home CITY BEAT, NEWS Nicola Coccia Wins Carlo Levi Prize

Nicola Coccia Wins Carlo Levi Prize

The book on Carlo Levi written by Florentine journalist Nicola Coccia won the Carlo Levi award. The award ceremony took place in Aliano, where Levi was confined by the Fascist government and where is buried, on Oct. 29. The title of the book, L’arse Argille Consolerai, refers to poetry written by Levi in his exile period dedicated to the woman he loved, Carla Olivetti.
Published by ETS Edizioni and divided in three parts, the book L’arse Argille Consolerai. Carlo Levi, dal Confino alla Liberazione di Firenze attraverso Testimonianze, Foto e Documenti Inediti, which was also presented before the Italian Senate, is based on previously unpublished witnesses, photos and documents that Coccia meticulously researched and that bring new evidence on the facts that marked the human, artistic and intellectual path of Carlo Levi.
The first part explores the exile period: the ten months when Levi was confined to Aliano and the period that he spent in France with Paola Olivetti, who with was sharing his life and the fight against fascism. Coccia describes the life of Levi with the peasants of the small, isolated village between art (Levi was also a painter), social activities, misery and Malaria.
In the second part of the book, the longest, Coccia reconstructs the Florentine months of Levi, from the German occupation to the liberation of the city. Written almost a as novel, the 25 central chapters have as their protagonists important and common people alike, intellectuals and artists as well as anonymous figures, joint together by the common cause of the antifascist war. Among all these characters, the most striking is that of Anna Maria Ichino, the woman who offered her apartment in Piazza Pitti as a refugee to Levi where, accompanied by the noise of the bullets of the civil war flying in the streets, between the end of 1943 and the summer of 1944 he wrote his masterpiece. Anna Maria Ichino is also the woman who offered to type the manuscript that her lover had written with a pencil, thus transforming it into a book that, among its other merits, had that of raising attention to one of the histor- ical problems of Italy, destined to re-emerge dramatically in the immediate post-war years: the Italian southern question. In the pages of Levi, Aliano becomes the metaphor of all those places in the world that are still waiting for a moral, social and economic redemption. It does so also in those of Coccia: in fact, “still today it is not easy to reach Aliano.”

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