Penguin Italian Reader – 93. Giorgio Amendola

May 16, 2010

Penguin Italian Reader, ed. Timothy Holme.   Norberto Valentini, Domenica del Corriere, 16 novembre 1971.

Amendola is sitting in his office on the fifth floor of the famous palace on the Via delle Botteghe. A ‘Franciscan’ office furnished to the best of one’s ability, with mass-produced furniture and absolutely bare walls. It’s been sixty years exactly this month. Since 1935, he’s been happily married to Germaine, a French woman of the middle bourgeoisie. He’s dressed in a grey suit which looks big for him around the hips because for the last few month’s while following a strict diet of meat and vegetable ‘stews’ he’s managed to lose 33 kilos (from 137 to 104).

“In the last few years”, he observes, “the Domenica del Corriere has changed a lot. Even you are going with the times.” He speaks with a kindly, expressionless tone, but behind the facade it’s not hard to feel a restless, impulsive temperament which stems from a very messy adolescence. His father, Giovanni, was Minister of Colonies in the Facta government, attacked by the Fascists in 1926 and in the wake of this aggressiveness, died. His mother, Eva Kuhn, was a noted Russian essayist, little inclined to busy herself with home and her sons. “At sixteen years of age”, says Giorgio Amendola, “I went to the Roman highschool Visconti, but I had a thousand other interests. I like girls, took up boxing, went skiing, got involved in politics and the lineup of liberal democratic movements and I was passionate about theatre.”

This passion for the theatre, and for Pirandello in particular, led him to found, together with another ‘young lion’ of the capital, Galeazzo Ciano, the Company of Jackals, a group of fans in reverse which from the gallery of the Augusteo Theatre condemned weakness, shouted and scuffled all the works which were guilty of romanticism and traditionalism. Handsome, of good-looking build (a gorgeous hunk of a man, we say these days), a bolshy sleight of hand, he was extremely courteous in public, a sort of Latin lover from the beginning of the century. He goes back to this time, for example, in a famous and lively flirt with Edda Mussolini, who then became Mrs Ciano. Adventures with the opposite sex, nevertheless hasn’t made negligent about politics. Following family tradition, he was always decisively anti-Fascist; at Visconti High, he spent days not, with his cerebral companions, didn’t take himself a with the blackshirts, and most of the time he gave them a hiding, turning back home ground up and bruised. “In the end,” he recounts, “my father took me into a store in Via Grebero and gave me an ox-bone walking stick with a soul of steel. “So at least,” she said to me giving me a slap on the back, “you’ll be able to defend yourself better, otherwise one time or another they will cut you down with sticks.”

After the tragic death of his father in 1926, Giorgio Amendola, struck by the shock of it all, had a deep, critical re-think so that by 1929 he ended up joining the Communist Party, to which he’s devoted all his energy at first as a simple card-carrying member then as a member of the Central Committee and president of the economic department. “Now, however,” he says, “I’ve changed a lot. Once I was much more violent – I went off and shouted so much that I became famous for my outburst of anger.But then it passed quickly because, at heart, the proverb’s right: “dogs which bark, don’t bite”.

alla meglio, to the best of one’s ability

mobili di serie, mass-produced furniture

fuori serie, custom-built

pareti nude nude, absolutely bare walls

essere felicemente sposato/a con…, to be happily married with…

vestire un completo grigio, to be dressed in a grey suit

largo ai fianchi, wide at the hips

nel giro di un mese, within a month

carne ai ferri, grilled (as in bistecca)

dimagrire di dieci chili, to lose ten kilos

avere mille altri interessi, to have a thousand other interests

fare sci, to ski

avere passione/essere appassionato di…, to be passionate about

una specia di claque alla rovescia, a sort of group of fans in reverse

dai loggione dell’Augusteo, gallery of the Augusteo Theatre

tafferugli, scuffle

un ‘fusto’, a gorgeous hunk of a man

si direbbe ora, it would be said these days

movimentato, lively

tuttavia, nevertheless

non tenere conto di, to disregard; farsi trascurare, to neglect

prendersi a pugni/prendersi a botte/fare a botte, to come to blows

buscarle, to get a hiding

il piu’ delle volte, most of the time

nerbo, strength or backbone, senza nerbo, effete

con l’anima d’accaio, with a heart of steel

un bue/i buoi, ox/oxen

dandomi una pacca, giving me a slap

altrimenti una volta o l’altra, or (otherwise) at one time or another

dare una bastonata a…, to beat with a stick

la morte del padre, death of (his) father

colpire dal shock, to be knocked over the by the shock; colpire nel segno, to knock the nail on the head

aderire, to support (sciopero, petizione)

daprima…poi…, at first…then (later)

sono molto cambiato; una volta ero…; scattare, to go off; andare in collera, to get angry

mi passava subito, it passed (me) quickly

in fondo, at heart

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