Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Andrea Camilleri's latest

My fondness for Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Salvo Montalbano grows as the elderly Camilleri lends his middle-aged protagonist an ever more tender and sympathetic view of the world.

In The Patience of the Spider, the eighth Montalbano novel translated into English, Montalbano delves into the disappearance of a young woman and its effect on the political hopes of the man apparently responsible for her kidnapping.

Montalbano is moved to tears — he conceals them — by the presence of his lover, Livia, and stricken with pangs of tenderness and an odd sense of loneliness and relief when she leaves at the end of her stay. He is shocked by the news that a friend — a man his own age! — has become a grandfather. He is frightened to panic in the presence of a dying woman, yet cheered by the sharp mind of the missing young woman's boyfriend, who declares that he wants to be a police officer and, thinks Montalbano, would make a good one. And at all times, he reflects on his own reactions.

Camilleri's sympathy abounds for minor characters in difficult situations and even for the wife of the apparent kidnapper, after she is accosted and assaulted by a gang of respectable women angry at her husband's conduct.

The apparent kidnapper is a slick and ambitious engineer who benefits both from Italy's traditional political corruption and from the new varieties enabled by Silvio Berlusconi. (The explanatory notes by the translator, Stephen Sartarelli, are especially helpful here.) But corruption is not the devil. Think love, both thwarted and realized, revenge, and yearning hope for redemption, and you'll be closer to the tone of this moving novel.
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I could be imagining this, but this translation seems to retain more Sicilian dialect and sayings than do previous volumes in the series. One example: "`Cu al sangu sò fa mali / mori mangiatu da li maiali,' or `He who harms his own flesh and blood / shall be eaten by pigs and die."

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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6 Comments:

Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Peter,you seem to be ahead of me in your reading. I have just started That Damned Season and had The Patience of the Spider ready to read next. I shall have a rethink so that we don't duplicate.

June 21, 2007  
Anonymous Maxine said...

Can't wait! I have only managed to read number 1 so far, though have 2-4 in my pile thanks to Amazon's pricing. When will I get around to them? Since starting blogging, people like you and Uriah keep making that pile get even bigger!
But, Peter, I agree, I am very glad to have discovered Camilleri thanks to Norm/Uriah, and will savour the rest of the series I am sure.
Who needs youth? Not me!

June 21, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Uriah, if it makes you feel any better, I just bought Carte Blanche today, so I'm about to get back behind you in my reading.

And why make an effort to avoid duplication? It would be fun to sprinkle my discussions with an occasional "As Norm/Uriah at Crime Scraps says ... " or "For an unaccountably, weirdly contrary opinion, see Crime Scraps."

June 21, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Maxine, I had read one or two of the earlier Montalbano novels, and I don't remember the emphasis on aging that I found in the latest book and in The Scent/Smell of the Night. That will be something to look for if I go back and read more of the earlier books. It could be one of the more interesting ways that a series character changes over time.

June 21, 2007  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

I can use that phrase "an unaccountable weird contrary opinion" as a title for a post.

June 23, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Please do!

June 23, 2007  

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