With the newspaper the volume “I conti con myself”, which contains the most intimate reflections of the great journalist, who died twenty years ago, on 22 July 2001
“After all, how boring it is to have to pretend evil because goodness is fashionable!” Bittersweet reflection by Indro Montanelli, born in Fucecchio, who died in Milan on 22 July 2001. Twenty years ago, and it seems like a few months: because still, as during most of his life, Italians try to deal with their most great journalist.
He did it with them. By dissecting them, going to rummage with his sting in the tricolor rhetoric: between us, truly capable of “solidarity” or only of “complicity”? Patriots, or scoundrels ready to always agree with the winner of the moment? And as an answer to them, or at least a part of them: and you? Have you been a real flogger or a contrary bastian in the perennial pursuit of fame?
He tried to do the accounts even with himself.I come to terms with myself it is in fact the title of the book on newsstands on 22 July with the «Corriere» – first edition printed by Rizzoli on the hundredth anniversary of his birth, 2009 – which collects some Diary di Montanelli compiled between 1957 and 1978. In pen, not with the legendary “Lettera 22”. Almost an encrypted signal: here is the most intimate Indro that everyone – starting from Indro himself – is looking for.
Usually the diaries, Sergio Romano recalls in the preface, “They are secret documents written to become public”. The 12 notebooks that contained these were handed over to the Manuscripts Fund of the University of Pavia by the same author. But Romano is right: this is really a different work from all the other Montanellians. And it speaks to both supporters and critics of the great contrary bastian.
Everyone, on both sides, seems to cultivate their own certainties. He, the man object of the dispute, no. There are almost shocking glimpses in the book in which the flogger whips himself. Just one example: «Rome. For two days here, in my old folks’ house. It’s always the same story. I come here to be safe from remorse the day I miss them. And I leave with even greater remorse for not having been able to hide my impatience. Despite my ninety years and complete deafness, I do not forgive my father his selfishness, his desperate attachment to life, his fear of everything, his avarice, his querulous victimhood. But above all, I don’t forgive him for being like him. From my mother I inherited only the terrible depressive crises that destroy me at regular intervals, but not the courage with which she faced them: the courage of someone who lives everything and only from the heart. I hated her, for this evil with which she contaminated me. Once, in the height of desperation, I reproached him. That’s what I’ll remember when she’s dead. About this, and about another day when she said to me, but quietly, with no intention of hurting me: “Do you know that I am in awe of you?”. Many years have passed since then. Now she is eighty-three, soon she will close her eyes, and only in that moment will I find the voice to tell her that it is not true, I could not intimidate her, I did not want to do it to her, it was absurd and monstrous that I did it to her … Why don’t I tell her now , who can hear me? Because? Because?”.
Romano provided a historical framework for the eras and characters told, from the various government crises to the Moro crime, sometimes distant facts for today’s readers. In the diaries, sketches, portraits, epigrams, small stories swarm. And about a hundred characters from Montale to Prezzolini, from Kissinger to Josephine Baker. But they go in and out, the time to be photographed against the light. Even though he often mentions the events he went through – notes Romano – in his diary “he spoke first of all about himself … nothing can interest him as much as his own character”.
He was a born protagonist, of course. But this is also what happens to many bipolar depressants, which he was from childhood. «Every now and then I am seized by fits of humility, I tell myself that I am only a skilled inlayer of sentences and that, rather than to convince the reader, I aim to strike him with sometimes unlawful means; I’m more bold than brave. Etc. But then, in the end, invariably, I conclude that only those who have a lot of it doubt their talent. And so to the many virtues that in moments of pride I attributed to myself I end up adding, for humility, modesty ».
“Skewered”, so Romano defines some of the portrayed characters in the diaries, all together a sort of great entomologist panoply in which to choose ideas for future articles or titles. “Flaiano believes with such candor in his own cynicism that I can’t find enough to tell him I don’t believe it” (maybe Flaiano can also stand for “Montanelli”?).
Anonymous dialogue in which Montanelli probably hides himself: «After all, be honest, you too would like the Glory ..» «Very much, madam, I’m very greedy of it. I don’t know what I’d give to get it. I’d be willing to sacrifice everything to her. Everything, except popularity ».
More on depression, on the «nights when I wake up with a start for the sudden awareness of sleeping clinging to a monster ». In 1966, after “8 months of illness and exile” in Cortina d’Ampezzo, in Rome he went to visit another great journalist, Augusto Guerriero, who signed Ricciardetto: “He tells me that he discovered that, as a psychopath, I have previous illustrious: Gogol and Lucretius, who, like me, suffered from cyclical depressive crises. And he doesn’t believe me when I tell him that, however honored by such a kinship, I would trade it with my eyes closed for that of the butcher opposite. But now I am resigned to misunderstanding. After all, why should others understand me, if I myself, when I come out of these horrible crises, no longer remember what terrors and obsessions they were made of? And how can I explain that I did not want children for fear of passing on this flaw to them; and that of what was born to me in treason and behind my back, I never wanted to know anything just to avoid the remorse of having given birth to an unfortunate person? ».
«My whole life – he writes – has been disputed between the boredom of living together and the fear of living alone ».
November 1969, in the fire of the protest the “great capons”, as he calls the Italian bourgeoisie, they look to him as the editor of a new newspaper, since they judge the Corriere too far to the left: perhaps “I will have no other choice. I am sixty years old. I have to think about ending my life and career in some way. A good battle in defense of freedom would be a fiery sunset, the one most in character with my character, that is, with the character that people give me ».
“My character … that is, the character that people give me”. There is an implied question mark here. Leaning over his diary, using his pen, Indro asks himself a distressing question. He comes to terms with himself. He has the courage to do it.
The four sections. Indro’s notebooks, twenty years after his death
A reserved, introspective Indro Montanelli. It comes out on July 22 at newsstands with the «Corriere della Sera», at the price of e 8.90 plus the cost of the newspaper, the volume I come to terms with myself. Diaries 1957-1978, which collects, edited by Sergio Romano, the contents of twelve notebooks that Montanelli delivered to the Manuscripts Fund of the University of Pavia. The book, published in collaboration with the Rizzoli publisher, comes out on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the death of the great journalist, who died on July 22, 2001, and remains on newsstands for a month. Montanelli’s diaries were drawn up by the author only in certain periods of his life. The first part runs from September 1957 to January of the following year. It opens with the death of Leo Longanesi to whom Indro was very attached, despite some disagreements, and continues above all with aphorisms, often ferocious. The second part of the diaries covers a short phase, from September to December 1966, which however coincides with the disastrous flood of Florence. The third section runs from 1969 to 1972. It therefore includes a series of tragic events. And it ends immediately after the change of director of the Corriere, from Giovanni Spadolini to Piero Ottone, which will lead to the break between Montanelli and the newspaper in via Solferino. I Diary end by covering the period from May 1977 to May 1978: a terrible year, in which Montanelli himself, now editor of the «Giornale», was hit by the terrorists of the Red Brigades, who then kidnap and kill the leader of the Christian Democrats Aldo Moro.
July 21, 2021 (change July 21, 2021 | 22:05)