Penguin Italian Reader – 2. Il Devoto di San Giuseppe

April 30, 2010

Penguin Italian Reader, ed. Timothy Holme.

Italo Calvino, Fiabe italiane (Einaudi, 1956).

There was a bloke who was a devotee of St Joseph and that was all. To St Joseph he recited all the orations, lit candles, gave alms, all up saw nothing else but St Joseph. Come the day he died and went to heaven, he reported to St Peter. St Peter didn’t want to receive him; all the good he’d ever done in his life had been to pray to St Joseph. Concerning his good deads, nothing; and the Lord, the Madonna and all the other Saints, it was as if they didn’t belong to him. “Since I finally got here,” said the St Joseph devotee, “at least let me see him.” And St Peter sent for St Joseph. St Joseph came and hardly set eyes on his devotee when he said, “But, good soul, I’m indeed pleased to have you with us. Come, come inside.” “I can’t; in there is what I don’t want.” “And why not?” “Because I said I only prayed to you, and not to the other Saints.” “Ah, nonsense, what’s important is, come in all the same.” But St Peter persisted in not wanting him to. He didn’t want a big squabble over it and in the end St Joseph said to St Peter, “Oh, at least, either let him in or I’ll take my wife and the kid and set up Heaven somewhere else.” His wife was the Madonna, his child was Our Lord. St Peter thought it better to accede and let in the devotee of St Joseph.


c’era uno che era… There was one (man) who…

e basta. and that was all (there was to it).

accendere il cero, to light the candle

facere le elemosine, to give alms

non vedere altro che…, to see nothing else but…

venire il giorno che…, to come the day when…

quel che aveva fatto di buono nella vita era stato…, all the good he’d ever done in his life had been to….

pregare San…, to pray to Saint…

buone azioni, good deeds

venire fin qua…, to come here at last

lasciate almeno che…, let me at least…

figuriamoci, nonsense

cos’importa, what’s important is,

pensare meglio di cedere, to think it better to accede


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