Il lettore e l’orso

(da Bestie)

Federigo Tozzi

Da ragazzo, mi compravo pochi libri. Mio padre voleva ch’io non leggessi; e, con la scusa che mi sarei sciupato gli occhi, non cavava mai un soldo in tasca. Quei cinque o sei che avevo, li tenevo insieme con la biancheria; e m’avveniva che, quando tiravo il cassetto per prendere una camicia o altro, ne aprivo uno e leggevo senza muoverlo dal suo posto.

Ma, un capodanno, la mia donna si decise a comprarmi per regalo, avendo io insistito fin da un mese prima, quel libro del Verne che si chiama Nel paese delle pellicce. Io cominciai a leggerlo, ma non andavo mai in fondo; perché tornavo sempre alla pagine a dietro.

Finalmente, dopo un tre mesi, giunsi all’ultima pagina come se quelle avventure fossero toccate a me. E più d’ogni altra cosa, forse, mi rimase a mente una figura dov’era un orso che voleva entrare dentro una capanna.

Tutte le volte che ho visto orsi veri, ho sempre pensato a quello; e come, guardandolo, per un bel pezzo mi scuotevo e mi smuovevo tutto.

The reader and the bear

(from Bestie)

Federigo Tozzi

As a boy, I bought very few books. My father didn’t want me to read; and, with the excuse that it would hurt my eyes, never gave me a cent. I kept the five or six books I had in a drawer with my underwear; and sometimes when I pulled it open to get a shirt or something, I’d open a book and read it without removing it from its hiding place.

But, one New Year’s Eve, my girlfriend decided to buy me a book, The fur country by Verne, because I’d been pressing her for it for a whole month. I started reading it, but never got to the end, because I would always go back to the previous pages.

Finally, after three months or so, I got to the last page as if that adventure had really been mine. And what stuck with me more than anything else, maybe, was the image of a bear trying to break into a cabin.

Every time I see real bears, I always think of that one, and of how, just by looking at it, I would shake for the longest time and get jumpy.

 

Translation©Matilda Colarossi

Federigo Tozzi was the son of an innkeeper. He first worked for the railway, and then took over his father’s inn. In 1911 he published his first book of poetry. In 1913 he began to work on his first novel, Con gli occhi chiusi, an autobiographical work. In the same year, he founded the magazine La Torre.  He is considered an important representative of Italian modernism, and, according to Italo Calvino, one of the great European writers of Italian descent.

The excerpt Il lettore e l’orso by Federico Tozzi can be found in Bestie, Treves 1917 at https://www.liberliber.it/online/autori/autori-t/federigo-tozzi/bestie/

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