Novel set mainly on CRETE past and present
Novel set in 1950s POSITANO
11th May 2021
Meeting in Positano by Goliarda Sapienza, novel set in 1950s Positano. Translated by Brian Robert Moore.
Positano: “..not only an aerie-like plaything at night and a sacred Mediterranean altar in the morning, but a true crossroads of international customs, languages and races..”
My first thought on picking up this short novel was to note the wonderfully evocative name of the author. It could only be a name that conjures up the glamour of the era – mid 20th Century – along with such iconic names as Gina Lollobrigida, Silvana Mangano and Anna Magnani. And, part of the ‘in’ crowd of course is the famous outstanding male film director Luchino Visconti.
Set against the backdrop of the film world, this is the story of a friendship between the protagonist – and Goliarda uses her own name – and “Princess” Erica Beneventano. They are two very different women and the way Princess is described I can only visualise a curvy and graceful woman (I am thinking Grace Kelly), skittering up and down the many steps of the town, bathed in a fragrance of the era (perhaps Arpège by Lanvin), tulle and chiffon fluttering in her wake. Such filmic descriptions!
Looking through a psychological lens one my might conjecture that Princess has qualities that reminded the author of her mother and thus an attraction is natural, as the author’s mother passed away (in the novel) several years prior. Princess, too had suffered her own losses. There is a delight that is palpable each time Goliarda meets up with the Princess, with, at times, a sexual overtone, as she bathes in her proximity’ at other times she seems reverential, carefree and expressive. Such different women, from different backgrounds, forging a bond that was to endure..
There is a full cast of cinematic figures, all part of a creative community. There are the local people who weave their magic on the visitors and reader alike, who all add colour and atmosphere to this beautifully rendered part of the world. You can feel the dry stone walls and vegetation blossoming in the spring, the sun pummelling the characters and the rain cascading.
The style is at times quite intense, so I think as a reader one needs to be in the right mood to read this.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
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