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'Un bruttissimo affare': Francesco Guccini and Loriano Macchiavelli's Literary Inquiry into the Biennio 1943-1945.

In the historical detective novel Tango e gli altri. Romanzo di una raffica anzi tre (2008) Francesco Guccini and Loriano Macchiavelli set the stage for a literary inquiry into the mythologization of the struggle for liberation--also known as Resistenza--that took place in Italy during the 1943-1945 biennio. (1) The book opens in 1960 as Santovito, marshal of the carabinieri of Bologna, receives a letter that brings to light new evidence about an execution that occurred in 1944--an execution that Santovito had already investigated during his time as a partigiano (partisan) in the mountains overlooking the city. The letter proves that Bob, a partisan who was convicted by a tribunal of the Resistenza of massacring a family of fascists and subsequently sentenced to death, had been innocent all along. This revelation motivates maresciallo Santovito's sinuous, psychological journey through several distinct temporalities as he attempts to unmask the real killer. Santovito travels to the unnamed town in which he fought as a partisan and begins to question old comrades in order to bring justice to Bob, dredging up memories that many would prefer to leave dormant. Santovito is finally able to solve the mystery when Tango, the captain responsible for allowing the execution to take place, suddenly reappears after having lived in isolation since the end of World War II. Tango has known all along he had made a mistake in killing Bob, for he confirms Santovito's suspicions: it was Egidio Olmi, another partigiano now mayor of the town, who murdered that family of fascist sympathizers and later conveniently framed Bob for the crime.

In this essay I argue that Guccini and Macchiavelli, by having their multivalent maresciallo Santovito reopen a case that the partisans' judicial system had already solved, interrogate what Claudio Fogu refers to as the 'memorialization of the Resistance as a Second Risorgimento' (Fogu, 2006: 151), calling into question a popular narrative--mobilized by a coalition of the most disparate forces and underwritten by the idea of an intrinsic Italian goodness--that converts the Resistenza, a heterogeneous revolutionary and anti-fascist movement, into a symbol of nationalist propaganda. 'From the beginning,' as Fogu notes, 'the resistance was identified as an expression of the anti-Fascism of all Italians and, eviscerated of its social and insurrectional traits, was enshrined as the sign of an harmonious national identity' (Fogu, 2006: 151). At the same time, Guccini and Macchiavelli warn of what might happen when we start to disrupt precarious albeit foundational narratives of the nation state. Proving Bob's innocence also rehabilitates the memory of a partisan who has supposedly killed an entire family of fascist sympathizers, an outcome that favors those who advocate a revisionist history of the 1943-1945 biennio. The novel renders this problem visible by pointing to the growing presence in local politics of the neo-fascist MSI (Movimento Sociale Italiano). Thus it is no coincidence that Santovito, rather than Tango, who has known the truth all along, manages to destabilize romanticized ideas about the partisan struggle without falling into the revisionist trap. Because he is at once a earabiniere, a partigiano, and a meridionale, Santovito poses an ontological challenge to the mythology of the Resistance. He represents both institutional power and an insurgent tradition. While Santovito's simultaneous embodiment of multiple socio-political roles contrasts sharply with the monolithic Italian identity promoted by the myth of the Secondo Risorgimento, it is precisely this hybridity that enables him to understand that confronting the blemishes of the Resistance and exposing the truth behind Bob's wrongful execution preserves the integrity of the movement by restoring to collective memory the tangle of personal conflicts and interests that intersected with Italy's unprecedented civil strife. Like Santovito, the Resistance can neither be reduced to a single ideological orientation nor confined to the political sphere.

Between 1943 and 1945, Allied Forces bombed Italy incessantly in order to expurgate the Nazis, who, in their withdrawal, left a trail of destruction. Groups of partigiani, part of an antifascist guerrilla group known as Resistenza (Resistance), joined the Allied Forces to push the Nazis out and fight the Italians who were still loyal to Mussolini and who formed the Social Republic of Salo (RSI) in the North. It is only recently that the complexity of this two-year period, bookended by the signing of the armistice between the Allies and the Kingdom of Italy in 1943 and the official end of World War II in 1945, has been acknowledged, perhaps most notably through its redefinition by historian Claudio Pavone (1991) as the Italian civil war. The popular notion that Italian partisans were fighting the German invader elided the fact that Italy had been an ally of Germany until 1943, creating a bowdlerized history of the biennio of 1943-1945 that has become the official memory of World War II. Indeed, 'the special character of wartime experience in continental Europe, and the ways in which the memory of that experience was distorted, sublimated, and appropriated, bequeathed to the postwar era an identity that was fundamentally false' (Judt, 2000: 293). Historian Tony Judt identifies the widely accepted idea that the Germans were the principal bad actors as the main thread that runs through Europe's collective memory of World War II. In Italy, despite its allegiance to Germany, this assumption translated into a rhetoric of victimhood which used imagery and symbols from the Risorgimento--the nineteenth century struggle (1814-1871) to liberate Italy from the Austrian Empire and fashion a unified Italian nation-state--to inflame Italians' nationalist sentiments in the battle against the Nazi troops. The myth of the Secondo Risorgimento, which glorifies the Resistance while attenuating its revolutionary contours, undergirded the formation of the postwar Italian state and provided what Pavone calls the 'ideological cover of the united politics' (1991: 180). (2)

Disparate groups in the biennio 1943-1945 and in the years immediately following the end of the war abused the narrative of the Secondo Risorgimento and the essentialist understanding of Italian identity that came with it. First and foremost, the monarchy, which betrayed the Italians twice--first by allowing Mussolini to take power and then by letting the Nazis invade Rome--exploited the rhetoric of Italian victimhood to present itself to the Allies as their legitimate interlocutors. Second, Mussolini and the RSI, which essentially functioned as an extension of the Third Reich, detected in the myth of the Second Risorgimento promoted by the anti-fascist forces the possibility of their own survival. And they were not wrong, for they did indeed survive, in an important sense, on account of this: the Cassazione (the Italian Supreme Court), under the auspices of the amnesty law signed by Palmiro Togliatti in 1946, characterized the RSI as a 'necessary republic, led by only patriotic and protective instincts for its people' (Franzinelli, 2006: 142). (3) Third, the communist forces of Palmiro Togliatti sacrificed the revolution promised by the Resistenza for an anti-fascist nation, accepting the sanitized rendering of Italy's recent past lest harsh peace conditions foment a new wave of reactionary nationalism. Among the characters of Tango e gli altri, Tango, the captain of the brigade that executed Bob, represents those partisans who felt betrayed by Togliatti's collaborationist decision. Tango, who still holds on to the insurrectionist and revolutionary ideals of the Resistance, despite knowing who killed Bob, is not interested in exposing the murderer--only in killing him. Santovito stands in contrast to Tango because while both men want justice for Bob, only Santovito believes in the need to institutionalize this process, to expose the maliciousness of the man who framed Bob and whose crime undermines the myth of the Secondo Risorgimento.

The amnesty law, signed by Palmiro Togliatti on June 22 1946, inadvertently equated the violence carried out by fascists and partisans, overlooking the fact that the latter engaged primarily in acts of retaliatory violence. (4) The amnesty, a tool that 'express[es] the... attempt of a liberated society to purge the remnants of its vilified recent past' (Kritz, 1995: xiii), in the Italian case 'lays the foundation for a legitimization of neo-fascism in the new political order' (Rusconi, 1995: 170) and evacuates the partisans' actions of their Left-inflected political content by stigmatizing partisans as criminals. (5) On the one hand, then, the massacres of Italian civilians perpetrated by repubblichini and Germans in retaliation for the aid given (or presumed to be given) to local Resistance fighters further support the narrative of victimhood implied in the myth of the Secondo Risorgimento. (6) On the other hand, the partisans who responded to this violence by 'purging' fascist and Nazi sympathizers from their communities--as the case of the fascist family massacred in the novel supposedly illustrates--become mere perpetrators, and their actions, because too radical, are deemed criminal. (7) The myth of the Secondo Risorgimento annuls the subversive ideals of the Resistance by depicting not just partisans, but Italians overall, as martyrs who fought against the oppressors to save the nation. Ironically then, partisans are taken out of the narrative of liberation promoted by the Second Risorgimento, a removal made all the more conspicuous in the absence of partisans' associations in the official commemoration of Liberation Day on April 25, which in turn became 'an official occasion for celebrating the Italian armed forces' (Fogu, 2006: 152).

In the hagiography of the Resistance there was no room for morally ambiguous behavior such as acts of retaliatory violence or internecine feuds. Thus, it makes sense that those who took part in the Resistance had to stick to the ideas of comradery and martyrdom promoted by the myth of the Secondo Risorgimento, for any expressions of penitence or disagreement about the nature of the past would potentially discredit their tenuous coalition in the present and further incriminate them and the ideals for which they fought. That is why Giuseppe Zagatti, battle name Lepre, responds angrily to Santovito's question about who killed Bob by invoking the notion of collective guilt: 'We all shot. Everybody and nobody'. (8) The villagers' reticence to revisit Bob's execution extends to the Resistance altogether. When Santovito addresses those who took part in Bob's trial with their battle names--a common practice in those times, which protected the true identities of those who risked their lives in the struggle for freedom, and, ultimately safeguarded their families--they refuse to speak to him, replying that the people whose names he invokes are deceased. For example, Osvaldo Barsetti, battle name Remo, who fought with Bob's brigade and now owns a cafe downtown, keeps referring to Santovito in the courtesy form lei despite the marshal addressing him with his battle name in the informal tu. He even commands Santovito to stop calling him by his battle name: 'Leave Remo alone, maresciallo, because he is dead and buried' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 133). (9) But this reticence is not simply due to the uneasiness brought on by Santovito's questions about Bob's execution; it has to do with the ways in which partisans have been criminalized for those acts of retaliation, as Barsetti makes clear: 'Don't tell me that you are one of those who says that the partisans have killed without purpose' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 132). (10) The partisans in Tango e gli altri do not easily reveal any compromising details about Bob's execution because they do not want to further incriminate a movement that had already been misrepresented by the institutions of post-war Italy.

A certain 'ideological cover' also extends to the town itself, whose appearance contrasts starkly with Santovito's memory of it: 'Santovito remembers the ruins, the eviscerated houses, the bell tower of the church destroyed, the craters of the bullets that pitted the streets. He sighs, knowing all this is memory. Now the town is rebuilt, everything seems quiet, nothing reminds one of those days, even if only fifteen years have passed' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 79). (11) The concealment of the town's bloody history applies to Italy as a whole--a rebuilt nation that, in 1960, was on the verge of a glamorous economic boom, due in part to the substantial American aid received after the conflict. This aid forced Italy to align with the Western bloc, even if socialist ideas and sentiments were widespread among Italians. Moreover, the alignment of Italy with the Western bloc also undermined the traditions of the montanari. Bottegas or small shops like the one owned by a character named Frabbone are a refuge for those who don't like the jukebox of the cafe downtown, but will soon become extinct, swept away by the rising tide of American consumerism: 'Before Frabbone, his father kept the bottega and before him his father and who knows how many fathers for who knows for how many generations. After Frabbone, none will continue the craft: there is no need' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 68). (12) After WWII, Italy had to make a choice between going through new, deep political transformations in the interest of social democracy and cultural retention, or falling back on latent dreams of modernization amenable to the financial and political interests of the Allies.

This political tendency then explains the limitations imposed on the Resistance and its revolutionary ideals. The Resistance was strategically important for the Allies, for it often supplied them with precious intelligence about the Nazis' movements and plans. The Allies, however, did not trust the Resistance with military operations and therefore limited the number of weapons they gave to the brigades: it is possible that the revolutionary spirit of the Resistance, a characteristic that in its own mythicization gets lost, frightened the Anglo-American forces, which perhaps already anticipated the potential bipolarization of global powers following the resolution of World War II. As Focardi (2013) explains, the Allies, who planned on an implosion of fascism and Italy's subsequent abandonment of the war, also exploited the symbolic power of the Resistance more so than the discrete, revolutionary political credos it often projected. Nor is it surprising that the Red Brigades and their resistenti ad oltranza, in an effort to re-appropriate what was subversive about the Resistance, later invoked the trope of the missed revolution (Fogu, 2006: 156). But despite the fact that the inquiry into the past that Tango e gli altri stages takes the place of proper investigations into a crime committed by a partisan, Tango e gli altri is not a condemnation of the Resistance and, by implication, the resurrection of its radical character in the 1960s and 1970s--quite the contrary. Egidio Olmi, the real murderer, does not represent the Resistance but rather the natural tendency of individuals to use the unique circumstances of an interregnum--in this case the ongoing struggle to liberate Italy from the Nazis in the Apennines--to advance their private interests. Guccini and Macchiavelli invite us to take a peek under the 'ideological cover' of postwar Italy, where irregular circumstances made it so that the various political forces eager to govern Italy found in the mythology of the Secondo Risorgimento a convenient way to obviate a much more complex process of de-fascistization and coming to terms with the country's violent, morally ambiguous past. By staging a search for the real killer on several temporal levels, Tango e gli altri stands in for the judicial investigations that never took place at the end of World War II in Italy and hints at the looming presence of unresolved tensions within contemporary Italian society.

The temporal flexibility of the historical detective novel allows the authors to explore past tensions without ever losing sight of the double present--that of 1960, when the novel takes place, and that of 2008, when the novel first appeared in print. According to Maureen Reddy, facts and events--often but not always criminal--concealed at the beginning of the story are the central interest of the crime novel (1988: 153). Italian crime fiction, or giallo (yellow), named after the color chosen for its trademark spine by publishing house Mondadori in 1929, has often been considered 'low brow' literature, an inevitable artistic concession to an increasingly mass-oriented cultural industry. However, it is precisely because they are widely read by the public that historical detective novels can have a real impact, creating seductive, fact-based counternarratives that frequently dismantle official accounts of past events. Nicoletta Di Ciolla (2010) has constructed a genealogy of the genre's evolution in recent Italian history, beginning with the confiscation of all crime novels in 1941 and moving from the rebirth of the genre in the 1960s, when the mystery element became an instrument of social and existential analysis of contemporary Italian reality, all the way up to the most recent sub-genre of the historical detective novel. (13) Di Ciolla writes, 'the crime novel in Italy aimed to establish a very different relationship with reality, encouraging the reader not to escape from it through Active worlds, but on the contrary to use fictional representations as a way of engaging in a critical reflection on Italian social and cultural mores' (2010: 6)--and, I would also add, political mores. Indeed, the question of the impegno (political engagement) of crime novelists already emerges in Leonardo Sciascia's novels of the 1970s, which are based, for the most part, on actual episodes of crime blotters and have been discussed recently by scholars such as Marco Sangiorgi and Luca Telo (2004), who have identified the giallo as the new romanzo sociale. Claudio Milanesi (2009) also argues that the detective novel is a compensatory, rhetorical weapon that can be used to restore, at least symbolically, the truth and justice that are systematically denied in reality.

As both Luca Somigli (2010) and Barbara Pezzotti (2014) point out, since the 1990s, in response to the harsh conservative revisionism promoted by the right, Italy has seen a wave of crime writers, among them Loriano Macchiavelli and Francesco Guccini, who have chosen to set their stories during the fascist period and World War II. (14) The emergence of historical detective fiction, as with Lukacs' (1983) historical novel, is coterminous with a new experience of historicity. Its ambivalence reflects the nature of the period in which the majority of these novels are set, the biennio of 1943-1945. The crime novels that look back at this period bear clear traces of the form that preceded it and was so famously conceptualized and assessed by Lukacs. Italian historical detective fiction, in keeping with the populist appeal that Lukacs detected in the traditional historical novel, steers clear of portraying 'the so called great men of history' (Jameson, 1983: 3), choosing instead to look at the past through the 'anonymous consciousness of ordinary witnesses and merely representative heroes' (Jameson, 1983: 3) such as maresciallo Santovito. Similarly Carlo Ginzburg (1976) chooses to explore the role of the Inquisition in Italy through a detailed account of the material conditions of the miller Menocchio, inaugurating historiography's post-modern turn to microhistory. (15) Ultimately, like its nineteenth-century predecessor, the historical detective novel, while 'engaging [with] the historical specificity of the past, never loses sight of its commitments and responsibilities in our own present' (Jameson, 1983: 7). In this sense, the historical detective novel also functions as a counter-genre for memory writing, since it challenges the established forms of the diary and of the more traditional historical novel by inviting readers to participate in the deconstruction, rather than the invention, of an established, mythological narrative of the national past.

Tango e gli altri, through Santovito's search for the truth on several temporal planes--1944, the period of the crime; 1960, the time of the crime's discovery; and 2008, the moment of the novel's publication and hence its intervention in a historically distinct discursive field--unravels multiple presents that are saturated with lies about the past. The search for the real killer of the fascist family is happening simultaneously on two diegetic levels, with passages that are at times repeated in their entirety, word for word. For example, when Santovito goes back to the scene of the massacre in 1960, he literally retraces the path that led him to find the spot where the murders took place back in 1944, when, as a partigiano, he was asked to investigate this case:

'Where were they murdered?' Without answering, Musone continued on the greenway and stopped a bit after the fountain, in a small open space where villagers usually burn chestnuts. The remnants of the house were hidden by the elder, around the fountain, and by the first chestnut trees. He pointed toward the small space: 'He killed them there.' He crouched down: 'There is still blood' he said and he stood up to move toward the edges of the small space, four steps from the blood and pointed again: 'And here you have the casings of the gunshots.' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 51-52)

Salerno shook his head, wrapped the cigar butt in a chestnut leaf and put it in his pocket. One last look around and he moved toward the house while still keeping an eye to the ground. Blood traces as if they were spread on the grass, and, soon before arriving to the fountain, he crouched down again. 'And what is this?' Musone looked at Santovito's palm. 'The casing of a hunting rifle' he mumbled. 'Yet to explode' specified Salerno. 'Besides the Sten, did Bob carry with him also a hunting rifle?' 'We should ask Bob' replied Musone. (2008: 186-187) (16)

The repetitions of entire passages of text throughout the novel--another important series describes the nervousness of the partisans in charge of the execution, highlighting the depth of their emotional torment--facilitate the readers' search for clues while also nodding to the distinct oral tradition of the Resistance, which seeks to preserve collective memory through verbatim reproduction of tales about signal events. At the same time, the reappearances of the same exact text in what supposedly are distinct temporal frameworks alert the readers that, unless brought to justice, the real killer will eventually repeat the same actions, just as, without a proper reckoning, fascism will continue to reappear in Italy in the form of the Movimento Sociale Italiano, Alleanza Nazionale, and so on.

By delving into the past in order to uncover the truth of what happens to Bob, Santovito helps the readers recognize the precariousness of the post-war political unity, built on the myth of the Secondo Risorgimento, and the risks that come with revealing its hidden fissures and limitations. In one scene, Friggerio, Santovito's captain, hints at the trouble such an inquiry might stir up: 'An ugly business Santovito, a very ugly business. Do you realize that, whatever may come out of this, there will be someone accusing us of rummaging in the mud in order to stain the Resistance? With today's climate...' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 208). (17) The climate to which Friggerio refers is the one in which a growing neo-fascist party, the Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI), has entered into an alliance with the leading party of Italy, Democrazia Crisitiana (DC). And indeed, a few pages before this exchange, we learn that an MSI councilman of the town in which the investigations take place 'insinuates that, for political reasons, someone wants to rehabilitate a partisan responsible of a massacre' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 195). (18) The political tension that accompanies Santovito's investigations foreshadows the unstable and polarized political climate of the 1970s and of the late 2000s in Italy. Guccini and Macchiavelli use the potential of the detective historical novel to its fullest: Santovito's search for the truth about Bob is paralleled by the authors' journey in time to uncover the reasons for the precarity of Italian democracy, which in 2008, when the book was published, saw the vote of no confidence in the left-leaning prime minister Romano Prodi, the dissolution of the Parliament, and the rise yet again of Silvio Berlusconi.

Friggerio's preoccupation with the consequences of undermining the judicial decision of the Resistance and thus the dismantling of its myth are legitimate insofar as Italy was supposedly a nation that was 'born and founded on the Resistance and by the Resistance' (Gobbi, 1999: 10). However, this Resistance, despite often being cast as a monolith, was not a united front, but was made up of various competing internal factions. (19) These divisions are reflected in the preface of Tango e gli altri, where Macchiavelli and Guccini compile a list of all the characters divided in the social categories to which they belong, 'just like the classics' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 7), to the extent that each character carries his or her own specific symbolism. (20) The authors acknowledge the mythic aura that has accompanied accounts of the Resistance since the end of WWII, and thus cleverly employ this particular formal aspect of the classical epics for their novel. Each character, except for Santovito, belongs to one specific category: the carabinieri, the partisans of the brigata Garibaldi and those of the brigata Matteotti (two separate antifascist guerillas) and the montanari, the villagers. (21) Each of these categories is associated with a certain political tendency and a side taken during and after WWII; to a certain extent, they project divisions that still exist within Italy today. The group of the carabinieri represents the formal institutions; the brigata Matteotti and the brigata Garibaldi represent the anti-fascist revolutionary forces, in both their non-violent and violent forms; the montanari represent the silent majority that looked the other way. (22) Santovito, whose name appears listed in both the carabinieri and in the brigata Matteotti, finds himself in a privileged position: while each of the other characters remain fixed within their own perspective, he bridges several symbolic gaps at once, inhabiting a space in which he can search for the truth--not simply the specific truth about Bob's execution, but also the broader one about the Resistance.

Santovito was originally sent to investigate Bob's execution back in 1944 by his brigade captain who mistrusted the verdict of the popular tribunal. Before dispatching Santovito to the village, the Captain delivers the following speech:
I understand the desire for justice and for keeping order among us.
Our moral duty -I say moral above all--is to not be partial to anybody
but to end this sacred war we're fighting. We are fighting this war
for the justice that has perished, in order to reactivate that justice,
and we have to uphold justice first. We have to be... purer, you
understand? At the cost of even punishing one of our own... at times
the desire to do justice at any costs, at times the haste to which
the war obliged us, might make people do things that are tragically
wrong. I know that there has been a trial at their command, but I
don't know how it ended. You still have the uniform, and that still
means something. You should go to them and ask around. (Guccini and
Macchiavelli, 2008: 44) (23)

The duplicity of the Resistance, which wanted to establish order while at the same time overturning it, is mirrored, then, in the character of Santovito, at once carabiniere and partigiano. These two sociopolitical categories are, of course, not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, as Arendt (1963) explains, each revolutionary movement contains within itself a tension between a desire to overthrow the existing order and the need to establish a new one. Santovito embodies this tension in a way that allows him to solve the mystery surrounding Bob's execution while also bringing to light the revolutionary aspects of the Resistance. He, after all, was part of an institution, the Arma dei Carabinieri, which was under direct control of the fascist regime. After the armistice of 1943, the Italian armed forces either followed Mussolini to the RSI, or they joined the army of the Regno del Sud, under the control of general Badoglio. Santovito, however, chose to disobey his orders, and on his way from Bologna to Modena, surveilling a train full of prisoners, not only decided to free them, but also joined them in the struggle against the Nazis and the repubblichini. While he might still represent the institutions through his uniform, Santovito is the ultimate rebel, refusing to blindly follow orders and rejecting any reductionist narrative associated with his sociopolitical category during the biennio.

But while Santovito's multivalence gives him the authority to re-open and successfully close the investigation, it initially presents an obstacle to establishing a trustworthy relationship with the partisans, who often second-guess his loyalty to the cause. As a carabiniere he represents the order that the partisans are trying to overturn. His fellow partisans' responses to his inquiries often refer to his status as a government official: 'Marshal, we do not trust anybody. Carabinieri to say the very least' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 55); 'Aren't you asking too many questions, marshal?... Forget being a carabiniere' (2008: 55); 'If I could only trust a carabiniere' (2008: 55). (24) To these provocations, a frustrated Santovito, in an attempt to transcend such dichotomies by showing that he is one of them, replies using his combatant name and declaring his allegiance to the brigade: 'My name is Salerno, and we are on the same side, carabiniere or no' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 55); 'Here there is no carabiniere, only men who are risking their lives for the same purpose' (2008: 58). (25) This dialogue continues back and forth between an 'us,' the partisans, and a 'you,' separate from that 'us,' in the figure of Santovito, who is never fully accepted. Such internal divisions between men like Santovito and his interlocutors, however, show how the myth of the Secondo Risorgimento had glossed over the many different, conflicting voices representative of the Resistance. The fragmentation underlying this myth, not simply from a political standpoint but also along social and geographical axes, points to an unresolved Italian past, a past just as unresolved as the case of Bob's execution.

In addition to Santovito being a carabiniere and a partigiano, there is a third perspective that he embodies, which further complicates his own position within the enclosed community of the Apennines. Santovito is originally from Southern Italy, which is why his battle name is Salerno--a city in the vicinity of Naples. It is curious that Guccini and Macchiavelli chose to make their detective, the one who ultimately brings justice to Bob, a southerner, especially when considering that 'the resistance movement and the Nazi-fascist repression of civilians were... an almost exclusively northern phenomena' (Fogu, 2006: 149). Santovito's regional origins provoke different reactions among the other members of the Benemerita. Maresciallo Furci, who presides over the village adjacent to the one where Santovito is stationed as he re-opens the investigation, regards Santovito as a compatriot because Furci is also from the South, namely Calabria. 'Eee, but I am calabrese. Where are you from?' he asks Santovito. After Santovito replies that he is from 'the province of Salerno' Furci tells him 'I knew you were one of us... But here too you have good people, once you know how to get along with them, you get along' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 81). (26) Furci's confident interpellation of Santovito into his own sociopolitical group identity contrasts with how Osvaldo Barsetti, battle name Remo, still defines Santovito after WWII: 'He was almost one of ours' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 132). (27)

Maresciallo Furci's warm welcome also differs from the way in which maresciallo Amadori--whose station Santovito is using as the headquarters for his investigation--treats Santovito. Amadori, who is from Ferrara, a city north-west of Bologna, does not have anything in common with the montanari, but he still addresses Santovito as someone who does not belong to these mountains. We come to discover that Amadori holds certain beliefs about Santovito merely because he hails from the South of Italy. 'I feel for you,' he says to Santovito, 'but your Naples... I imagine you cheer for Naples right? [...] Let it rest, Amadori,' Santovito responds, 'I am not interested in soccer.' Amadori agrees to 'let it rest' but not without expressing suspicion at a 'Neapolitan who does not follow soccer'. Santovito corrects him: 'I am not Neapolitan, Amadori' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 202). (28) Despite Santovito's clear disavowal of a Neapolitan identity, Amadori, later in the novel, reiterates this ascription, this time extending it to both Furci and Santovito: 'When it comes to superstition' Amadori says, 'you Neapolitans also don't joke. Between you [Furci] and Santovito I wouldn't know.' Santovito again replies, 'I am not Neapolitan,' and he adds: 'Between my people and Neapolitans there is quite a difference, dear ferrarese' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 258). (29) Amadori, despite offending Santovito, is inadvertently admitting that the southerner, because of his supposed familiarity with myths and symbols, might be more suited to explain the villagers' sightings of a mysterious man in the woods, an ommo sahadgo, as the locals call him. Santovito, even if he immediately suspects that man to be Tango, does not share his speculations with the carabinieri. However, it is not his southern roots that help him to recognize Tango in the ommo salvadgo; rather, it is the fact that he had lived in those mountains before, that he had 'almost' been one of them, the partisans, and was familiar with the stories of that particular community. It is the richness and multivalence of his experience during WWII that places him in a privileged position to investigate what lies under the 'ideological cover of unitary politics' i.e. the myth of the Secondo Risorgimento. By conferring upon Santovito, a southerner, the exclusive capacity of bringing to light the truth, Guccini and Macchiavelli are re-writing southern Italians into a history that, in emphasizing the biennio over the ventennio, has 'marginalized the memory of southern Italians' (Fogu, 2006:149), further fragmenting the peninsula.

The female characters of Tango e gli altri are, in different ways, crucial to the investigation's success, for their substantial contributions to the Resistance has also been elided by its mythologization in post-war Italy. Since the Italians had supposedly fought fascism en masse, there was no need to honor the participation of any specific subaltern group. (30) Guccini and Macchiavelli's women refuse to adhere to the code of silence their male counterparts uphold so religiously. First there is Imelde, the author of the letter that reveals Bob's innocence. She and Bob were romantically involved and they were together the night he supposedly massacred the family of fascist sympathizers. Imelde however left for Bologna the following morning, having decided to go along with an arranged marriage setup by her uncle, the village's pastor. Ashamed to admit the truth about her past, she keeps postponing the day in which she will eventually send the letter revealing Bob's innocence. In a way, the tardiness of Imelde's letter symbolizes Italy's belatedness in coming to terms with the multifaceted Italian identity that the myth of the Secondo Risorgimento had concealed. Giving Bob an alibi meant owning up to her secret past and openly repudiating the middle-class myth of female gentility. Her anxiety and reluctance reflect a broader social condition:
Still there was the lingering hope that one day she was going to find
the courage; hence the continuous postponing: I will send it tomorrow,
I will send it tomorrow, I will send it tomorrow... A tomorrow that
never arrives and, meanwhile, the letter was at her friend's house
Giuliana, who knew and spoke to her about it every day, then every
month, and, eventually the false oblivion. This oblivion is broken
one day, when Imelde made Giuliana promise that in case she died,
Giuliana had to give the letter to marshal Santovito. And the
cowardice of Giuliana who did not feel up to the task and instead gave
the letter to a boy of 15 years old [son of Imelde and Bob]. (Guccini
and Macchiavelli, 2008: 237) (31)

Then there is Raffaella, the teacher at the local school and Santovito's lover, who provides the marshal with a precious connection to Gialdiffa, Bob's mother, through her job. In this sense, Raffaella can be thought of as a modern staffetta--that is, a woman in charge of keeping the network between the brigades fully functioning. Gialdiffa never stopped looking for the truth; however, once she finds out who killed Bob, Gialdiffa abruptly dies at the hands of Egidio Olmi. What the authors seem to suggest here is that Gialdiffa's personal, unrelenting quest to discover the truth about her son's death does not result in retributive justice. Ultimately, justice must be conferred through official channels, in a space that guarantees a certain level of visibility and resources which Gialdiffa, who does not have the resources and the public power of Santovito, cannot provide. Gialdiffa's murder represents yet another example of the novel's rhetorical redundancy, hinting at the possibility that certain groups continue to benefit from an unresolved past and thus do not wish for the truth to emerge. Egidio Olmi, now the mayor of the town representing the DC, has everything to lose from untangling the lies that have surrounded Bob's murder.

In the final scenes, the overlapping of past and present is acutely felt in what should have been a secret meeting of the brigata Garibaldi, Bob's brigade. Santovito knows about this meeting and chooses to attend. Tango, who has not been seen since the end of the war and was in charge of Bob's trial, interrupts the meeting, shouting that it was his idea to have this little get together. He then asks Santovito if he figured out who was responsible for framing Bob. When Santovito replies in the affirmative but adds that he wants proof and sworn statements to bring to the court--after all, the captain of his brigade commanded him to 'uphold justice first' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 44) -- Tango, disillusioned with the 'pure' justice that the Resistance was supposed to accomplish, shouts: 'In a court? Are we still there? Are you really still hoping at your age and with your experience, in a justice that justice has never accomplished? Has our partisan tribunal accomplished justice?' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 313). (32) In setting up Bob's execution, Tango believed he was acting for a greater good, a bigger project, that eventually dissolved into nothing. Tango, who did not parade with the rest of the Resistance once the war ended, lived isolated in the mountains for the following sixteen years, grieving for the dream that died the moment Togliatti absolved everybody without distinction. Tango is not afraid to talk about the Resistance, and he is not afraid to remember: he chose to embrace the identity tied to his battle name. Santovito, because he understands that justice needs to be served in the public sphere in order to clear Bob's name and the ideals upheld by the town's partisans, is resolute about having Egidio Olmi formally tried. Tango issues a warning to him: 'This is it, Salerno! But remember well what I am saying now: if he doesn't get a life sentence, when he gets out, even if it is in thirty years, I will be there waiting with this rifle, which was Bob's, and I will fire the last spray of gunfire' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 322). (33) Tango, then, represents the disillusionment with the post-war institutions that failed to fulfill the political promises of the Resistance and manipulated its discourse to create an official memory of the war that glorifies the biennio and erases the twenty years of the fascist regime. Santovito functions as a catalyst of hope: he embodies an Italian identity that is multifaceted and that can mend the tensions and divisions that the myth of the Secondo Risorgimento and its homogenous anti-fascist Italian identity have only exacerbated.

Santovito is able to expose the truth precisely because he embodies the various, at times contradictory social constituencies that bought into or enabled the myth of the Secondo Risorgimento as an expedient to conceal an unwelcome past--as in the case of the official institutions and the fascist sympathizers--or a forbidding future--as in the case of the socialist and communist forces. While Egidio Olmi used the cover of the Resistance to commit a heinous crime, both he and Santovito share responsibility for the subsequent cover-up of the truth that unjustly forged a false, single anti-fascist Italian identity and allowed the wounds inflicted by fascism to fester. The literary inquiry staged by Guccini and Macchiavelli into the myth of the Secondo Risorgimento suggests that a proper reckoning with the past requires an acceptance of the messy, internal conflicts that exist across time and space, from the macro level of official institutions, regional histories, and political constituencies right down to the granular level of individual identities and personal histories. An Italy that aspired to embrace the multiple, fluid, and, at times, compromised identities within it would, of course, lose some of its putative uniformity and coherence. But perhaps such an Italy would make up for what it lacks in appearances with what it gains in substance--a deeper, more nuanced sense of its history and, hence, stronger commitments to truth and justice.


(1.) Loriano Macchiavelli (1934) is from Vergato, a small town in the Apennines of Bologna, Italy and has written many crime novels. He is perhaps best known for inventing a different detective character, Sarti Antonio, whose numerous adventures lasted more than thirty years and have also been adapted for television. Macchiavelli has always set his crime fiction either in Bologna or in the Apennines surrounding the city, and famously collaborated with singer-songwriter Francesco Guccini (1940) on a musical ode to the region. The figure of Detective Santovito appears in several novels, including Macaroni. Romanzo di santi e di briganti (1997), Un disco dei platters. Romanzo di un maresciallo e di una regina (1998), Questo sangue che impasta la terra (2001), and Lo spirito e altri briganti (2003).

(2.) 'Copertura ideologica della politica unitaria'(Pavone, 1991: 180).

(3.) 'Repubblica necessaria, guidata da elementi di null'altro desiderosi che del riscatto patriottico e della protezione delle popolazioni' (Franzinelli, 2006: 142).

(4.) Togliatti promulgated an amnesty law that in its original form only granted forgiveness to those citizens who collaborated with fascism but did not have high-ranking administrative roles. However, the wording of the amnesty law allowed the judges ample interpretive power, so much so that some jurists and judges went as far as interpreting article 3--which granted amnesty only to collaborationists who lacked civic, political, or military positions--as applicable to virtually all forms of collaborationism, as in the case of the RSI (Franzinelli, 2006: 51).

(5.) '[Pone] le premesse per una legalizzazione dei neofascisti nel nuovo ordine politico' (Rusconi, 1995: 170).

(6.) See for example the massacre of 500 civilians at Sant'Anna di Stazzema on August 12, 1944. Giovanni Contini in La memoria divisa (1997) analyzes how at times these massacres provoked anti-resistance sentiments among the locals; he is especially interested in the case of Civitella, where the hatred toward the partisans did not stop after Liberation day (as for example happened in Sant'Anna di Stazzema) and it fomented the creation of two concurrent memories of the same event:--203 civilians massacred by German troops.

(7.) An example of this conflicted historiography is the debate between the two prominent historians Giampaolo Pansa and Massimo Storchi. Pansa wrote several books in which he gave voice to the families of those fascists massacred after Liberation day, in order to create a counter-narrative of the ousted regime. In his 2005 book Sconosciuto 1945 (Unknown 1945) he comments on his first 2003 best seller, // Sangue dei Vinti (The Blood of the Defeated): 'that book provoked a wave of polemics, coming from only one part: from those who, sixty years after the end of WWII, still insisted on not talking about the verdict handed down to the defeated fascists' (Pansa, 2005: ix). In contrast to Pansa, Massimo Storchi explains in an interview: 'it does not make sense to call Pansa a counterfeiter, which is not true, but it is his contextualization of events that occludes the real perception of the facts' (Storchi in Telese, 2010). He goes on to say, however, that 'Pansa also fosters misunderstandings, such as the idea that the Resistance was a crime' (Storchi in Telese, 2010). In an attempt to challenge the mythic status of the Resistance, in 2005 Storchi published Sangue al bosco del lupo, a book about partisans killing other partisans.

(8.) 'Abbiamo tutti sparato, tutti o nessuno' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 87).

(9.) 'Lasci stare Remo, maresciallo, che e morto e sepolto anche lui' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 133).

(10.) 'Lei non sara mica uno di quelli che dice che i partigiani hanno ammazzato a destra e a sinistra senza guardare in faccia a nessuno' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 132).

(11.) 'Santovito ricorda le macerie, le case sventrate, il campanile della chiesa sbrecciato, i crateri dei proiettili che butteravano le strade. Sospira, nel ricordo. Ora il paese e ricostruito, tutto sembra tranquillo, niente piu ricorda quei giorni, anche se sono passati solo quindici anni' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 79).

(12.) 'Prima del Frabbone, la bottega la tenevano suo padre e, prima di lui, il padre di suo padre e ancora altri padri di padri per chissa quante antiche generazioni. Dopo il Frabbone nessuno continuera piu il mestiere: non ce n'e motivo. E il Frabbone non si e sposato' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 68).

(13.) The Ministero della Cultura Popolare condemned the depictions of murderous and criminal actions in the gialli of the Mondadori collection as non-Italian and contrary to fascist credos, hence the confiscation of the gialli and the demise of the series.

(14.) Among others: Edoardo Angelino, Corrado Augias, Leonardo Gori, Carlo Lucarelli, and Lucio Trevisan.

(15.) For more on microhistory and the saga of Santovito please see Paolo Chirumbolo's essay 'Raccontare il passato: il ciclo di Santovito tra microstoria, macrostoria, e cultura popolare'.

(16.) 'Dove e che sono stati ammazzati?' Senza rispondere, Musone si avvio, prosegui per la cavedagna e si fermo poco oltre la fontana, in un piccolo spiazzo dove i montanari sono soliti bruciare i ricci delle castagne. I resti della casa erano nascosti dal sambuco, attorno alla fontana, e dai primi castagni. Indico lo spiazzo: 'Li ha ammazzati li.' Si chino: 'C'e ancora il sangue' disse e si alzo per andare al limite della piccola spianata, quattro passi dal sangue e ancora indico. 'E qui ci sono i bossoli della raffica' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 51-52). 'Salerno nego con un gesto del capo, fascio il mozzicone in una foglia di castagno e lo mise in tasca. Un'ultima occhiata attorno e si avvio alla casa continuando a controllare il terreno. Tracce di sangue che pareva spalmato sull'erba e, poco prima di arrivare alla fontana, si chino ancora. 'E questo cos'e?' Musone guardo il palmo che Salerno gli porgeva. 'La cartuccia di un fucile da caccia' borbotto. 'Ancora da esplodere' preciso Salerno. 'Oltre allo Sten, Bob aveva con se anche un fucile da caccia?' 'Bisognerebbe chiederlo a Bob' fece Musone' (2008, 186-187).

(17.) 'Un brutto affare Santovito, un bruttissimo affare. Ti rendi conto che, qualunque cosa ne venga fuori, ci sara qualcuno che ci accusera di voler rimestare nel torbido per buttare fango sulla Resistenza? Con il clima di questi giorni poi...' (Guccini Macchiavelli, 2008: 208).

(18.) 'Insinua che, per motivi politici, si voglia riabilitare un partigiano responsabile di un massacro' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 195).

(19.) Other important novels such as Calvino's II sentiero dei nidi di ragno (1947), Pavese's La luna e i falo (1950), and Fenoglio's Una questione privata (1963), show the fragmentation of the Italian Resistance and its tension and violence.

(20.) 'Alla maniera dei classici' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 7).

(21.) I have deliberately chosen not to translate carabinieri and montanari in order to retain the cultural resonances conveyed by these words in Italian. Montanari literally means people from the mountains, specifically in this case those who live in the Apennine, but it also refers to a set of behaviors associated with them, such as diffidence toward foreigners and a strong sense of community. Carabinieri also carries with it several traits that go beyond the mere fact of being part of the Italian Armed Forces; many popular jokes feature carabinieri in them, who are said to always do things in pairs, to be from the South, and to be somewhat dull. However, among the public state forces, carabinieri are more feared than the police.

(22.) The Garibaldi Brigades were known for being more violent than the Matteotti. Their names are also symbolic here. Matteotti was a politician, integral to the unification of Italy, who was murdered for opposing fascism; G aribaldi was the general who expelled the Bourbons from southern Italy, unifying the peninsula.

(23.) 'Capisco il desiderio di giustizia e quello di tener ordine fra di noi, il nostro dovere morale, dico soprattutto morale, e di non avere nessuna pendenza, a parte la guerra sacrosanta che stiamo combattendo. Facciamo questa guerra per la giustizia scomparsa, per ripristinarla, e dobbiamo fare per primi giustizia. Dobbiamo essere piu... i piu puri capisci? A costo anche di colpire fra noi... a volte questo desiderio di giustizia a tutti i costi, a volte la fretta a cui ci costringe la guerra, potrebbero far fare delle cose tragicamente sbagliate. So che c'e stato un processo, al loro comando, non so come e andato a finire. Tu hai ancora la divisa, e ancora quella significa qualcosa. Dovresti andare da loro e informarti' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 44). Emphasis added.

(24.) 'Maresciallo noi non ci fidiamo di nessuno. Dei carabinieri meno di tutti' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 55); 'Non stai facendo troppe domande, maresciallo?... Dimenticati di essere un carabiniere' (2008: 57); 'Se potessi fidarmi di un carabiniere' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 58).

(25.) 'Mi chiamo Salerno, Ballerina, e stiamo dalla stessa parte, carabiniere o no' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 55); 'Qui non c'e nessun carabiniere... ci sono solo uomini che rischiano la vita per lo stesso motivo' (2008: 58).

(26.) 'Eee, ma io sono calabrese. Tu di dove sei? Provincia di Salerno. Lo sapevo che eri dei nostril... Ma anche qui c'e buona gente, a saperci andare d'accordo, si va d'accordo' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 81).

(27.) 'Era quasi uno dei nostri' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 132).

(28.) 'Mi spiace per te, ma il tuo Napoli... Immagino che tieni per il Napoli no?... Lascia perdere, Amadori, che a me il calcio non interessa... Lascio perdere, lascio perdere ma un napoletano che non si interessa di calico... Non sono napoletano Amadori' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 202).

(29.) "Quanto a superstizione' dice Amadori, 'anche voi napoletani non scherzate. Fra te [Furci] e Santovito non saprei'. 'Non sono napoletano' precisa Santovito. 'Fra la mia gente e i napoletani c'e una bella differenza caro ferrarese" (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 258).

(30.) Estimates say that more than 70,000 women fought with the Resistance, however only 11 women have been honored for their sacrifices. Please see the January 2019 article by Annalisa Camilla on Internazionale 'Il ruolo rimosso delle donne nella Resistenza'

(31.) 'Ancora la speranza che un giorno quel coraggio l'avrebbe trovato e i continui rinvii: la spediro domani, la spediro domani, la spediro domain... Un domani che non arrivava e, nel frattempo, la lettera era presso l'amica Giuliana, che sapeva e che con lei ne parlava ogni giorno, poi ogni settimana, poi ogni mese e infine il falso oblio. Rotto, un giorno, per farsi promettere dall'amica che, nel caso che lei, Imelde, fosse morta, Giuliana avrebbe fatto avere la lettera al maresciallo Santovito. E la vigliaccheria di Giuliana che non se l'era sentita e aveva affidato il compito a un ragazzo di quindici anni' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 237).

(32.) 'In tribunale? Ancora qui stiamo? Speri ancora, alla tua eta e con la tua esperienza, in una gisutizia che giustizia non l'ha mai fatta? Ha fatto giustizia il nostro tribunale partigiano?' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 313).

(33.) 'E fatta Salerno! Ma ricordati bene quello che ti dico adesso: se non avra l'ergastolo, quando uscira di galera, fosse anche da qui a trent'anni, io saro la a aspettare e questo mitra, che e lo Sten del povero Bob, sparera la sua ultima raffica' (Guccini and Macchiavelli, 2008: 322).


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Giulia Ricco

University of Michigan, United States

Autore corrispondente:

Giulia Ricco, University of Michigan Romance Languages and Literatures 4108 Modern Language Building, 812 E.

Washington St. Ann Arbor, WA 48109-1275 United States.


DOI: 10.1177/0014585819870763
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