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“The Best life”. Italian Literature in the 20th Century

Updated on December 15, 2014

Tomizza's Works

Tomizza’s first work, “Materada”, published in 1960, tells the story of the division of a large farm among three nephews, but the plot also focuses on some important historical events relating to the great exodus of the Italian-speaking population towards Yugoslavia. The most interesting part of the work is the passionate representation of Istria, a rocky and dusty country, poor in water, but rich in ancient traditions and inhabited by people accustomed for generations and generations to the hard life of the peasant, who also experience a rapid transition from one type of social organization to another (the Habsburg Empire's collapse, the Fascist experience, and the advent of Communism in that country). The protagonists of the novel live in a small village, and they speak both with simplicity of language and the rich variety of the Serbo-Croatian dialectal words, which reflects faithfully the protagonists’ bilingualism.

In his novel “The Girl of Petrovia” [“La ragazza di Petrovia”], published in 1963, F. Tomizza tells the events of a young man and his girlfriend, who arrive in the refugee camp called Zone B, near Trieste. The inability to solve their urgent job problems and the tragic end of the girl (killed by an Yugoslav sentry) are the narrative focus of the work , also characterized by more realistic elements.

The “The Acacia Wood” [“Il bosco di acacie”] (1966) is focused on the harsh reality of Istrian farmers that work in reclamation lands of Friuli. These rural countries were very different from their lands and the Istrian peasants suffer from homesickness. In other novels, such as “The Fifth Season” [“La quinta stagione”] (1965) and “The Tree of Dreams” [“L’albero dei sogni”] (1969), Stephen Morovich is both the main protagonist and the alter ego of F. Tomizza, who put himself at the core of events that took place between 1943 and the end of the World War II.

In the first novel Stephen tells himself during his childhood, and explores the reasons for his disagreements with his father. The second novel tells the Stephen’s intriguing spiritual and ideological “odyssey” that ends with the abandonment of Istria in favor of Trieste where Stephen knows Miriam with whom he links his destiny. The story of his love for a woman and the representation of Trieste also is the plot of “The Miriam’s city” [“La città di Miriam”] (1972) that concludes Stephen’s trilogy.

In 1977 Fulvio Tomizza wrote “The Best life” [“La miglior vita”] where Martin Krusic traces his life and spends much of his time studying the history of his land. “Friendship” [“L’amicizia”] (1980) tells the story of two young men, one of whom arrived in Trieste after he had experienced the failure of Communism in Yugoslavia. A second protagonist is a youth of provincial bourgeois origin. The novel focuses not only on the differences in character, but also on different emotional, political and moral education between the two youths. The first married a Jewish girl and inserted himself into the solid middle class thanks to the dynamism and his talent, in achieving happiness in his marriage, while the second, for excessive idealism, failed to establish a definitive relationship with his girlfriend of humble birth. The significant difference in marital outcomes marked the end of their friendship. Fulvio Tomizza died in Trieste in 1999.

Tomizza and Materada


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