“Intermezzo romano” by Drieu La Rochelle is a jewel-book, edited and translated by the Lombard intellectual Marco Settimini. The Milanese scholar presents the three texts with a historical and literary study. The French intellectual writes with his imaginative literary force: “No matter how hard you try, the myths of industry and democracy cannot make an Italian city as ugly as a city in other countries. There is something that resists, a stone that is too beautiful and strong, an irreducible presence. So many palaces built with rock and genius cannot be wiped out in a junk that is, as they say, every recent human creation. And what does humanity that circulate among the stones matter. Italy, Greece and France no longer need Italians, Greeks and French to live; you live in heaven and in a few immortal ruins ”.
The work “Roman Intermezzo” best represents the vitalism of non-conformist publishing: Aspis, led by Camilla Scarpa, combines precious and rare writings with extraordinary care in the composition of the book, starting from the paper and the characters up to the cover ( a painting by Mauro Reggio entitled “The Roman gardens”). ***
By courtesy of the publisher we publish an excerpt (here the link to buy it directly from Aspis).
In the course of that story, I began to pay attention to that woman. Until then, her beauty had masked it from me. Of course, it was something I had already often experienced: beauty did not seem easily manageable except in whores, in which I was not afraid. In them beauty was like the quality of a common piece of trinkets and the contact of which gives you a warm pleasure, a familiar emotion. As soon as beauty appeared to me instead in a person whose upbringing could lead me to suppose that he was a soul, I was disturbed. That was what was happening to me with the countess: being able to hope that she was a soul, I was not afraid that she did not have one. I suspected he didn’t have one, yet he must have. And do not think that whores often have a depth, but the speed I was looking for in the relationships I had with them allowed me in most cases not to reach it. It had happened to me two or three times to let myself be caught for more than a single moment in the trap of such depth.
For some time I had abhorred intimate romanticism, so I didn’t want to exalt anything that I now suspected was good in her, but deep down I thought about the fact that she had suffered a little, but in the way that beings suffered. uncultivated who have no words to explain, revive and make their suffering precious. That woman of the world was as uneducated as sluts, only she was uneducated in several languages, that’s all. Sympathy came where pity and admiration, stupid to meet, did not know how to get together properly. I took her gently in my arms; as soon as he fell silent I remembered that I was sleepy. She, destroyed as usual, fell asleep suddenly.
In the rigorous simplicity, in the innocent cruelty with which he confessed, I saw the proofs of the only authentic modesty, the one who resists the life he undresses and strips. But modesty is the very heartbeat of the soul. Therefore he had a soul. It was precisely because she had a soul that, as usual, I was disoriented in front of her.
* Roman interlude by Drieu La Rochelle, Aspis, euro 22