twelve o’clock, April 5, 2021 – 8:07 pm

A memory and an analysis of the “method” of the intellectual from Taranto, who died in 2017 at the age of 40, while Feltrinelli sends back to the bookstore “Le male vite”, his investigation into smuggling and the Apulian mafia

of Leonardo Palmisano



The first thing I think when I remember Alessandro Leogrande is his intellectual honesty. He was a thinker without malice, witty, profound, precise to the point of exhaustion but never twisted. Many have called him a precursor. I believe, since there isn’t a trail of Italian thinkers to take it as a reference (there isn’t one school Leogrande), who unrepeatable he is to the Mediterranean reportage as Kapuscinski is to the African one. Since his first works, Alessandro has taken off from the rest of us. If you like, it betrayed the hyper-realistic trend that was establishing itself with narratives as synthetic as they were pregnant with blood, crime, truculent episodes. This totally involuntary betrayal of publishing fashion is the key to his reflection on reality and his objective superiority.

Away from the kitsch of pain

He was a fundamental scholar of the Mediterranean peoples without ever falling into the kitsch of pain. He has managed to give a voice to a multitude of human beings with a grace, a discretion and a meticulousness beyond the reach of any other reporter of our generation. Alexander was a skilled builder of connections between socially distant populations. He was able to make the relatives of the victims of an Albanian shipwreck talk to identify, against the light, the moral instigators of those drownings. If he had wanted to follow the trends and the publishing market, he would have had to give up most of his method. Animated by a deep love for the vital value of suffering and by a consolidated familiarity with humanistic knowledge, Alessandro Leogrande has produced a method and imposed it on us, validating and strengthening it with a very lucid writing and with the exercise of doubt. I had the opportunity to listen to some clips of interviews that Alessandro collected from dozens of migrants, desperate people, those in pain. The apparent detachment of the reporter that transpires from the tone of his voice was a mask behind which he held feelings of shame, of pain, of severe judgment towards our world: that of the corporals, the criminals, the corrupt, the rich.

A Mediterranean anthropology

Having generated a composite and interdisciplinary method, his inquiries were of incomparable scrupulousness. It was known, opening a book of Alexander, to be in front of a very humble first of the class, a Descartes or a Camus. Literary and journalistic sources, never casual; the metaphors, harsh but lyrical; the questions, never superfluous; the arguments, always punctual; the testimonies, complete and total; the writing, adhering to the truth; doubts, human and scientifically based. And in the debates in which he happened to meet, Alessandro was pertinent, capable of embracing the most diverse points of view without ever betraying the values ​​that inspired his choices. The space of his work was all earthly, but the dimension of his investigation touched upon spiritual themes, trying to construct a kind of new anthropology of the Mediterranean. He did not limit himself to narrating the results of the human pilgrimage, but he grasped the symbolic thrust, the ideal reason, the sentimental engine. On the story of the migrants he produced something that Antonio Gramsci and Roland Barthes would have liked, that would not have liked the twentieth century dictators.

His “real humanism”

Like Leopardi, Leogrande embodied the synthesis between the inner drive for discovery and the objective return to reflection. How Vittorini moved between travel story and practical philosophy. He grasped the fundamental elements of the history of our time and placed them there, succinctly, in his investigations. His books and his unpublished ones, if there are any, must be discovered as an unfortunately unfinished universe, but from which to draw the always valid law of real humanism by Alessandro Leogrande.

April 5, 2021 | 20:07

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