A mathematical genius,
a family and Naples

 Un genio matematico,  una famiglia e Napoli  DCM-009
01 October 2022

The latest book by journalist, successful broadcaster and writer, Lorenza Foschini, titled L'attrito della vita - Indagine su Renato Caccioppoli matematico napoletano [The Friction of Life - Investigation of Neapolitan mathematician Renato Caccioppoli], La nave di Teseo editions is also a family story. The family is her own. Neapolitan, wide-ranging, with intertwined branches that include the mathematical genius, who is considered to be the grandson of Michail Bakunin, the famous Russian anarchist, philosopher and revolutionary.

Foschini tells me, “I felt the need to tell the story. It was not easy. Everything and nothing is known about Caccioppoli. In addition, it is difficult to reconstruct his life by separating the real facts from the many legends that have arisen around him. Renato was not a misanthrope, quite the contrary. He appeared affable, sociable, and even worldly. He was a great talker and the author of biting and scathing jokes. However, when he was going through acute crises bordering on despair, he would take refuge in alcohol, and no one has ever really managed to penetrate his inner world. The unfathomable universe of his genius will forever remain a mystery”.

A book about a scientist with a prodigious mind who died by suicide, about a family and a city. This is Naples, recounted without any surrendering to stereotyped images. A documented investigation, pervaded with tenderness, with a text that flows thanks to streamlined and elegant writing, about a man who was persecuted by the fascist regime, and afflicted by what writer and friend Paola Masino would call “the friction of life”, hence the title.