Eleven months into proceedings sciascia wrote an

This preview shows page 305 - 307 out of 371 pages.

Eleven months into proceedings, Sciascia wrote an article in the Corriere dellaSerathat would fatally undermine his reputation as an opponent of the mafia. Thearticle took its cue from two recent events: the publication of a book about the ironprefect’s crusade against organized crime during the Fascist years; and PaoloBorsellino’s promotion. (Borsellino had just been put in charge of the office ofinvestigation in Marsala on Sicily’s westernmost tip where the Corleonesi had closeallies.) Sciascia argued passionately that the maxi-trial threatened to trample on civilliberties in the same way that Fascism had done. He fulminated against a climate—we would now call it ‘politically correct’—in which any criticism of the antimafiamagistrates was treated as if it were a sign of complicity with the bosses. Heconcluded his polemic by accusing Borsellino of careerism: ‘There is nothing betterfor getting ahead in the magistracy than taking part in mafia trials.’Sciascia’s outburst caused profound shock in Italy where the public tends tolook to writers and intellectuals for the kind of moral leadership that politicians toooften fail to provide. It was a role that Sciascia took very seriously; in his own wayhe viewed himself as a voice of reason in terra infidelium,as solitary and rational asthe detectives in his novels who tried and failed to breach the wall of omertà.All themore reason for Borsellino to be deeply hurt by the Corriere della Seraarticle; hesaid that Sciascia had been an intellectual father figure for him. Some of the mafia’spoliticians subsequently took a sneering delight in quoting the novelist against themagistrates he had inspired.By the time he penned his attack on the antimafia magistrates, the author ofThe Day of the Owlwas terminally ill. For many solitary years he had devoted all thesubtleties of his art to understanding the mafia’s thought-patterns, and he resentedthe antimafia sloganeering that now abounded. But Sciascia’s polemic was morethan the outburst of a balky, moribund old man. It was the voice of the distrust thatgenerations of Sicilians seemed to feel towards both the mafia and the Italian state.Sciascia was the self-taught son of a man who worked in the sulphur mines ofAgrigento province. He had witnessed as a boy the hypocritical brutalities of theFascist regime, and he had seen the mafia kill union leaders in the sulphur minesafter the war. For him the mafia was an informal branch of the Italian police; boththe state and the mafia had the same repressive reflexes. The lesson of both his lifeand Sicily’s history was that the island could expect nothing but trouble from theauthorities. Sciascia’s pessimism about the Italian state was matched by his fatalism
Terra Infidelium305about Sicily. He had long believed that the mafia at its root was not a self-consciousorganization but a mental condition that made a prison house for even the mostrational of Sicilian minds:

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture