After having it warm shelf space for some time I’m finally reading The Dark Heart of Italy, by Tobias Jones, and halfway through the section labelled The mother of all slaughters, which discusses political terrorism in Italy during the 60’s through early 80’s, I can’t help but think of another book – Tigana, by Canadian author of literary fantasy Guy Gavriel Kay.
Why? Because the strategies employed in Tigana by Alessan and Baerd in their attempt to liberate their country is exactly the same as used by the fascist movement during Italy’s anni di piombo – the years of lead – when so many people died in terrorist attacks aiming at destabilizing the state.
Or, at least that’s my interpretation. I’m sure Italians have another opinion on it, this in itself depending on political heritage.
Anyhow, it is striking how Kay manages to hide the fact that the protagonists of Tigana are engaged in systematic terrorism behind a veil of sympathy for the cause, for the underdog, for the repressed people. Interestingly enough the setting is very Italian, not only the general geography and culture but the political stage with city states and a very end-of-wwII set-up with two warring conquerors /the Allies with the Italian king on one side and the Germans with Il Duce on the other/.
To me, reading The Dark Heart of Italy is like being given the final pieces of the jigsaw, the key to understanding Tigana. If this is how Kay intended his piece of fiction to be read I have to wonder about his political leanings, about his objectives. But possibly he’s just another romantic academic, exploring histories to which he himself has no emotional connection – only curiosity.