Antonio Tabucchi

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Antonio Tabucchi
Antonio Tabucchi.jpg
Born (1943-09-24)September 24, 1943
Pisa, Italy
Died March 25, 2012(2012-03-25) (aged 68)[1]
Lisbon, Portugal
Occupation Novelist, short-story writer
Nationality Italian, Portuguese
Period 1975–2012
Spouse María José de Lancastre

Antonio Tabucchi (Italian: [anˈtɔnjo taˈbukki]; September 24, 1943 – March 25, 2012) was an Italian writer and academic who taught Portuguese language and literature at the University of Siena, Italy.

Deeply in love with Portugal, he was an expert, critic and translator of the works of Fernando Pessoa from whom he drew the conceptions of saudade, of fiction and of the heteronyms. Tabucchi was first introduced to Pessoa's works in the 1960s when attending the Sorbonne. He was so charmed that, back in Italy, he attended a course of Portuguese language for a better comprehension of the poet.

His books and essays have been translated in 18 countries, including Japan. Together with his wife, María José de Lancastre, he translated many works by Pessoa into Italian and has written a book of essays and a comedy about the writer.

Tabucchi was awarded the French prize "Médicis étranger" for Indian Nocturne (Notturno indiano) and the premio Campiello, and the Aristeion Prize for Sostiene Pereira. In later life he was mentioned as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature, a feat he never achieved.[2]

Early life[edit]

Antonio Tabucchi was born in Pisa but grew up at his maternal grandparents' home in Vecchiano, a nearby village.

During his years at university, he travelled widely around Europe on the trail of the authors he had encountered in his uncle's library. During one of these journeys, he found the poem "Tabacaria" (tobacco shop) in a bookstall near the Gare de Lyon in Paris, signed by Alvaro de Campos, one of the heteronyms (a kind of poetical personality) of the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. It was in the French translation by Pierre Hourcade. From the pages of this volume he extracted the intuition of his interest in his future life for at least twenty years.

A visit to Lisbon sparked his love of the city of the fado and of that country as a whole. As a result, he graduated in 1969 with a thesis on "Surrealism in Portugal". He specialized at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa in the seventies and in 1973 he was appointed as teacher of Portuguese Language and Literature in Bologna.

That year he wrote his first novel, Piazza d'Italia (Bompiani 1975), in which he tried to describe history from the losers' point of view, in this case the Tuscan anarchists, in the tradition of great Italian writers of a more or less recent past, such as Giovanni Verga, Federico De Roberto, Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa, Beppe Fenoglio, and contemporary authors, like Vincenzo Consolo.

Career[edit]

In 1978, he was appointed to the University of Genoa, and published Il piccolo naviglio, followed by Il gioco del rovescio e altri racconti in 1981, and Donna di porto Pim (1983). His first important novel, Indian Nocturne, was published in 1984, and became the basis of a 1989 a film directed by Alain Corneau. The protagonist tries to trace a friend who has disappeared in India but is actually searching for his own identity.

He published Piccoli equivoci senza importanza in 1985 and, the next year, Il filo dell'orizzonte. This novel features another protagonist (Spino) on a quest to discover something (here, the identity of a corpse) but who is also looking for his own identity—which was to become a common mission for Tabucchi protagonists. Whether these characters succeed in the attempt is uncertain, but they are compelled to face their image as mirrored by others. A film was drawn from this book, too, in 1993 directed by the Portuguese Fernando Lopes.

In 1987, when I volatili del Beato Angelico and Pessoana Minima were published, he received France's Prix Médicis for best foreign novel (Notturno indiano). The next year he wrote the comedy I dialoghi mancati. The President of Portugal appointed him the title Do Infante Dom Henrique in 1989, and that same year the French government named him a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.

Tabucchi published Un baule pieno di gente. Scritti su Fernando Pessoa (Feltrinelli) in 1990, and the next year, L'angelo nero (1991). In 1991 he wrote in Portuguese Requiem: A Hallucination, a novel later translated into Italian (winner of Premio P.E.N. Club italiano) and he published Sogni di sogni.

In 1994 he released Gli ultimi tre giorni di Fernando Pessoa, as well as the novel that brought him the most recognition: Sostiene Pereira, winner of the Prizes Super Campiello, Scanno and Jean Monnet for European Literature. The protagonist of this novel becomes the symbol of the defence of freedom for information for the political opponents of all anti-democratic regimes. In Italy, during the election campaign, the opposition against the controversial communication magnate Silvio Berlusconi aggregated around this book. The director Roberto Faenza drew from it the eponymous film (1995) in which he cast Marcello Mastroianni as Pereira and Daniel Auteuil as Dr. Cardoso.

In 1997 Tabucchi wrote the novel The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro (La testa perduta di Damasceno Monteiro) based on the true story of a man whose headless corpse was found in a park. It was discovered that the man had been murdered in a police station of the Republican National Guard (GNR). The news story struck the writer's sensitiveness and imagination. The event's setting in Porto also gave the author the opportunity to show his love for the city. In order to finish this novel, Tabucchi worked on the documents gathered by the investigators at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg who enforce civil rights and the conditions of detention in Europe, including the relationship between citizens and police. The novel proved prophetic when police Sergeant José dos Santos later confessed the murder, was convicted and sentenced to 17 years' imprisonment.

Also in 1997, Tabucchi wrote Marconi, se ben mi ricordo, followed the next year by L'Automobile, la Nostalgie et l'Infini (1998). That year the Leibniz Academy awarded him the Prize Nossack.

He wrote Gli Zingari e il Rinascimento and Ena poukamiso gemato likedes (Una camicia piena di macchie. Conversazioni di A.T. con Anteos Chrysostomidis) in 1999.

In 2001 Tabucchi published the epistolary novel, Si sta facendo sempre più tardi. In it, 17 letters which celebrate the triumph of the word, which like "messages in the bottle", have no addressee, they are missives the author addressed to an "unknown poste restante". The book received the 2002 Prize France Culture (the French cultural radio) for foreign literature.

He used to spend six months of the year in Lisbon, with his wife, a native of the city, and their two children. The rest of the year he spent in Tuscany where he taught Portuguese literature at the University of Siena. In fact, Tabucchi considered himself a writer only in an ontological sense, because from the existential point of view he was glad to define himself as a "university professor". For Tabucchi, literature is not a profession, "but something that involves desires, dreams and imagination".[3]

Tabucchi regularly contributed articles to the cultural pages of the newspapers Corriere della Sera and El País. In 2004, he was awarded the Francisco de Cerecedo journalism prize, granted by the Association of European Journalists and bestowed by Spain's current heir to the throne, Felipe, Prince of Asturias, in recognition for the quality of his journalistic work and his outspoken defence of freedom of expression.

Honors[edit]

In 2007, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Liège. The Portuguese government named, Commandor of the Order of Prince Henry in 7 of Abril of 1989. In 1989, the French government named, Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.

Death[edit]

Tabucchi died in a hospital in Lisbon on March 25, 2012, after a long battle with cancer.[4] He was 68.

Works[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ AGI – Agenzia Giornalistica Italia. "Writer Antonio Tabucchi dies in Lisbon". AGI.it. Retrieved March 25, 2012. 
  2. ^ Flood, Alison (September 23, 2009). "Amos Oz is bookie's favourite for Nobel". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved September 23, 2009. Ladbrokes's top 10 is rounded out by Syrian poet Adonis at 8/1, with last year's favourite, the Italian scholar Claudio Magris, at 9/1 together with Italian novelist Antonio Tabucchi and Japanese author Haruki Murakami. 
  3. ^ Antonio Tabucchi, un dubitatore impegnato. Interview by Asbel Lopez.
  4. ^ [1], Obituary in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

External links[edit]