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Leonardo Sciascia.

Leonardo Sciascia (January 8, 1921 – November 20, 1989) was a Sicilian writer and politician. He was a novelist, essayist, and playwright, and some of his works have been made into films, including "Open Doors" (1990) and "Il Giorno della Civetta" (1968).



Sciascia was born on January 8th, 1921 in Racalmuto, Sicily.

He was a councillor in Sicily, a deputy in the national assembly and, later, a member of the European Parliament. Trained as a teacher, it was only later in life that he devoted himself to writing about Sicily and the Mafia. Sciascia died in Palermo in 1989.

Work summary

A number of his books, such as The Day of the Owl and Equal Danger, demonstrate how the Mafia manages to sustain itself in the face of the anomie inherent in Sicilian life. He presented a forensic analysis of the kidnapping and assassination of Aldo Moro, a prominent Christian Democrat, in his book The Moro Affair. Sciascia's work is intricate and displays a longing for justice while attempting to show how corrupt Italian society had become and remains. His linking of politicians, intrigue, and the Mafia gave him a high profile, which was very much at odds with his private self. This resulted in his becoming widely disliked for his criticism of Giulio Andreotti, then Prime Minister, for his lack of action towards freeing Moro and answering the demands of the Brigate Rosse (Red Brigade).

Sciascia was part of a House of Deputies investigation into Moro's kidnapping, which concluded that there was a certain amount of negligence on the part of the Christian Democrat Party in their stance that the state was bigger than a person and that they would not swap Moro for 13 political prisoners, even though Moro himself had stated that the swapping of innocent people for political prisoners was a valid option in negotiations with terrorists. However, senior members of the party conveniently forgot this stance and even went as far as to say that Moro had been drugged and tortured to utter these words.

In Sciascia's books, there is rarely a happy ending and there is rarely justice for the ordinary man. Prime examples of this are Equal Danger (Il Contesto), where the police's best detective is drafted to Sicily to investigate a spate of murders of judges. Focussing on the inability of authorities to handle such investigation into the corruptions, Sciascia's hero is finally thwarted.

Sciascia wrote of his unique Sicilian experience, linking families with political parties, the treachery of alliances and allegiances and the calling of favours that result in outcomes that are not for the benefit of society, but of those individuals who are in favour. Sciascia perhaps, in the end, wanted to prove that the corruption that was and is endemic in Italian society helps only those who are part of the secret societies and loyalties and the political classes. This philosophy is reflected in this quote by him, inscribed on a stone tablet overlooking Racalmuto: "Ho tentato di raccontare qualcosa della vita di un paese che amo, e spero di aver dato il senso di quanto lontana sia questa vita dalla liberta e dalla giustizia, cioè dalla ragione." ("I have tried to recount something about a country that I love, and I hope to have given a sense of how far this life is from liberty and from justice, that is, from reason.")

His 1984 opus Occhio di Capra is an important collection of Sicilian sayings and proverbs gleaned from the area around his native village, to which he was intensely attached throughout his life.


  • Le favole della dittatura (1950)
  • La Sicilia, il suo cuore (1952)
  • Le Parrocchie di Regalpetra (1956)
  • "Sicilian Uncles" ("Gli zii di Sicilia", 1958 - short story)
  • The Day of the Owl (Il giorno della civetta, 1961)
  • Il consiglio d'Egitto (1963)
  • Morte dell'Inquisitore (1964)
  • L'onorevole (1965)
  • To Each His Own (A ciascuno il suo, 1966)
  • La corda pazza (1970)
  • Equal Danger (Il contesto, 1971)
  • "The Wine-Dark Sea" ("Il mare color del vino", 1973 - collected short stories)
  • Todo Modo (1974)
  • Candido; ovvero, Un sogno fatto in Sicilia (1977)
  • The Moro Affair (L'affare Moro, 1978)
  • Occhio di Capra (1984)
  • Open Doors (Porte aperte, 1987)
  • The Knight and Death (Il cavaliere e la morte, 1988)
  • The Mystery of Majorana[1] (La scomparsa di Majorana, 1975)
  • Il Lungo Viaggio (?)



In Italian on Sciascia's works

  • V. Fascia, F. Izzo, A. Maori, La memoria di carta: Bibliografia delle opere di Leonardo Sciascia, Edizioni Otto/Novecento, Milano, 1998
  • V. Vecellio (a cura di), L'uomo solo: L'Affaire Moro di Leonardo Sciascia, Edizioni La Vita Felice, Milano, 2002
  • V. Vecellio, Saremo perduti senza la verità, Edizioni La Vita Felice, Milano, 2003
  • G. Jackson, Nel labirinto di Sciascia, Edizioni La Vita Felice, Milano, 2004
  • L. Palazzolo Leonardo Sciascia deputato radicale 1979-1983, Kaos edizioni, 2004
  • L. Pogliaghi (a cura di), Giustizia come ossessione: forme della giustizia nella pagina di Leonardo Sciascia, Edizioni La Vita Felice, Milano, 2005
  • M. D'Alessandra e S.Salis (a cura di), Nero su giallo: Leonardo Sciascia eretico del genere poliziesco, Edizioni La Vita Felice, Milano, 2006.
  • P. Milone, L'enciclopedia di Leonardo Sciascia: caos, ordine e caso : atti del 1o ciclo di incontri (Roma, gennaio-aprile 2006), Quaderni Leonardo Sciascia, 11. Milano: La Vita Felice, 2007.

In English on Sciascia's works

  • L. Sciascia, M. Padovani, Sicily as Metaphor, Marlboro: Marlboro Press, 1994.
  • J. Farrell, Leonardo Sciascia, Writers of Italy. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1995.
  • G. Ania, Fortunes of the Firefly: Sciascia's Art of Detection, Market Harborough: University Texts, 1996.
  • R. Glynn, Contesting the Monument: The Anti-Illusionist Italian Historical Novel, Italian perspectives, 10. Leeds, England: Northern Universities Press, 2005.
  • J. Cannon. The Novel As Investigation: Leonardo Sciascia, Dacia Maraini, and Antonio Tabucchi, Toronto Italian studies. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006.


  1. ^ The book focuses on the mysterious disappearance of Italian physicist Ettore Majorana. Sciascia summarizes the results of the investigations, examines the facts and the documents concerning Majorana and suggests a theory about the scientist's fate, rejecting the "suicide" hypothesis.

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