Sándor Márai, Il sangue di San Gennaro
[The Blood of Saint Januarius], Adelphi
By the author Sándor Márai, I had only read the beautiful Embers, while I had been looking for years for his out of print book on Saint Januarius. On May 6, the day the liquefaction of Saint Januarius blood, I found it by pure chance, which brought me much joy. An exile from Hungary before leaving for the United States, this is the Neapolitan novel by Márai, who lived in the city from ‘48 to ‘52. There is a significant division between the first and second parts. In the first, the author describes the almost Edwardian characters, who live in primordial misery, but who with dignity ask for nothing and prefers to give, perennially waiting for something to change but which does not happen, except for the liquefaction of the blood of Saint Januarius three times a year. In the second part, he narrates the death of a foreigner, relying on long beautiful monologues, but which break the enchantment of the narration, to reflect on the condition of the uprooted exile. The figures of Giuseppe Moscati, on his way to sainthood, and the philosopher Benedetto Croce, considered a secular saint, who were famous in the city at the time, emerge in comparison. It is hard to forget the perfumes, flowers and trees of Posillipo, where the novel is set, but also the sky, the sun, and the sea, steeped in millenary history. And above all, the maddening wind, which causes tragedy, stopped by the ancient words of a fisherman, perhaps the same words my fisherman grandfather used to stop the waterspouts.