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Reeds in the Wind

A book by Grazia Deledda

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A flavorful and evocative rendering of an old Italian past.

  • Nov 9, 2001
Rating:
+5
Reeds in the Wind is a resounding success, for it is a literary work of art that is suffused with Sardinian folk culture, unwavering faith in Catholicism and vivid lore of the "dark beings who populate the Sardinian night..." Grazia Deledda's novel, set in the harsh, homely, bromidic Sardinian Galte (actually Galtelli) of Baronia, describes the arid, solitary landscape, where the sun continuously emits a slanting, hot coppery ray of light upon the reddened earth, and the melancholy panorama is adorned only by dilapidated huts and a cemetery abounding with dust and bones; hence, the attention of the reader is immediately focused not on the torpidity of the environment, but rather, on the inhabitants of it: Effix, Giacinto, Grixenda, Don Predu, Pottoi, Zuannantoni, Milese, Kallina and the three spinster sisters: Ruth, Ester and Noemi Pintor. The electric liveliness, the pulse, that normally spreads up and out in cosmopolitan cities is quite palpable. The lust and vibrancy of municipal life can be oozed out at the ends of a clenched fist, for the urbanity is the life blood that keeps people sane, but that is not the case in this territory, because it is the antipode of urbane. It is a vacuous hole that takes more than it gives, and tradition is the cudgel that keeps the residents at bay, preventing most of them from ever leaving and striving for growth, love and happiness. It is a land where the dead are not simply dominant, they are the rulers: P.3: "Effix could hear the sound that the panas-women who died in childbirth-made while washing their clothes down by the river, beating them with a dead man's shin bone, and he believed he saw the ammattadore (the elf with seven caps where he hid his treasure) jumping about under the almond woods, followed by vampires with steel tails. It was the elf that caused the branches and rocks to glitter under the moon. And along with the evil spirits were spirits of unbaptized babies-white spirits that flew through the air changing themselves into silvery clouds behind the moon. And dwarfs and janas-the little faries who stay in their small rock houses during the day weaving gold cloth on their golden looms-where dancing in the large phillyrea bushes, while giants looked out from the rocks on the moonstruck mountains, holding the bridles of enormous horses that only they can mount, squinting to see if down there within the expanse of evil euphorbia a dragon was lurking. Or if the legendary cananea, living from the time of Christ, was slithering around on the sandy marshland." A fourth Pintor sister-Donna Lia-does escape the drudgery of mediocrity, marrying and having a child later named Giacinto who later visits his aunts. But to them, that is anything but pleasing: P.19: "...it seems like you aren't happy about Don Giacinto." "Do I have to sing? He's not the Messiah!" That unpleasant tone swims across the bulk of the novel; it is a tone of harsh indifference. Donna Lia committed the ultimate sin by leaving the Pintor House; thus, her whole being becomes a sin and so too does her offspring, despite Giacinto's later desires to rectify past wrongs; he becomes an omen-bad luck. In life, in order for there to be a sense of unity and forgivness, somebody has to make the first move: P.79: "...If children can love one another, why must we old people hate each other? The remedy is in us." But that is easier said than done. Traditionalism is strongly adhered to, and if faith can not heal the wanton needs and frivolity of those who feel they must escape because of the throttling suffocation that they are enduring, then the battle of good and evil becomes bigger and bigger: P.154: "Yes, once there was a king who had his people worship trees and animals, and even fire. God was offended and made the king's servants turn so bad they plotted to kill their master. And so they did. Yes, he made them worship a golden God. That is why there is so much love for money in the world, and even relatives kill relatives for money." But Effix, who is the servant to the Pintor women, is not a servant in the traditional sense; he is a servant of God, a human angel who tries to heal old wounds, mistrust, suffering. His varied tasks in this novel are not easy ones, but he rises to the complexities of human nature and later ascends to the glory of God. The characters in Reeds in the Wind truly embody human frailties and fatalism in, oddly, a lyrical but brusque manner. Suffering is human nature, and so, aren't we all Reeds in the Wind, pushed down by evil only to rise again?

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More Reeds in the Wind reviews
review by . May 11, 2013
A flavorful and evocative rendering of an old Italian past.
Reeds in the Wind is a resounding success, for it is a literary work of art that is suffused with Sardinian folk culture, unwavering faith in Catholicism and vivid lore of the "dark beings who populate the Sardinian night..." Grazia Deledda's novel, set in the harsh, homely, bromidic Sardinian Galte (actually Galtelli) of Baronia, describes the arid, solitary landscape, where the sun continuously emits a slanting, hot coppery ray of light upon the reddened earth, and the melancholy …
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Christian Engler ()
Ranked #690
Not much to say; my info section and likes pretty much says it all. Cheers.
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Published in Italy in 1913 but never before translated into English, this richly atmospheric novel by Deledda (1871-1936), the second woman to receive the Nobel Prize for literature (1926), is a tale of penitence, salvation and a Christian-peasant notion of destiny. Deledda (Cosima; After the Divorce) traces the decline of the noble Pintor sisters, who live in Sardinia at the turn of the century. Proud but poor, the three sisters, Ruth, Ester and Nomi, are reduced to selling their farm's produce clandestinely from their own house. They would be totally bereft without their wise servant Efix, who has continued to work for them without pay because he is guilt-ridden over a long-ago sin. Giacinto, the son of the fourth, dead, Pintor sister, turns up and brings with him old bitter memories. Eventually, he unwittingly causes his aunts to sink further into poverty. Even in this flat translation, Deledda beautifully captures the rough, malaria-ridden Sardinian setting, where superstition vies with theology, folklore has a strong hold on the imagination and "the sound of the accordion fills the courtyard with moans and shouts." The novel bears some resemblance to Tomasi di Lampedusa's The Leopard in its depiction of the decline of a noble class, and to Carlo Levi's Christ Stopped at Eboli in its portrait of 20th-century peasants who still harbor medieval beliefs in sprites and witches. In a conversation with one of the Pintor sisters, Efix muses, "We are reeds, and fate is the wind."...
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Details

ISBN-10: 0934977631
ISBN-13: 978-0934977630
Author: Grazia Deledda
Publisher: Italica Press

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