Maledetti Toscani

 

Curzio Malaparte

 

O non lo sai che i toscani stanno

a sedere sui buchi degli altri?

 

Dal modo di guardare dei toscani, si direbbe che non sono mai testimoni soltanto: ma giudici. Ti guardano non per guardarti, come fanno gli altri italiani, ma per giudicarti: e quanto pesi, quanto costi, e che vali, e che pensi, e che vuoi. E tale è il loro modo di guardarti, che a un certo punto ti accorgi che vali ben poco, o niente. Da questo, e non da altro, nascono l’inquietudine e il sospetto che in tutti i popoli, italiani e stranieri, suscita la sola vista di un toscano.

Com’è, infatti, che tutti si sentono a disagio, e quasi in colpa, in presenza di un toscano? (Non di fronte a un toscano: ma anche soltanto in sua presenza.) Per quale ragione, dirò nuovamente come ho detto in principio, se a una festa da ballo, a un pranzo nuziale, si affaccia all’improvviso un toscano, tutti ammutoliscono, gli strumenti tacciono, il riso muore sulle labbra dei convenuti? Com’è che un toscano, a un funerale, par che ci vada per spregio? E al capezzale di un malato par che ci venga per vederlo morire?

Per una sola ragione, dirò, che ti guarda in quel suo modo: non per guardarti soltanto, ma per giudicarti.

 

 

 

 

Damned Tuscans

 

Curzio Malaparte

 

Didn’t you know Tuscans sit

 on other people’s holes?

 

From the way Tuscans look at you, you could say they are never mere spectators, but judges. They look at you not just to look at you, like other Italians do, but to judge you: how heavy, and how expensive, and how valuable are you? And what do you think, and what do you want? They have a way of looking at you that, at a certain point, you realize you are worth very little, or even nothing at all. It is from this fact, and this alone, that an uneasiness and suspicion grows in all peoples, Italians and foreigners alike, as soon as they see a Tuscan.

Why is it, in fact, that everyone feels uncomfortable, and almost at fault, when in the presence of a Tuscan? (Not in front of a Tuscan, but even just in his presence). For what possible reason, and I will repeat what I said at the beginning, is it that, if you find yourself at a ball, a wedding feast, and a Tuscan enters the room, silence suddenly falls on the room, and smiles die on the  lips of the guests? How is it that a Tuscan, at a funeral, looks as if he were there out of spite? And why is it that, at the death bed of a sick man, it seems as if he had only come to watch him die?

For one reason alone, I say, does he look at you in such a way: not merely to look at you, but to judge you.

 

 

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi

 

 

Curzio Malaparte was born in Prato on June 9th 1898. His real name was born Kurt Erich Suckert, and he was an Italian journalist, dramatist, short-story writer, novelist and diplomat. The excerpt is taken from his book Maladetti Toscani, Leonardo Ed. 1994, pp 72.

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