Saturday, October 08, 2011

Andrea Camilleri, heart and sole

Andrea Camilleri and his Inspector Salvo Montalbano have come to feel like old friends whom I am always happy to see and to report on to our mutual acquaintances.

In The Potter's Field, thirteenth novel in the series, Salvo goes to bed with Ingrid.  Out of bed, his choice of reading matter, always a delight to Camilleri's readers, is a special treat this time. (OK, I'll give it away: Salvo, whose reading in previous novels has included Georges Simenon and Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, this time chooses a novel by Andrea Camilleri.) 

The political gibes, as barbed as ever, are delivered with greater concision even as they ripen into a kind of weariness at the state of the world, though the gibes are as funny as always.  Camilleri has deepened and mellowed his protagonist's view.

In previous books, this has taken the form of increasing tenderness in Salvo's regard for his distant lover, Livia. Here, he feels the pain of a friend's betrayal more sharply than a younger Salvo would have, and his kinship with his fellow creatures even turns him briefly off seafood after he admires the fish at an aquarium in Genoa. (Can I have veal milanese? he asks a waiter. "Sure," the waiter replies,  "if you go to Milan." Salvo settles for an excellent plate of fried sole.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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33 Comments:

Blogger seana said...

meta!

October 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

His parents knew Pirandello, so he comes by his meta honestly.

October 08, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

What exactly was that novel? It sounded a bit peculiar for the author of the mystery series.

October 08, 2011  
Blogger Simona said...

I feel the same about Montalbano. I am traveling to Italy next week and will pick up the latest two. I liked Il campo del vasaio a lot.

The reference to cannoli in the previous post reminded me of one of my favorite scenes, in the novel The Snack Thief, where Montalbano confronts the man from the secret services while eating a cassatina.

October 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I.J., don't forget that Camilleri has had a long career that began well before the first Montalbano novel. The novel in question is a non-Montalbano book, La scomparsa di Patò (2000), that must have been popular in Italy, since it was made into a movie. It's a modern retelling of the Passion of Christ, according to Stephen Sartarelli's end note to The Potter's Field (or, in its original italian, Il campo del vasaio, so you know which book Simona refers to in the comment that follows yours).

October 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Simona, the three most recent Montalbano books listed in the Wikipedia entry on Camilleri are L'età del dubbio, Le prime indagini, and La danza del gabbiano, but these have listed publication dates of 2008 and 2009, and I know you've been to Italy since then. So which books will you look for?

Naturally I like the idea of Le prime indagini -- a look at Salvo's first cases.

October 08, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Simona, an article written for my newspaper recently referred to "a recipe for chicken picatta(sic)." Happily it went through the right copy editor before it will see the light of day.

October 08, 2011  
Blogger Simona said...

Double consonants (is that how you call them?) are a source of problems, though I am not sure I understand why they get shifted. In your example, why does piccata become picatta? I would expect the double consonant to become single, but this shift, which occurs elsewhere, baffles me (another example: panettone becomes pannetone).

The two books I will get are:
Il gioco degli specchi
http://www.sellerio.it/it/catalogo/Gioco-Specchi/Camilleri/4667

and

Il sorriso di Angelica
http://www.sellerio.it/it/catalogo/Sorriso-Angelica/Camilleri/949

The latter was probably published right after my trip to Italy last year. After La danza del gabbiano there is another one: La caccia al tesoro.

October 09, 2011  
Blogger Simona said...

And about Le prime indagini di Montalbano, here's an interesting case of singular vs plural.
Il commissario Montalbano. Le prime indagini was published by Sellerio and is a collection of the first three novels: The Shape of Water, The Terra-Cotta Dog and The Snack Thief
http://www.sellerio.it/it/catalogo/Commissario-Montalbano-Prime-Indagini/Camilleri/1297

La prima indagine di Montalbano is a collection of three stories, one of which has the same title as the book. Like the other collections of stories (short and long), this book was published by Mondadori
http://www.librimondadori.it/web/mondadori/scheda-libro?isbn=978880454451&autoreUUID=61578710-9ea9-11dc-9517-454a8637094f

In the story La prima indagine di Montalbano, he is Vice-commissario and works in a town in the middle of Sicily, far from the sea. As a final note, I have read that they will make movies with the young Montalbano as protagonist, and the actor chosen for the role is Michele Riondino.

So far, none of the collections of stories have been translated into English.

October 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I think the second syllable of picatta would be pronounced cat (the English for gatto) rather than something between the cu in "cut." The latter is closer to the correct pronunciation of piccata. English, at least the American kind, does not much differentiate between single and double consonants in pronunciation, which could be why we mix them up in spelling.

I had heard of La caccia al tesoro before. That list I cited is obviously out of date.

October 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I hope that instance of singular vs. plural does not confuse unwary Italian readers.

October 09, 2011  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Double consonants generally follow short vowels. As for the pronunciation of the a: it's phonetic. It would never be pronounced like the a in cat (a as in father or cut).

October 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I.J., some varieties of Canadian English do pronounce the stressed a in pasta and mafia like the a in cat. I should test my theory and ask the reporter in question to pronounce picatta.

October 09, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Great to hear about Montalbano's new adventure and his reading as well.

Wonder what he thinks of Camilleri's writing. Does he mention that?

Has Montalbano ever mentioned another terrific Italian writer, Antonio Tabucchi?

I just read The Missing Head of
Damesceno Monteiro by Tabucchi, a well-done book.

It's pretty certain that Camilleri and Tabucchi know each other but wonder if Montalbano has mentioned him.

October 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Montalbano may briefly regard the Camilleri novel as strange, but he does not give it a critical evaluation.

I had not heard of Tabucchi, so I don't remember if Camilleri ever has Montalbano read him. Thanks for mentioning his name, though.

October 09, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Good book by Tabucchi. I recommend it. It's not for everyone, a few debates about German philosophers in the mix, but good characters -- a journalist, elderly lawyer and a Roma.

Found out about it at Crime Segments.

Friends are now enjoying it.

I just read somewhere that Montalbano was reading Tabucchi's books.

October 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, now, Roma and German philosophers. That's an intriguing come-on.

I saw a few glimpses of Roma and how they were regarded in Rome.

October 10, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

To recap...

Still-to-be-translated Montalbano novels:

L'età del dubbio = The Age of Doubt (2008)

La danza del gabbiano = The Seagull's Dance oppure The Dance of the (Sea)Gull (2009)

La caccia al tesoro = The Scavenger Hunt (2010)

Il sorriso di Angelica = Angelica's Smile (2010)

Il gioco degli specchi = The Game of Mirrors (2011)

Una voce di notte = A Voice in the Night (n/a)

La tana delle vipere = The Nest of Vipers oppure The Viper’s Nest (n/a)

Riccardino = Souvenir (the final Montalbano novel; to be published after Camilleri’s death).

La scomparsa di Patò (The Disappearance of Patò) was a huge best-seller in Italy; I believe Camilleri's highest-seller of all his works.

For a list (in Italian) of all of Andrea Camilleri's works see the Bibliografia link at vigata.org here.

RAI TV "...movies with the young Montalbano as protagonist, and the actor chosen for the role is Michele Riondino." Il giovane Montalbano, from what I gather in the Italian press and blogs, is an attempt to cash in on the phenomenal ratings success of the Montalbano TV series with Luca Zingaretti as Salvo. The 6 planned episodes are to be loosely based on the short stories in Le prime indagine volume and the emphasis will be more on action. That is, expect a more typical cops-and-robbers kind of show.

There seem to be no plans to translate the Montalbano ss into English.

October 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Grazie!

My verification word: plight

October 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hey, did you see that I was in the P&P last week when Giancarlo was playing cards with the owner of the pizza place next to his restaurant, Giancarlo threw down a card, and the pizza guy said: "Minchia!"

October 10, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Did not; will look for it in an earlier thread (I presume?).

I've got a lot of "homework" to catch up on after my trip!

Re in-jokes such as having Montalbano read a Camilleri novel. In the TV episode of Il campo del vasaio, Zingaretti (Salvo) congratulates Angelo Russo (Catarella) on his fine acting in a local dramatic society's play: "You were really good! Just like that bald guy on TV!"

October 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Welcome bacl.

I had heard that one of the books had Salvo mention "that guy on TV." Maybe what you mention is the accurate version of that. The English translation of the novel Il campo del vasaio contains no such mention.

October 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Welcome back, that is.

October 10, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

A friend who watches Montalbano on RAI TV in Italian will be thrilled.
How will anyone know when it's on?

October 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You could check RAI's website for Italian showings and MHz's website, which will list the cable stations where MHz's programming is available. Complete older Montalbano episodes are or were available at the RAi site, too.

October 10, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I think I mentioned awhile back that my friend got up at 5 a.m. for weeks until he'd seen each Montalbano episode three times.

So now he'll have another bout of 5 a.m. wakening to watch this series.

October 11, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Or get him a bottle of sleeping pills and a collection of Montalbano DVDs for Christmas.

October 11, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How would one get a campaign started to get the "historical" novels of Camilleri translated into English. Each one is a masterpiece
of wit, charm, clever complicated plotting, and marvelous language usage. The Germans love them. The French love them but English readers have no access. What can be done?

November 14, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the note. I suppose a campaign would have to begin with people who have read the books or who have access to throrough, reliable discussions of them --something one could present to an English-language publisher. Readers who are bilingual in English and Italian could then just keep beating the drums and generating discussion of the books until publishers take notice.

What can you tell me about the books? Where can one find discussions of them in English?

November 14, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Catch 22 There are no discussions in English because there are no translations into English. I had hoped that bloggers across the net would take up the banner. . . and you a crime blogger would organize . .(?) . Italians, French and Germans who have access to these books could be of help. University Italian Departments? Below are the names of the only two Italian books that are reviwed in English on Amazon.com. The reviews give a pretty good idea of his work. I have about 30 of his books that are NOT Montalbano and each one is a jewel in its own special way The other books translated from Italian are reviewed on amazon.de and Amazon.fr and, of course, ibs.it

Il Birraio Di Preston
Privo DI Titolo

November 15, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I could mention this to a few bloggers, a few academics, a translator or publisher or two.

November 15, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful!!! Thank you. I wish you luck. For too long the best part, I think, of his work has been denied access to only English speaking readers. There's such a disconnect between the Montalbano stories and his other work that few English readers know there's a whole body of other good stuff out there

November 16, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

One occasional commenter here is big Camilleri fan, reads Italian, and may have read some of his non-Montalbano work. She certainly is aware of it. I could call this discussion to her attention.

November 16, 2011  

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