The tragic news from Ukraine sparked two memories. To bring them down from the attic of memory came the catalog of a beautiful exhibition of portraits by Carlo Levi promoted by the Giorgio Amendola Foundation in Turin, where Leone Ginzburg “with red hands” occupies a prominent space: “When I painted them, they were only the memory of the Russian ghettos, the last sign of a previous life, over the generations “. In the exhibition catalog (published by Rinnovamento, curated by Cesare Pianciola and Pino Mantovani), Filippo Benfante skillfully embroiders the reason for those red hands in portraying the Jew from Odessa. The images from Kyiv and Kharkiv pass on television, and with the eyes of Carlo Levi one can glimpse the infinite pain of thousand and thousand red hands.
These days came back to my mind a Ukrainian scholar of Svevo, Mariana Prokopovych, whom I met in Trieste in 2009. The network of Italian Cultural Institutes was then promoting the spread of the book Zeno’s Conscience in the countries of the former Warsaw Pact that had not had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of Zeno Cosini yet. I had to take care of the Ukrainian edition: the translation of the novel and my introduction were carried out by Mariana for the Library of Italian Literature and the Institute of Literature Institute “T. S. Ševčenko”.
I put it back on my desk while the images of buildings destroyed or mutilated by Russian bombing scroll by. Will there also be the headquarters of the Charkiv Folio which printed the volume in 2009? Where will Mariana be now?
That Russians and Ukrainians learn from the apocalyptic ending of Zeno’s Conscience seems to me pure utopia in these hours. More humbly, I would like this column to cross borders and be read by Mariana. I would like to bring practical help to her and her family.