The Catholic School by Edoardo Albinati

The Catholic School by Edoardo Albinati

Italian fiction

Otiginal title –  La scuola cattolica

Translator Antony Shugaar

Source – personal copy

I brought this when it came pout and was just daunted by its size and had read about 200 pages and then put it too one side which is a shame so when on Christmas eve I was looking for a book to read I decide to pick an epic and this was the book I decided to read and I am pleased I did. Edoardo Albinati started as a translator of books from English he has translated works by Nabahkov and Robert Louis Stevenson. He has written a ni=umber of novels but this is his best known it won the Strega Prize the Italian equivalent of the booker prize. The idea for the novel is that he went to the same school as the men that were involved in the rape and murder that became known as the Circeo Massacre. He also has taught in the prison where the same men were sent after they were convicted.

I never masturbated until I was old enough to be drafted and serve in the Italian army. Probably no one will believe it, but it is truth. I mean to say, it’s not as if I had never tried. I gave it a go many times, starting when i was just a kid. I  knew that my contemporaries were doing it, and I couldn’t stand the the idea that I was somehow different from them, But by the end of half an hour of autostimulation, woth my sex erect and flame red from rubbing, nothing happened. The application of mechanical movement hadn’t produced any effect, and I was just worn out and disappointed. It all struck me as strangfe and I was afraid I hadn’t really understood what I was supposerd to do, what t could try tthat might be better, might be different. I continued to have wet dreams or pollutions, as the terminology went, as I slept in the night, but if I tried to repriduce the phenonenon in a waking state, i could never bring matters to a fitting conclusion. Not once

Early one his own admison about his younger years and sex !!

This isn’t a straightforward novel I mean it is third in before the case and deaths are mention they elude too what the book is a dissection of the years that in Italy are called Anni di piombo in the seventies when Italy was in political chaos and violence ran free. The connection he has with the case is that one of the men that raped and murder one girl and left another for dead in a seaside town in the September of 1975 had been in the same year as Edoardo himself so this is him looking at the School upper-class catholic boys school a sort of Italian Eton but with added religion, San Leone Magno the school in question occupies a lot of the book he remembers the priest how they talked to the boys in a way he is looking why the boy’s men did what they did and he went another oath in life they were Neo-Fascist this is something he saw a lot in the bourgeois boys of his generation he describes arguing wh=ith his father he was of the left from a young age. Elsewhere he questions how they were taught to view women which were as sex objects this is held up when he sees one of his own priests a teacher hiring a prostitute whilst at school. A history of the school, Italy at the time, Catholic church the boys he knew the different paths they took everything is questioned why they did this maybe this is more an investigation and at its heart is the age-old question of nature versus nurture here and it comes out on what they were taught but also the atmosphere within an all-boys school the lack of having a female he even says those with sisters at home were better placed in the long run as they knew about women more than those that hadn’t. This isn’t a novel it is the quest for answers really and over 1200 pages you feel he has none but you can see why what happened with the killing was an accident waiting to happen to certain of his schoolmates.

The event that gave rise to this book is the so-called Circeo Rape/murder, spetember 29 1975: here in after the CR/M

What can rbe rightly asked about the case of the CR/M is whether the murder was a continuation of the sexual violence , one further step, more or less planned out on a contiunuum withthe abuse and toture and rape, or whether instead the rape was nothing more or less than a prelude to the murde, a prepartory phase. Beofre killing the girls, they wanted to have some fun with them. Or else: Having decided  to kill them.

He explains the orgin of the book in the case and we learn that he was in the same year as one of the men.

I loved this I love books that drift from here to there and books that haven’t story this is mostly told in the first person it is one man doing an autopsy on his life but also one of those three men that committed the crime. like Gunter von Hagens he takes apart the body of his life bit by bit and the society he grew up in. All in a quest to answer the simple question of why the rape of two girls and murder of one of them by these privileged three young men shock Italy to its core. It is hard not to see the influence of Knausgaard MY struggle came out a good 6 years before this book. But then there is also the same questioning mind that we see in Leopardi Zibaldone which questions things and also has a lot of Aphorisms Albinati has written forwards for books by Leopardi so for me there is a small element in the way he questions the events and life or SLM and his growing up, the church, being a male in Italy the male Italian view of women at the time. He drifts but it is highly readable almost like a documentary series in a novel form. Have you read this book or heard of the crimes involved?

January 2021
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