Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pirandello's ashes

For a little project I've been working on I turned to the remarkable story of the ashes of Luigi Pirandello, the great Italian novelist and playwright of the early 20th century. I present the story here, as written by Filcusum on the blog Il Mestiere di Leggere and put into English, after a fashion, by Google Translate:
When he died on December 10, 1936, the children found half crumpled piece of paper in which Pirandello had written: 'I. Both let pass in silence my death. Friends, enemies that prayer is not talking about newspapers, but it does not even mention. Neither preacher nor equity. II. Dead, I do not get dressed. I s'avvolga naked in a sheet. And no flowers on the bed and no lighted candle. III. Chariot of the lowest class of the poor. Nude. And no one accompanied me, neither relatives nor friends. The cart, the horse, the coachman stop. IV. Burn me. And my body just burned, or left disperse, because nothing, not even the ashes, I would like to advancing me. But if you can not do the cinerary urn is taken to Sicily, and in some rough stone walled countryside of Girgenti, where I was born. "

Points one, two and three were executed to perfection, with great scorn of the regime of Mussolini himself-says-he wanted to do a great funeral fascist regalia. Prior to respect the wishes expressed in the fourth point, instead, spent decades and adventures, mishaps and adventures, and worthy of Pirandello's own pen. Let's proceed in order.

FIRST FUNERAL-Two days after his death in a chariot of the lowest class of the lowest class, a case brought to the crematorium. But no one heard her to indulge his desire to spread the ashes to the wind, a practice unheard of in those days before it illegal and opposed by the Church. The ashes were then collected in an urn and taken to the Roman cemetery of Verano, where they remained for eleven years

THE SECOND FUNERAL-After the war, in 1947, the mayor of DC Girgenti, in the meantime become Agrigento, Lauricella, claimed the honor for his city to give Christian burial and funeral and solemn to the ashes of the illustrious countryman. He turned nothing less than the Democrat chairman of the board at the time, Alcide De Gasperi, who - despite the considerable difficulties still faced in transport - earned an American military plane for the transfer from Rome to Agrigento. To accompany the remains of the great dramatist was appointed Professor. Gaspare Ambrosini, known Pirandello and pirandellologo and future first President of the Constitutional Court. Place the ashes in a precious vase of the fifth century BC greek imballatolo well and good, shock-proof, in a wooden box, the plane was ready to go when a dozen people-all-came to Sicily ' plane shortly before takeoff is requesting a ride. The teacher, aware of the serious problems of displacement of the time talking to the pilots of the 'Air Force and obtained consent.

As they settled, someone asked what was in that box Ambrosini slung so well, having received an explanation and said: "Pirandello, what he had asked that his ashes were scattered to the wind? It is not that fate has decided to please him today ... .. "Calo an eerie silence, while the passengers were looking at each other, and under the seats got up forefinger and little finger of one hand. Then, as the propellers began to turn, one of them asked to get off. Ambrosini spoke with the pilots, they suspended the procedure and the passenger fell off. Needless to say, one after the other followed him also the other nine. At this point, the pilots are suspicious and asked the teacher explanations. These gave her, repeating several times the word superstitions, that the two drivers repeated as an echo, exchanging knowing looks. So it was that the two suspected ancestors were from Sicily, or Naples, claiming various reasons, refused to leave.

To Prof. Ambrosini, accompanied by his inseparable case, we have to get on a train was waiting for a full day of travel. Everything would have gone smoothly if awakened from a nap, he had not noticed that the cash was gone. The car tried to train and finally found it in the middle of four individuals who had used as a table to play cards. Unaware, of course, to make a game "with the dead", and dead: a Nobel Prize. Comunqe both recovered. Finally arrived in Agrigento, the Odyssey of the case was not over yet. The bishop of the city Giovan Battista Peruzzo refused to give his blessing to a greek vase. No blessing, no solemn funeral: all the propaganda and political organization set up by DC Mayor went up in smoke. At the last moment, when the waiver of the funeral seemed inevitable, the bishop was persuaded to promise the blessing if the box with the ashes had been housed in a coffin Christian. But Cassamortaro of Agrigento had coffins ready, we had to settle for a small white coffin, of those children. But the case did not fit there. Then it was necessary to extract the jar and secure it to fit inside the small coffin. And so it was that finally Luigi Pirandello had his second funeral. In full regalia, as he never wanted.

THIRD THE FUNERAL. The vessel greek and his ashes were kept in the birthplace of Pirandello, waiting for the planned memorial dedicated to him was made in the locality Chaos, just below the famous pine tree to which the playwright was so fond But you know how things go in Italy, the work was finished only fifteen years later, in 1962. And so it was that the ashes of Pirandello had their final arrangement, and their third funeral. These civil and religious authorities, and cultural figures such as Salvatore Quasimodo, Leonardo Sciascia, an aluminum cylinder which had been emptied the ashes was first blessed and then walled up inside the monument.

EPILOGUE. But there's more. It is said that the charge of the transfer, an employee of the town known as Dr. Zirretta, had to sweat seven shirts to complete the operation. After so many years, twenty-six to be exact, the ashes were calcified within the vessel. Armed with chisel Zirretta, helped by a couple of assistants, reduced them again and poured the powder in the metal container. But the container was too small. It advanced a fair amount. What to do? He must have a light bulb turned on in the mind of the employee of the town of Agrigento. A light bulb, brilliant. He took the ashes left, poured in a newspaper and headed for a cliff nearby, overlooking the sea. But did not have time to get there: a gust of wind carried away the ashes. And so it was that the last will of Pirandello - my body just burned, were both left-release (at least in part) compliance.

All's well that ends well, you say. But it is not over yet. Because in 1994 it was discovered that the famous greek vase of the fifth century, preserved in the Museum of Agrigento St. Nicholas, still contained some 'ash of Pirandello. Evidently Dr. Zirretta chisel had not worked through. It was decided to refer the remains of the remains of Don Luigi examination of DNA. And, surprise, it was discovered that only a small portion of those ashes belonged to the Master. The remaining, most of that is, to other bodies, non-identifiable, which evidently had been cremated with him in 1936
Comforted by the science we can now say, Pirandello, who are and are not those ashes of Pirandello. And that metal buried in the urn of Chaos, along with Pirandello there are many other unknown people, the nobodies. As one said, no one hundred thousand.

Which Google Translate might better have translated
Uno, nessuno e centomila
, the title of perhaps the master's greatest novel. But why quibble after such a marvelous story?

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