xenophobia and racism. Despite lessons from the past, these urges have never been uprooted, and today, they are being reincarnated in the context of the crisis with the migrants from Africa and Middle and Far East.

“This could be the biggest problem of today. In addition to the problems and resistance that is purely ethnic (i.e. nobody should live in Lombardy apart from Lombards, let alone black people), these exiles, who are risking so much, end up being rejected in the end. And there are many of them. This is a big problem that people sometimes try to deal with it through racism. Europe is playing with fire and that could cost us all dearly”, warns the Italian writer, who is also known for his political columns in the Corriere Della Sera daily.

(Politika, 28.06.2017)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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