A good man is hard to find (titolo preso dal primo racconto) di Flannery O’Connor è una raccolta di dieci racconti che lasciano chiara la sensazione di aver letto dieci capitoli di un unico romanzo, attraversato da elementi comuni e caratterizzanti una lettura molto interessante. Possiamo raggruppare tali elementi come segue:
aspetto linguistico– La lingua americana arricchita e colorata dall’uso del southern slang americano che contribuisce a caratterizzare i personaggi e a definire l’ambientazione;
temi-La diversità in molte delle sue declinazioni: colore della pelle, disabilità fisica, razzismo, sfaccettature della religiosità, malinteso senso della moralità, rapporti familiari, disfunzioni della società americana. Il pavone simbolo di magia, Particolarmente efficace è lo sguardo di Flannery sui bambini.
stile– Peculiare ed incisivo, permeato di ironia spesso amara e macabra. Caustico nei confronti di una società ipocrita e malata, permeata da una religiosità falsa e opportunistica.
“Comedy in O’Connor manifests in countless ways: in tonal irony, in dialogue in which characters inadvertently reveal their moral lapses, in the perfect and telling detail. It is this last in which I find O’Connor’s greatest genius.”
struttura dei racconti-Per lo più basata su un personaggio principale e con finale aperto anche se non manca in alcuni la sorpresa finale che si fa gioco delle aspettative del lettore. O’Connor dichiara apertamente che ogni racconto veicola un messaggio, un insegnamento.
Dentro i racconti
A good man is hard to find. L’ aspetto più bello del racconto è la tensione narrativa, ma anche il tono ironico e paradossale, l’ironia macabra. Prendiamo ad esempio l’abbigliamento. Quello “ricercato” della nonna, cosi se muore in viaggio tutti diranno che è una lady e quello “criminale” del Misfit (il cattivo) che indossa la camicia di Bailey con i pappagallini azzurri.
Suspense affascinante alimentata dalla nonna che ce la mette tutta a “redimere” The Misfit perché convinta che in fondo sia un buon uomo. Ma il suo nome dice tutto. Bellissimo anche lo stile: caratterizzato dal dialetto stretto di Misfit. Famiglia Bailey avete preso la strada sbagliata! È molto difficile trovare un uomo buono!
““A good man is hard to find,” Red Sammy said. “Everything is getting terrible. I remember the day you could go off and leave your screen door unlatched. Not no more.””
The Misfit- “call myself The Misfit,” he said, “because I can’t make what all I done wrong fit what all I gone through in punishment.”
Addio nonnina!– ““Now you be a good boy,” she said, “and let me get some sleep. Just don’t get off my lap.” She lay her head back and as he watched, gradually her eyes closed and her mouth fell open to show a few long scattered teeth, some gold and some darker than her face; she began to whistle and blow like a musical skeleton. There was no one in the car but themselves and the driver and when he saw she was asleep, he took out the flowered handkerchief and unfolded it and examined it carefully. Then he folded it up again and unzipped a place in the innerlining of his coat and hid it in there and shortly he went to sleep himself.”
The river – La storia è come un tuffo dentro la peculiare religiosità dell’America profonda. A tratti inquietante. O’Connor fa un ritratto critico e dolente del Cattolicesimo, la “sua” religione, che definisce “The stinking mad shadow of Jesus” e che rappresenta il cuore di tutti i suoi scritti.
Bevel incontra Gesù- “book. It was a small book, pale brown on the outside with gold edges and a smell like old putty. It was full of pictures, one of the carpenter driving a crowd of pigs out of a man.”
Battesimo collettivo- “A man in overalls and a brown coat leaned forward and dipped his hand in the water quickly and shook it and leaned back, and a woman held a baby over the edge of the bank and splashed its feet with water. One man moved a little distance away and sat down on the bank and took off his shoes and waded out into the stream; he stood there for a few minutes with his face tilted as far back as it would go, then he waded back and put on his shoes. All this time, the preacher sang and did not appear to watch what went on.”
Bevel è battezzato– “Bevel’s eyes were dark and dilated. “You count now,” the preacher said. “You didn’t even count before.””
The life you save may be your own, in cui si svolge la storia di Lucynell e di sua madre. Molto triste. L’uomo che si presenta alla loro porta alla fine si rivela essere quello che è: un vagabondo, forse affascinante ma manipolatore. La donna si lascia ingannare, fino ad accettarlo come genero e a “vendergli” la sua povera, innocente e indifesa Lucynell.
“The old woman and her daughter were sitting on their porch when Mr. Shiftlet came up their road for the first time. The old woman slid to the edge of her chair and leaned forward, shading her eyes from the piercing sunset with her hand. The daughter could not see far in front of her and continued to play with her fingers. Although the old woman lived in this desolate spot with only her daughter and she had never seen Mr. Shiftlet before, she could tell, even from a distance, that he was a tramp and no one to be afraid of.”
A stroke of good fortune. Molto intensa ed efficace è la descrizione del parto imminente, quasi onirica, da film horror. Dopo aver perso tanti altri bimbi, la donna sembra essere inconsapevole di ciò che sta per accadere. La palmista, che aveva letto la sua mano, aveva ragione. “Farà male ma porterà fortuna “A stroke of good fortune”
La dolorosa esperienza del travaglio ignorato– “She sat on the step, clutching the banister spoke while the breath came back into her a thimbleful at a time and the stairs stopped seesawing. She opened her eyes and gazed down into the dark hole, down to the very bottom where she had started up so long ago. “Good Fortune,” she said in a hollow voice that echoed along all the levels of the cavern, “Baby.” “Good Fortune, Baby,” the three echoes leered.”
A temple of the Holy ghost è quasi un’ ossessione religiosa, a cominciare dal titolo. Due sorelle birichine in vacanza dal collegio-convento, che si definiscono “ Temple of the Holy Ghost”; una bambina che le ospita curiosa e strafottente, con un punto di vista sulle persone molto interessante; la giostra a settori, alcuni dei quali proibiti; gli inni religiosi, la storia del transgender che aiuta la bimba ad a accettarsi, perché è come Dio l’ha fatta…
“All weekend the two girls were calling each other Temple One and Temple Two, shaking with laughter and getting so red and hot that they were positively ugly, particularly Joanne who had spots on her face anyway. They came in the brown convent uniforms they had to wear at Mount St. Scholastica but as soon as they opened their suitcases, they took off the uniforms and put on red skirts and loud blouses. They put on lipstick and their Sunday shoes and walked around in the high heels all over the house, always passing the long mirror in the hall”
The artificial nigger vede nonno e nipote in gita a Atlanta, la grande città, il mondo sconosciuto, negro e pericoloso… Questo racconto è meraviglioso, forse il più bello. Innocenza, pregiudizi, paure e scoperte accompagnano il vecchio e il bambino nel percorso cittadino…
Lo sguardo innocente dei bambini- “The group proceeded up the rest of the aisle and out of the car. Mr. Head’s grip on Nelson’s arm loosened. “What was that?” he asked. “A man,” the boy said and gave him an indignant look as if he were tired of having his intelligence insulted. “What kind of a man?” Mr. Head persisted, his voice expressionless. “A fat man,” Nelson said. He was beginning to feel that he had better be cautious. “You don’t know what kind?” Mr. Head said in a final tone. “An old man,” the boy said and had a sudden foreboding that he was not going to enjoy the day. “That was a nigger,” Mr. Head said and sat back. Nelson”
Incontrano il primo negro, ma non è nero!- ““I’d of thought you’d know a nigger since you seen so many when you was in the city on your first visit,” Mr. Head continued. “That’s his first nigger,” he said to the man across the aisle. The boy slid down into the seat. “You said they were black,” he said in an angry voice. “You never said they were tan. How do you expect me to know anything when you don’t tell me right?”
I veri negri- “Three very black Negroes in white suits and aprons were running up and down the aisle, swinging trays and bowing and bending over the travelers eating breakfast. One of them rushed up to Mr. Head and Nelson and said, holding up two fingers, “Space for two!” but Mr. Head replied in a loud voice, “We eaten before we left!””
La fascinazione di Nelson per la donna nera- “He understood she was making fun of him but he was too paralyzed even to scowl. He stood drinking in every detail of her. His eyes traveled up from her great knees to her forehead and then made a triangular path from the glistening sweat on her neck down and across her tremendous bosom and over her bare arm back to where her fingers lay hidden in her hair. He suddenly wanted her to reach down and pick him up and draw him against her and then he wanted to feel her breath on his face. He wanted to look down and down into her eyes while she held him tighter and tighter. He had never had such a feeling before. He felt as if he were reeling down through a pitchblack tunnel.”
Tutto è perdonato, si torna a casa-Addio Atlanta!– “Nelson, composing his expression under the shadow of his hat brim, watched him with a mixture of fatigue and suspicion, but as the train glided past them and disappeared like a frightened serpent into the woods, even his face lightened and he muttered, “I’m glad I’ve went once, but I’ll never go back again!””
A circle in the fire rivela l’interessante sguardo di Flannery sui bambini, specialmente sui preadolescenti. Tre ragazzi arrivano a turbare la quiete del posto e la vita di due donne, Mrs Pritchard e Mrs Cope, che incarnano un certo tipo di “casalinga” americana di campagna. Un’altra donna in un “polmone d’acciao” diventa oggetto di assurde discussioni. Il racconto è denso di significati: il concetto americano di proprietà, i preadolescenti incontenibili, la campagna mitica, Atlanta infernale. E un po’ di “Signore delle mosche” di Golding..
Schiavi indolenti-“Her negroes were as destructive and impersonal as the nut grass”
Il ragazzo con la valigia-Tutte le paure-“ain’t forgetting them,” Mrs. Pritchard said. “I wouldn’t be none surprised if they didn’t have a gun in that there suitcase.””
Accontentavi di ciò che avete- ““They’ve gone,” Mrs. Cope said, “poor things,” and she began to tell the child how much they had to be thankful for, for she said they might have had to live in a development themselves or they might have been Negroes or they might have been in iron lungs or they might have been Europeans ridden in boxcars like cattle, and she began a litany of her blessings, in a stricken voice, that the child, straining her attention for a sudden shriek in the dark, didn’t listen to.”
A late encounter with the enemy è la storia dell’ incontro fatale del centenario generale Sash, alla festa di laurea della nipote.
“General Sash was a hundred and four years old. He lived with his granddaughter, Sally Poker Sash, who was sixty-two years old and who prayed every night on her knees that he would live until her graduation from college.”
Festa di laurea al solleone- “The visitors stood on the grass, picking out their graduates. Men were pushing back their hats and wiping their foreheads and women were lifting their dresses slightly from the shoulders to keep them from sticking to their backs. The graduates in their heavy robes looked as if the last beads of ignorance were being sweated out of them.
Il generale assiste impettito- “with the corpse, in the long line at the Coca-Cola machine.”
Good country people- Chi sono le brave persone? Quelle che sembrano tali? Gente di campagna o gente di città? Questo racconto ci mostra tutto il cinismo di cui alcune persone sono capaci. Storia di un incontro d’amore promettente. Bel racconto con finale a sorpresa. Non sempre tutto è come sembra!
Brave persone- “She realized that nothing is perfect and that in the Freemans she had good country people and that if, in this day and age, you get good country people, you had better hang onto them.”
Joy la filosofa- “The girl had taken the Ph.D. in philosophy and this left Mrs Hopewell at a complete loss. You could say, “My daughter is a nurse,” or “My daughter is a school teacher,” or even, “My daughter is a chemical engineer.” You could not say, “My daughter is a philosopher.” That was something that had ended with the Greeks and Romans. All day Joy sat on her neck in a deep chair, reading. Sometimes she went for walks but she didn’t like dogs or cats or birds or flowers or nature or nice young men.”
Venditori porta a porta- Good country people- ““People like you don’t like to fool with country people like me!” “Why!” she cried, “good country people are the salt of the earth! Besides, we all have different ways of doing, it takes all kinds to make the world go ’round.”
Diversità e eguaglianze ““Well, it takes all kinds of people to make the world go ’round,” Mrs. Hopewell said. “It’s very good we aren’t all alike.” “Some people are more alike than others,” Mrs. Freeman said.”
Corteggiamenti- “like girls that wear glasses,” he said. “I think a lot. I’m not like these people that a serious thought don’t ever enter their heads. It’s because I may die.” “I may die too,” she said suddenly and looked up at him. His eyes were very small and brown, glittering feverishly.”
The displaced person- Il cuore del racconto riguarda i rifugiati, gente che scappa dalla guerra di Hitler. Una famiglia di Polacchi vuole ricambiare il dono dell’accoglienza offrendo il proprio lavoro a chi li ospita con tanta benevolenza. Sono bravissimi. Ma, tutto il mondo è paese, e la reazione dei locali è facilmente intuibile. Tema di grande attualità che rende il racconto “pulsante” di emozioni.
Rifugiati polacchi– ““They can’t talk,” Mrs. Shortley said. “You reckon they’ll know what colors even is?” and Mrs. McIntyre had said that after what those people had been through, they should be grateful for anything they could get. She said to think how lucky they were to escape from over there and come to a place like this.”
Pregiudizi e rifugiati- “Mrs. Shortley recalled a newsreel she had seen once of a small room piled high with bodies of dead naked people all in a heap, their arms and legs tangled together, a head thrust in here, a head there, a foot, a knee, a part that should have been covered up sticking out, a hand raised clutching nothing. Before you could realize that it was real and take it into your head, the picture changed and a hollow-sounding voice was saying, “Time marches on!”
This was the kind of thing that was happening every day in Europe where they had not advanced as in this country, and watching from her vantage point, Mrs. Shortley had the sudden intuition that the Gobblehooks, like rats with typhoid fleas, could have carried all those murderous ways over the water with them directly to this place. If they had come from where that kind of thing was done to them, who was to say they were not the kind that would also do it to others? The”
Chi sono i displaced people- ““They come from over the water,” Mrs. Shortley said with a wave of her arm. “They’re what is called Displaced Persons.” “Displaced Persons,” he said. “Well now. I declare. What do that mean?” “It means they ain’t where they were born at and there’s nowhere for them to go—like if you was run out of here and wouldn’t nobody have you.” “It seem like they here, though,” the old man said in a reflective voice. “If they here, they somewhere.””
I profughi cominciano a diventare un problema e uniscono persino bianchi e neri – “But with foreigners on the place, with people who were all eyes and no understanding, who had come from a place continually fighting, where the religion had not been reformed—with this kind of people, you had to be on the lookout every minute. She thought there ought to be a law against them. There was no reason they couldn’t stay over there and take the places of some of the people who had been killed in their wars and butcherings.”
Profughi diavoli- “The trouble with these people was, you couldn’t tell what they knew. Every time Mr. Guizac smiled, Europe stretched out in Mrs. Shortley’s imagination, mysterious and evil, the devil’s experiment station.”
La solita Europa vista dagli USA- meglio i negri che i polacchi “They’re full of crooked ways. They never have advanced or reformed. They got the same religion as a thousand years ago. It could only be the devil responsible for that. Always fighting amongst each other. Disputing. And then get us into it. Ain’t they got us into it twict already and we ain’t got no more sense than to go over there and settle it for them and then they come on back over here and snoop around and find your still and go straight to her. And liable to kiss her hand any minute. Do you hear”
“ While she is often ascribed to the Southern Gothic tradition, she insisted that this was a poor assessment. As an anointed literary daughter of the South and dedicated Catholic, O’Connor’s work was often reduced to statements about religion and the South. Yet in her lectures, interviews, and stories, O’Connor combatted national myths about Southern life and art by generating a South where Biblical sensibilities supported traditions of genteel manners and persistent storytelling, despite the risk to these traditions posed by industrialization.
She repeatedly rejected universality in favor of the truth she developed through her regional identity and local understanding. She worked to inform readers about the world of her stories so that they would not only entertain, but educate as well.”Biography of Flannery O’Connor, American Novelist (thoughtco.com)
Introduzione di Lauren Groff
L’introduzione alla raccolta è molto interessante. Groff ci aiuta a conoscere Flannery, le sue scelte di vita e di scrittura, fornendoci in tal modo gli strumenti per capire i suoi racconti.
“O’Connor can teach us any number of things. Perhaps the most beautiful of all of these lessons, and the one that deserves to be shouted from the rooftops and heard by everyone, is that we should all pay attention to the mingled beauty and ridiculousness of the people around us; that we should seek to understand them through humor, which, as in the stories of Flannery O’Connor, is at its best and most effective when it is equal parts deadly weapon and act of”
Espansioni in Podcast
da Uomini e Profeti RAI3
Flannery e Il “Sud infestato da Cristo”
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