Unpublished portrait of Oriana Fallaci:|
the greatest Italian woman writer
by Lucia Annunziata & Carlo Rosella
Panorama January 4, 2002
This isn't an interview - it's a well known fact that Oriana Fallaci doesn't grant them. This is a portrait that came into being though chance, through an unexpected coincidence (fortunate for us) as well as through an old friendship. Chance took us to New York and 'la Fallaci' into the lobby of the hotel where the two of us were standing with Rage and Pride in hand. We had both gotten it from the publisher in Rome thirty-six hours earlier, at the moment of its appearance in book shops. In New York, however, it hadn't yet arrived, and 'la Fallaci' hadn't seen it yet.
She immediately made out at a distance the red cover with the letters in gold. She had created it herself, had willed it, being as she is precise about every detail, every subtlety of the covers of her books - one concrete sign of the devouring passion she puts into her work. The encounter with those two first copies was irresistible. She threw herself in a rush upon what she called "my little book" and gathered us up along with it. It was the evening of Thursday, December 13, the same time as the release of bin Laden's confessional tape. We wanted to see that; we had to see it. She wanted to see it, and had to see it. We ended up at her house, right inside that brownstone protected by the two little gates and the entrance door that never opens - all three of us in front of the television set, pinned to the screen, listening to Bin Laden and his giggling over the thousands of dead while saying, "We had foreseen them but had not hoped for so many..." And as a commentary there was the voice of 'la Fallaci,' furious, rough, grieving: "Evil. Evil. Evil...[maledetto, maledetto, maledetto]."
The next day we met again and this time we had a tape recorder. We convinced her to accept it ("we swear it won't be an interview!"). It was a long day. And to our surprise we found ourselves guided along the same path she'd traversed in writing Rage and Pride, even in format, as you will see (including the parentheses, line headings, and subchapters). Then gradually the discussion moved away from the immediacy of current events, from Bin Laden's giggles, from his 'we had foreseen them but had not hoped for so many.' Little by little, finally, the discussion took on the form of a portrait - a portrait of her. And a moving one.
It's moving, because of the circumstances of what she casually calls "little-book" - moving, because of this publication, so long awaited, yet so unexpected. And then there is the exceptional number of copies sold. Announced only the morning of Tuesday, December 11, appearing in bookstores the morning of the twelfth, the two hundred thousand copies of the first edition were sold out in almost every city by late afternoon the same day. Since then, Rage and Pride has continually been reprinted. Fifty thousand copies come off Rizzoli's presses every day. As we write on Christmas Eve, the book has reached half a million copies. People have gone to bookstores who never went to them before. They stand in line, wait their turn, and very often buy more than one copy. It's a publishing phenomenon never seen or even conceived of before this.
But the point isn't just the number of copies sold so far. It's the fact that this book has redefined Italy's conception of the current conflict between the West and the Islamic world. Without terms of mediation or compromises or "if's" or "but's," without swimming in the sea of "everything goes" whose existence for her represents one of Italy's gravest defects, Oriana Fallaci has confronted the issue with ironclad simplicity. We're different, she has said - and, at this point, incompatible. Behind this war, she has said, there is a choice between our civilization and their religion; between us and them. With the era of ecumenism over, her violent commitment has tossed out the last vestiges of the "politically correct" [given in English] - which is to say, that concept of inclusiveness so broad as to become a loss of identity, that idea of cultural relativity leading into moral relativism and into an incapacity to take stands or defend differences. ("Defend" is the key verb in 'la Fallaci's' argument and becomes a call to action.)
Can we really be surprised that this call has lit such a fire of polemic and support? Can we marvel at that - in a country like ours, planted where the World's South begins, a country nurtured through the precarious balance of the Cold War, a country where Moslem immigrants arouse fear and al- Qa'ida cells make up fake passports? Shouldn't politicians and intellectuals, the two categories most scourged by 'la Fallaci,' ask themselves why this book is selling at such an unbelievable rate? Shouldn't they ask themselves what questions citizens are seeking answers to in buying Rage and Pride?
This is a success that's all the more powerful because it's not fabricated. Since the article in Il Corriere della Sera, which was the first draft (or condensed version) of the book, 'la Fallaci' hasn't spoken a word. As she warned, she hasn't participated in polemics or answered either her supporters or her detractors. And up till December 11 when publication was announced she compelled her publisher to maintain an absolute silence. She argued that she would not appeal to curiosity or feed impatience - and this fits with her nature. For years it has been well known that 'la Fallaci' doesn't answer the phone. She doesn't even have a message machine. To get in touch, her friends have to submit to a complicated system by which each friend corresponds to a certain number of rings. Then she calls back, actually, though, not without often having miscounted rings and picked the wrong person to call. She rarely opens her mail. Once, she realized a good eight months late that an unopened envelope contained a large refund of US taxes. She writes, and doesn't publish. For a good ten years no new text of hers has been available. These are indeed her habits; but there is always the unexpected moment when she breaks her bitter silence with a bang - and comes out of her self-imposed exile. And people react as if every night she had been on a stage or on TV. No one, during this silence, this self-imposed exile, has forgotten her. Everyone has continued to follow her, speak of her, write about her, dedicate covers, newspaper headlines and commentaries on television to her - expressions of homage that have only made her hide more than ever. In fact, she never appears on television, never participates in debates that concern her. She does no bookstore signings and, most remarkable, never responds to attacks. At most she appoints lawyers to pursue a few lawsuits.
Despite all this her books continue to be sold. More than best-sellers, they are long-sellers. Her Vietnam war book, which appeared in 1969, Nothing and So Be It, still sells, and well. Letter to a Child Never Born, which appeared in 1975, is now a classic worldwide. In the last twenty-two years she has received literally dozens of requests to make films from these. But no one has succeeded yet, for she is as demanding of others as she is of herself, not someone money can buy and indeed a person who despises money. As for her novel, Inshallah, which centers on the conflict between the western and Islamic worlds, since the tragedy of September 11 it has become one of the fastest selling of all books.
Those whom she calls the "cicadas" ("Don't ask me their names. You see them every day on television; you read them every day in the newspapers") continue to attack her. The people, on the contrary, love her. This difference is significant and in it is reflected the diminished nature of our national identity.
To understand her today is to understand also the extent of this incredible success of hers.
To speak of her is synonymous with war. War is a fulcrum of her identity as a writer and journalist. We'll come to this very soon - indeed, we'll deal with it at length. But now let's stop at the point where, among the chatting of friends, we come to weigh the past. We are talking about ourselves, about ourselves and about her. Things are appraised and told. In every young woman journalist of the last thirty years, and perhaps in every emancipated young woman, there's a little something of the pigtails of Oriana who, fleeing Vietcong fire, ran with bowed head across the bridge of Kien-Ho. There's something of those pigtails or of that perfect parting of long, smooth, straight hair. At a period when women wore bouffant hairdos and little pillbox hats and alternated miniskirts with Chanel, 'la Fallaci' was a model for those who eschewed short skirts and hair pins and contrived chic - for emancipated women of the generation following hers who went to war as mothers, wives, professionals, workers adopting her style of low heels and pants and no makeup. (We could actually have a whole other discussion of the perversity of imitation. It's not enough to copy a way of combing hair or dressing to become 'la Fallaci.' You have to have her culture, her class, her formative experiences and her courage to become 'la Fallaci' - and finally, above all, you have to have her intelligence, her personality, and her iron will.)
That style adopted out of convenience was nonetheless glamorous and not at all careless or unsexy. That clean face, forever marked by precocious lines of tension and fatigue, was one of the visages upon which, in the Sixties and Seventies, the apex of American glamour was constructed.
This was a glamour captured, for example, in the book Women by the celebrated photographer Francesco Scavullo, who included 'la Fallaci' in his list of the forty-six most fascinating and extraordinary women in the world. "I'm not the kind of person who accepts rules just because they're rules," 'la Fallaci' declared to Scavullo. She meant the rules of style and beauty, but her line encapsulated a little declaration of independence with makeup as metaphor, and it was an assertion that very well suited the hungry daughters of the next generation.
She thus became the epitome of the modern woman. It's hard to imagine a more modern woman than she who from her earliest years led what she called "a man's life" (being a war correspondent was only one aspect of her modernity). Her refusal to follow style was itself modern, for example. She wore pants when in America a woman wearing pants could not enter a public place. "Do you know how many restaurants refused to admit me because I wore pants?" But when pants became regular women's apparel, eternal contrarian that she was she took up dresses and hats. Modern also is her dictating fashion without intending to, as is her eccentric way with eyeliner. "I do it very fast, tac tac tac," she told Scavullo. Scavullo described the effect: "Two firm wide lines which she puts on herself and which exaggerate her astonishing oriental eyes. Those two lines have become her signature." It's a signature that marks her face still today. Over the years she has kept the face of the Oriana who ran across the Kien-Hoa bridge, and even the little thin body, and that mobile expression, that imperious hitching up of the shoulders, which is another of her physical characteristics. The way she combs her hair has changed, though. The long, smooth, straight hair today is tied back at the nape of the neck. This isn't flattering and she knows it, but she ties it back that way on purpose. "It's the way eighteenth century gentlemen from Jefferson to Robespierre wore their hair. It's neat, convenient and can be finished off with a little bow. I like it that way. My grandmother said, 'If I don't please you, don't let it bother you, just turn the other way.'" As for the oriental eyes, they have more lines, obviously - lines which she wouldn't part with, she insists, defending them with pride. "They're my medals."
Cowards on one hand, brave people on the other: a drastic distinction, it's the foundation of 'la Fallaci's' judgments. She makes an almost maniacal cult of courage. "Courage" along with "fear" is the word she utters most often. In their opposition they are themes without subtle distinctions. It's no coincidence that one of her models is Jack London, a writer beloved of the young. She speaks at length of Jack London in the preface she wrote for the Bur edition of The Call of the Wild. In Jack London as journalist, war correspondent, novelist, and adventurer she sees herself deeply reflected. As an adolescent, she confided during our long day together, she used to say "I'd like to become Jacqueline London."
The surest definition she can give of herself consequently is that of Soldier. "I am a soldier. I've been that since I was a girl when I became a partisan in my antifascist family: a soldier." The connection between Oriana and war goes back to that - to her own life history. (For the contribution that she made to the struggle against nazi- fascists when hardly fourteen, General Alexander, Commander in Chief of the Allied Forces in Italy during World War II, sent her a laudatory letter of thanks.) "There is a depressing intimacy," she said, giving weight to the word "depressing," "between me and arms, me and explosions, me and fear and courage and death. War, in sum. God knows, alas, how sincere is the cry I uttered against the sons of Allah in my little book: "In war I was born, in war I grew up, I understand war better than you do. And I have more balls than you do who to find the courage to die must kill thousands of creatures. You've wanted war, you want war? As far as I'm concerned, let there be war. Until the last breath."
Her dispatches from Vietnam were so perfect precisely because of this. In its notable series of books on Vietnam, Time magazine has also included many of her articles from the front - a rare homage from a country that saw in Vietnam the best of her journalism in action. Her being a soldier herself leads her to respect all soldiers. Even those of al-Qa'ida who as we speak are sustaining American bombardments at Tora Bora. All of a sudden she turns the television back on. Instead of the confession tape the screen is transmitting images of those bombardments. She looks at them and as she comments on them her voice is no longer that furious, rough, grieving one when she listened to the giggles of bin Laden. It's a respectful voice: "Certainly among them there are aspiring kamikazes. But at this moment they're not dying by killing thousands of creatures: they're dying in combat. As soldiers. In this moment I respect them. So I salute them." Then she explains how much she despises the Taliban who fled or who gave themselves up without fighting. And she includes another surprising judgment: "There is a very great difference between the Italian soldiers who gave themselves up to the Germans on September 8, 1943 and the Germans who defended Berlin till the last man in 1945." And when we express our astonishment: "Of course I have respect for the defense of Berlin! Of course I have respect for the al- Qa'ida at Tora Bora! There is heroism in their resistance! Can one perhaps deny the heroism of our enemies? To deny that would mean to become fanatics like them."
From the soldier she gets her discipline. "My discipline, or rather self-discipline, is of military stamp: I recognize that. It's not an accident that in Vietnam I was willingly accepted by the American soldiers because I never allowed myself to bring harm to the platoon or company with infractions or personal initiatives. I conducted myself just like a soldier among soldiers. However, this discipline, or rather self-discipline, isn't something I follow only in war. I follow it in peace, in my private life, and above all in work. When I write for example. In order to write I don't await so called inspiration. If I'm not in some hospital or library or archive, every morning I go to the desk. I go to work like a factory worker or an employee who punches a time clock." This discipline of hers is so military that it becomes legitimate to ask oneself if she knows how to live without war, if she is capable of keeping her distance from wars. This, while the images of Tora Bora still flicker on the screen, is what we tell her. And like a good soldier, half embarrassed and half reticent, she admits it. "Alas, your suspicion contains an element of truth. And the reason can be found, I think, in the life I've led. It's because of the life I've led, I believe, that war is my continual point of reference - that I see everything in terms of peace and war. Unappealing, wouldn't you say? Well, then, let's tell the whole truth...I have spoken of a depressing intimacy. I should also acknowledge a depressing sympathy. From whence comes that sympathy? Look. Here. Look...War is the challenge of challenges, because it's a challenge that you demand of yourself. When you take action to participate in combat or when you're in combat, no one looks after you; no one looks at you. You're completely alone with yourself, the judge of yourself. Thus it is to yourself that the challenge is made to go forward, to conquer fear, to remain alive...And to yourself, finally, that you must not look bad. Because you can't lie to yourself or carry out deceptions. And...look: committed as I was to condemn war, I've always recounted the horrors of war - and stopped there. I've never had the strength to confess the dark fascination, the perverse seductiveness, that war exerts or is capable of exerting upon anyone who finds himself in it. It's a seduction, God forgive me, that's born of its vitality - the vitality precisely of that challenge. Let's say it once and for all, head covered with ashes, but once and for all: I've never felt so alive as when, having won the challenge to myself, I've come out alive from combat or from war."
Seductiveness. The word has been spoken. And now she speaks of fear: "Anyone who says he isn't afraid in war is a fool or a liar. And note well: all the fools and liars who say they haven't been afraid in war were, and are, those who follow wars from a comfortable hotel room. I've never encountered them at the front. Look, in war you're always afraid. Any soldier, of any race or nation, will tell you that. He'll also tell you that every time is the first time, and every time is worse than the time before. Because every time he knows more, is more aware of the risk. However, the point isn't to be afraid but to overcome fear, to act in the face of fear, and war has taught me this."
A little indiscretion (will we forgive her?): "I have always said that, once dead, they can do what they want with my body - for example, use it as manure for an olive tree. But I'm not so sure about that... All in all, I wouldn't mind being buried with military honors. You know, the ones where the flag waves under the sun, the cannon fires into the air, and the trumpet goes paparapa( paparapa("...and all at once she explodes in happy laughter, enjoying herself.
She declares that she writes slowly and has for years been working on a grand novel that she claims to want to have published posthumously, but she wrote Rage and Pride in two months. She is ill with a cancer which weakens and consumes her, but she appears to burst with driving energy and works as if she were in good health. She says she is in exile from a country she loves passionately and is more involved in Italian events than anyone in Italy. She is pitiless in anger, and yet can be inexplicably restrained and sweetly affectionate. Her generous impulses have the same intensity as her reprisals and either can arrive unexpectedly.
These are all signs of an unbridled passion that can carry her to total immoderation in all things and pull her to heights and depths of emotion following world events. As last evening in front of the television screen when the bin Laden tape confession was broadcast. And as today when she says "In Rage and Pride I hold that bin Laden is only the present tip of the iceberg - the part of the mountain that emerges from the abysses of his own blindness, which since fourteen hundred has been able to produce only religion. I hold that the real protagonist in this Holy War is not he: it is that mountain. And I repeat that now. But I cannot deny, no one can deny, that bin Laden is a major personality. He is to the same degree that Khomeini was, and you know why? Because, despite his perfidy and despicableness, he, like Khomeini, was born out of passion. Made of passion. We no longer have personalities made of passion, born out of passion. To find those you have to go back to our past. To Saint Francis, to Saint Teresa, to Torquemada himself. To Danton, Marat, Robespierre. To Napoleon, Nelson, Mazzini, Garibaldi, Cavour. To Lenin, Stalin, to Churchill who promised to fight Hitler with "tears and blood." To Mao Tze Tung, Ho Chi Minh. There I will stop, because for half a century the West in the field of leaders has had only mediocrities. Bastards or half-pints with little more than the name of leader. The only personality the West has produced during the last half century is Karol Wojtyla. A man of faith, a man of the church. For the rest, even in art, music, painting, poetry, aside from Picasso we have had nothing but mediocrities. You know why? Because we've lost our passion. Because we've replaced passion with rationalism. Worse: with hedonism, the cult of the commodity, with softness. And with a badly interpreted concept of equality that appeases, levels, extinguishes genius and personality. With these it extinguishes art, it extinguishes poetry. Poetry. Tell me: where is art this last half century? Where is poetry? We've got science and nothing more, technology and nothing more, comfort and nothing more. You can't live without passion. You can't even fight or defend yourself without passion. Well, I don't know how to live without passion. I don't know how to fight or to defend myself without passion. Everything I do, I do out of passion and for the sake of passion. Out of passion I write, out of passion I get mad, out of passion I rant, and with passion I fight. And, by God, my little book springs forth from passion. I'm sure that the Italians read it, listen to what I say, not only because I speak the truth but because I speak it with passion."
How can one find fault with her? Yesterday Sofia Loren, her friend Sofia, called her from Los Angeles, using the secret predetermined ring. With her bubbling voice, full of life, she said "How beautiful your book is, my Oriana, how lovely! It seems written with the wisdom of a hundred-and-fifty- year-old and the passion of an eighteen-year-old."
She describes herself as "an antique lady," meaning "a woman in the antique style." The brownstone where she lives in New York is antique (mid-nineteenth century) and furnished in the antique style: furniture, lamps, shades, paintings, ceramics, knickknacks, even the telephones. Her place in Florence and her house in Tuscany are similar. Everything she collects is antique, beginning with the books - seventeenth century, eighteenth century, nineteenth century volumes of Boccaccio, Ariosto, Torquato Tasso, Shakespeare in all possible editions, histories of the French revolution, the Napoleonic campaigns, the Italian risorgimento, Mazzini, Garibaldi, Cavour. But it is not a twilight closure that dictates these choices: it is another one of her passions, the passion for the past, about which, moreover, she has written a lovely passage in Rage and Pride. "For me every object from the past is sacred. A fossil, a shard, a small coin, whatever testimony of that which we were and of that which we made. The past intrigues me more than the future. I shall never tire of asserting that the future is a hypothesis, a conjecture, a supposition: that is, a non- reality. At most, it is a hope to which we try to give shape through dreams and fantasies about it. The past, on the other hand, is a certainty, a concrete thing, an established reality - a school which one cannot disregard because if one does not know the past one does not understand the present and cannot try to influence the future with dreams and fantasies. And every object that has survived from the past is precious because it carries within it an illusion of eternity, because it represents a victory over time, which wears down and withers away and kills. A defiance of death."
She is a severe lady. She dresses severely. Her present uniform is a skirt (only occasionally pants) and sweater. Of cotton in summer, wool in winter, in all possible colors running the gamut of severity Low heeled shoes. To liven up the new uniform, a little old jewelry. As we've said, her hair is combed severely, without coiffure. The "look" she produces is indeed elegant and impeccable but almost monastic. She lives severely, without luxuries and, in their place, with Spartan habits. With severity she despises money, this too has been said, and judges with severity. She punishes with severity and, if necessary, punishes herself. With severity she refuses almost all the conveniences that modern technology offers our world. For starters: the computer. She has never possessed one. And woe to you if you offer her one, if you try to make her a present of one. She uses the same old manual Olivetti that she used in Vietnam. It's wearing out now and is almost unusable. To avoid using new and modern machines she has learned by herself how to keep it together with plastering supplies from a dentist's office. Like a violinist who plays only on his own violin, she can write only on this machine. She has actually said she can't write on a silent machine. "If I don't hear it clacking, the words don't come to me - thoughts don't even come to me." In place of silent machines, in place of computers, an almost scandalous number of typewriters from the early twentieth century. She collects them like authorial souvenirs.
Someone accuses her of playing Greta Garbo. But she's not offended, because she notes that the comparison is legitimate. Greta Garbo too led a severe and retiring life. Greta Garbo too dressed and wore her hair in a severe manner. Greta Garbo too surrounded herself with objects from the past. And until her death Greta Garbo lived not far from where she now lives, in this small circuit of elegant streets in midtown Manhattan. Many years ago their paths crossed at an exclusive little grocery shop on Fifty-seventh street, Dover Delicacies. One evening, she tells us with a gentle smile, they ran into each other right in front of the shop entrance. She was still very young then. Garbo was already old. She had her little steak, Garbo a chicken. It was raining. She hadn't an umbrella; Garbo had one. In silence, Garbo accompanied her to the door of her building. ("And you didn't ask her for an interview?" "Oh, no, of course not! I knew she didn't grant them." "And how did the two of you part?" "I said 'Thank you, madam, how sweet of you.' And she answered 'You're welcome, Miss Fallaci. Have a good night.'")
In a world that lives by publicity, she eschews it. And she does so because she detests it - in every form and every aspect. Twenty or thirty years ago it was not hard to persuade her to do what the publishers came to define as promotion; that is, to participate in the launching of one of her books with interviews, television appearances, and so on. Then this gradually became more and more difficult. Now it's impossible, most emphatically so. And it follows that this is due to the hostile attitude almost all journalists have adopted toward her, as we shall see. In large part, however, it's due to her own character, or rather to her sincere need for privacy, a need that respects the privacy of others, and that's dealt with in another fine passage in Rage and Pride, the passage dealing with her embarrassment in the company of Golda Meir when the latter told her marital secrets and Ali Bhutto when he confessed the drama of his wedding night and then thought better of it and begged her not to write about it. She did write nothing about it, and years later the two met again by chance. They began talking about the Islamic world and Bhutto said "I was wrong to ask you not to write that story. One day you'll have to tell the whole thing." And in this book she tells it concluding, "There is Bhutto. Wherever she may be - let's not worry if she's nowhere but under the ground - I've kept my promise to her."
This shows a character that she confirms by saying "I was and am the friend of some very famous people but I've never, never betrayed them by gossiping. I've never, never revealed things they've said during dinner or while we were walking in the street. Two of these friends, both dead of cancer, I loved very much. One was Ingrid Bergman, the other Maria Callas. And if God existed He would bear witness that I never, never, never told of their private doings - doings I knew about as well as they knew about mine. One evening here in New York I happened to see a long program about Callas. My immediate thought was 'Oh God, poor Maria! What will they start going on about, those gossips, to show that they knew her well?' Well, one told anecdotes so intimate that - I was eating - I took my plate and threw it on the floor. In the case of Bergman, to whom I was perhaps closer than to Callas, ditto. I see her daughter Isabella often. She lives in New York not far from my house and she's almost like family to me. But I haven't told even her about the things her mother told me."
In these ten years in which her self-exile, her silence, has crystallized, requests for interviews have regularly arrived from all over the world. And in the past two months, since the publication of the article that carries the same title as the book, the demand for interviews has grown beyond bounds. But not once has she given in. "And if I think about what you'll do after this meeting, it gives me the shivers. I wonder what came over me to meet with you again and give in to the frigging recorder. . .I never recognize myself in the things other people write about me. When I see an article about me I feel I'm reading something about an unknown person, a stranger. Interviews I detest, because they always assign me things I haven't said, or else they distort and twist things so much that the meaning is changed. This has always filled me with annoyance because, as you know, interviews are a subject I know something about. Journalism based on interviews is my invention. My own interviews have always been so rigorously precise and correct. I've never betrayed anyone. Even dealing with a person I hated and did not respect, I was careful to report faithfully whatever this or that person told me. No one has ever been able to accuse me of having inserted a distortion or lie in their responses. For several hours Kissinger tried to accuse me of that, and finally he had to eat his accusatory words. Others, however. . .And apropos of the very, very unappealing Kissinger: it's he who has written lies about me, because in his book The White House Years, a book moreover in which he claims he met me to 'appear in my Pantheon of world figures,' he expounds upon an interview that I never carried out or even requested - one with the north Vietnamese Le Duc Tho. It was no accident that after his book was published I sent word to him that even as a historian he wasn't worth beans. What kind of historian is one who recounts things that never happened? Yes, indeed, he too has contributed to the fact that I trust no one any more. I don't give interviews because I don't trust the people who do them. And you'd better be careful. You'd better watch out if you transform this three-way conversation into an interview."
It was the publication of Inshallah that signaled her definitive farewell to promotion. She appeared in France, Germany, Sweden, Holland, Spain, and America, but - except for Paris, where Francoise Sagan convinced her to take part in a television broadcast with her - not to grant interviews. In each of those countries, in fact, she limited herself to reading pages from the novel. At times her refusals caused displeasure to herself because of those she refused. At that time she was, for instance, displeased to refuse Bruno Vespa and Enrico Mentana. "They had always been so nice to me, so generous. To say no to them was like a thorn in my heart. But I couldn't face exhibiting myself on television. It makes me suffer anguish, I'm so uncomfortable. You tell them - Vespa and Mentana - that they shouldn't take offense, that my refusal wasn't directed at them and that I was very sorry to disappoint them." And then: "But how can you two always appear on television? Doesn't it make you uncomfortable and upset you? Look, at this point in my life I only would appear on television as a war correspondent. At the front, you understand. Not behind the lines where it gives you the feeling of running unlimited risks but you're seeing explosions from at least five kilometers away."
You see, everything about her life seems to be known. And her way of writing, almost always in the first person, favors this misunderstanding. But what she tells about herself when she talks about herself is in reality a way of hiding herself, of distracting attention, of smuggling in an almost maniacal sense of privacy. As for the things others tell about her, often, indeed almost always, they are completely invented or altered by the fabrications of someone who doesn't know her. Except for the case of Alexander Panagoulis, in fact, her sentimental journey is completely unknown. Except for her profession, her way of living is unknown. Her tastes, her habits, her idiosyncrasies: unknown. And even if we are her friends, listening to her we always end up surprised. About her, in reality, one knows very little.
She is one of those few Italians of today known throughout the world. When she went to Qom (the sacred city of Iranian Shiites) to interview Khomeini, she necessarily had to walk the streets with her face half covered by a chador, but a group of Iranian students recognized her by her terrifying eyes. They ran up to her yelling "Fallatzi, Fallatzi!" In an Iran where women were worth the same as a camel, she was, finally, valued like a man. A few years ago she went to China on a private trip. When she arrived in Peking the airport was swarming with cameramen and photographers. "Oh my God, an important person must have arrived. You'll see how long it's going to take to get through customs," she said to her sister, Paola, who was traveling with her. "Couldn't you be the important person?" Paola answered. And she said, "Don't talk nonsense." Actually in fact she was the important person. And in the hurly-burly, she says, she even lost her hat. (More often one imagines her with a helmet on. But her elegance includes hats. Sophisticated women's hats, not soldiers'.) There are even boy scout associations named after Oriana Fallaci in China. And in China also she received a homage not granted even to her enemy Kissinger, who had sought it: giving a lecture in the exclusive Great Hall of the Academy of the Sciences, a Great Hall packed with notables. Young people who had come in special tour busses from neighboring cities had to hear her on loudspeakers in other halls or outside the building. And so, she gave a very challenging speech.
In 1981 students of Harvard Law School protested that the commencement speech should be given not by General Haig, then Secretary of State and already the commencement speaker officially designated by the university, but by 'La Fallaci.' She gave the speech, and they're still talking about it at Harvard. In the same years in Belgrade the theater (packed with people) in which she was presenting A Man, was stormed by the crowd pushed back by firemen who for security reasons were not allowing more people to enter. A venerable American academic institution, Boston University, for forty years has had an "Oriana Fallaci Special Collection" dedicated to her in which are gathered all her manuscripts, all the translations of her books, and all the materials related to her work. In America she has received prestigious honorary degrees. In the Library of Congress History of Illustrious Italians there are only two photographs of celebrated Italian women: Eleanora Duse and Oriana Fallaci. The caption states: "Her writings have carried political journalism to a new level. Her interviews with leaders and powerful figures of the world are astonishing both for their fearlessness and for their probing intelligence."
But in Italy, where honorary degrees are also given to foreign journalists: nothing. No honor, no recognition has ever come to her from her beloved patria, nor from her beloved city, Florence. Apart from a few literary prizes, the only homage that has come to her in Italy remains the one General Alexander dedicated to her in 1945 to memorialize her work as a partisan "baby." Far from thanking her for having carried her name as an Italian throughout the world, Italy has been no mother to her - not even a wicked stepmother. For decades the overwhelming majority of our newspapers have dumped a pile of calumnies and insults upon her that are as unjustified as they are ridiculous. And she has not forgotten any of them. Even today (and you can see this in Rage and Pride) she can recite them from memory.
When Letter to a Child Never Born was published, a Milan daily printed an article that began with these words, "Ugly, ugly, ugly. Uglier than this is not possible. It will last only for a summer." A Rome daily, another entitled: "The Uterus in the Brain." In Italy the book has now sold over a million and half copies. It has been translated into twenty-one languages and published in thirty-one countries. It has become a modern classic even in Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, and several Arab nations, not to mention India where it is available in several Indic dialects.
A few days before publication of A Man (the novel about the Greek hero Alexander Panagoulis, her life companion for three years - that is, from the moment when he was released from the Boiati prison until the moment when he was killed in a faked auto accident), a Rome daily published a full page article with the title "Why One Should Not Read 'La Fallaci's' Book." The socialist monthly Croniche Sociali dedicated a cover to her photograph, and under the photograph was printed: "Here is the true assassin of Panagoulis." In the article 'La Fallaci' was in fact accused of having made a gift to Panagoulis of the automobile that he was driving at the moment when they killed him...Worse: due to the fact that for security reasons the book was not typeset at the Rizzoli print shop, the then President of the Council ordered the Carabinieri to search every print shop in Italy for the text "suspected of being an anti-government work." It was one of those same Carabinieri officers given this assignment who revealed the affair years later. Worse yet: even this time the book was slashed to ribbons by enemy journalists. But, as in the case of Letter to a Child Never Born, it was an enormous success. Sales were exceptional. Abroad it appeared in the usual thirty-one countries, translated into the usual twenty-one languages, and today it is one of the most loved works that modern Italian literature has produced. Nor is that all. Two months before Inshallah appeared, when the book's title wasn't even yet known, the most famous Rome daily dedicated two whole pages to an attack on it. In this it was said among other things that all her interviews with world heads of state were the product of her imagination. It was as if to say that the meeting with Khomeini had never happened, likewise the one with Ghaddafi, or with Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Deng Xiao Ping, etc., ditto. (The tapes of these interviews, preserved in special containers at a special temperature, are found in the Oriana Fallaci Collection at Boston University). As if this weren't enough, when one of the greatest Italian journalists (Bernardo Valli) separated himself from the chorus to dedicate an article to her describing Inshallah as a masterpiece, he found himself ostracized by the rest of his colleagues.
No, she hasn't forgotten the attacks. And yet she speaks of them with a disdainful detachment. "Don't ask me the motive for this madness: let me ask you that. I only know that every time I was incredulous and exclaimed 'Why?' I belong to no party. I belong to no group, no literary mafia. I never speak ill of anyone. I never insult other people's books. Even if I don't like them, I never say that they are bad. I know all too well the enormous effort of writing a book. Whether it's good or bad, I respect that effort with all my soul. As everyone knows, I lead a retiring life. I never put myself in competition with others. What is it then that disturbs them?"
We answer her with a single word: success. Then she smiles bitterly. "I know that idiots associate success with happiness. With wealth, with privilege, but above all with happiness. Let's take the case of movie stars, much worse abused than I. Idiots abuse them because they think that, besides being rich and privileged, they're happy. But happiness has nothing to do with success, fame, popularity, or wealth. If anything success is almost always a source of unhappiness. I know many people who are successful. I'm the friend of many successful people, and I can assure you that I see much more unhappiness among them than among people who have no success. Once Elizabeth Taylor said that success is a deodorant. Perhaps because I have nothing to deodorize, I'd argue on the contrary that success is a source of much discomfort. You know why? Because it becomes a kind of reproof or even humiliation for those who believe themselves to deserve it but who don't achieve it. This is a phenomenon, please note, that's never observed in simple people. Simple people love successful people. They identify them with their dreams and ambitions. They establish a kind of link with them of imaginary identification - or of out and out gratitude. Envy comes from people who've had some small degree of success themselves, particularly those who belong to the same surroundings and practice the same profession as the envied person. Thus the first ones to envy, then hate, then verbally assault or insult a successful actor or actress are actually actors who've had little or no success. The first ones to envy, then hate, then verbally assault or insult the successful footballer or singer or politician will actually be footballers and singers and politicians who've had little or no success. The first ones to envy, then hate, then verbally assault or insult successful writers are actually writers who've had little or no success. Among non-writers I find many, many, many people who love me. And you want to know the whole truth? That to me is enough. It consoles me, it honors me, and it's enough."
The so-called Italian intelligentsia has never been generous to her. Indeed, they have always been hostile. To become aware of this one has only to leaf through the collection of newspapers and reviews that publish the writings of the official reviewers, the overseers of good and bad, recognized by the intellectual cliques. But to the suspicion that many of the wrongdoings of which she has been attacked if not persecuted derive from her not belonging to a political party or group, or club, or lobby (including the lobbies of the literary mafia), she reacts with minor detachment. This time in answering her voice returns to a rough and grieving tone like it had last night when she cursed Bin Laden. At moments it changes almost to a whisper. "Ah, yes. The Italians rarely understand that: independent judgment, the judgment of the citizen who thinks with his own brain and refuses to allow himself to be drawn up into the ideological ranks. They're so used to being lined up in ranks, to being with the Guelfs or the Ghibellines, with the Catholics or the Protestants, the reformists or the counter reformists, the pope or the emperor, the French or the Austrians, the Americans or the Russians, they don't understand someone who doesn't stand with either side and sees the faults of both. Theirs is an centuries-old malady and they aren't yet cured of it. At times I wonder if they'll ever be cured. As everyone knows, I adopted a very precise position against the Vietnam war when I went to Saigon for the first time in 1967. From the front I wrote some very severe things about what I judged to be a senseless conflict. Likewise in 1968. Naturally the communists of that time were very happy with this. The reported excerpts of my reportage with enthusiasm, for example where I described a battle in Dak-To, the village on the edge of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. In their editorials I assumed the role of a heroine and none of them put in doubt what I had written and continued to write. Grateful and seduced, then, the North Vietnamese invited me to Hanoi in 1969: it was a privilege they rarely accorded even to their fellow travelers. With the same eyes, the same ears, the same brain, the same independence of judgment, I then went to Hanoi. And there I saw the most Stalinist, tyrannical, fascist regime I'd ever known since I'd begun the practice of my profession. From this there derived even more severe articles than I had written from Saigon, from South Vietnam. Open, ye Heavens! The communists who had so exulted me assaulted me, insulted me, more than I had ever been assaulted and insulted in my life till that moment. No one attempted an examination of conscience; no one asked himself if the things I'd written from the North were as true as those I'd written from the South. And among their sympathizers and fellow travelers none praised the honesty of this woman who with unaltered candor denounced the wrong she found. The heroine became a reprobate. The respectable person, a delinquent. The truth teller, a liar. And so on. Well, After Rage and Pride, the same thing happened. Thirty-two years have passed, and the same thing is happening. In the article published in the newspaper I spoke little of Cavaliere. I had set aside the little section on him with many others because it was too long and I saved it to put in my little book. Thus after the article many of my admirers were among his followers - just like the communists had done after my first articles from South Vietnam. The ex-communists and so called progressives, on the other hand, lined up against me, going so far as to distort my name to Orjena instead of Oriana and Oriana Bin Laden instead of Oriana Fallaci. Once the little book was out, though, with the little section set aside for Cavaliere, the insults and vulgarities came to me from his followers - exactly what had happened with the communists after my articles from North Vietnam. The most disconcerting thing is the way the language used against me by the right was exactly equal to what had been used by the left. Orjena Fallaci and Oriana Bin Laden in the newspapers of the right became Taliban Fallaci. You see, right and left are really the two sides of the same face - the face of bigotry, of intolerance, of the incapacity to be free and think with one's own brain. Anyone in Italy who doesn't stand on one side or the other, who is neither Guelf nor Ghibelline, automatically becomes a sinner - a heretic to be burned at the stake. The fact is that I'm very proud of being, in that sense, a sinner, a heretic to be burned at the stake. I'm very proud to have no political umbrellas, to belong to no group or club or lobby, to be attacked by both sides. It's the greatest compliment that can be accorded to my honesty. And you want to know the truth? I'm convinced that the Italians who are strangers to groups, clubs, and lobbies of the political mafia are absolutely on my side. What proves it is the number of those who buy and read Rage and Pride.
THE WOMAN OF CULTURE
She is a woman of culture. She has a profound knowledge of history - the history, for example, of the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Italian Risorgimento, the unification of Italy. . .(of Fascism and of World War II she says: "That's stuff I've studied till it's in my bones"). Obviously she knows literary history equally well, and, as a Florentine, has an almost inborn knowledge of the history of art. She loves music and mathematics, and moreover has based the novel Inshallah on mathematics. Culture is, together with politics, an obsession that runs in her veins. A similar obsession ran in the veins of her parents for whom books (laboriously paid for in installments) were really very much a status symbol. It comes to her also from her legendary uncle Bruno, the famous journalist Bruno Fallaci - a very cultured man, Uncle Bruno, for whom she has always nurtured a profound admiration. Her book, indeed, is dedicated both to her parents and to him. The most destructive insult that can be addressed to her is to call her "Ignorant, illiterate, an ass." She charges politicians, intellectuals, and journalists with ignorance. She entered the field of journalism at the age of seventeen; she has dedicated the greater part of her life to it. She has distinguished herself as a journalist, as everyone knows. She recognizes that she owes a great deal to journalism ("It gave me the gifts of adventure, knowledge, experience. And, above all, the exercise of writing journalistically taught me to write"). Despite all this she does not like to be described as a journalist. Twenty years ago she abandoned the profession without regrets. She returned to it only once for a very few months, during the Gulf War - a war in which she participated purely out of curiosity. "I wanted to see a technological war. All I saw was a show for CNN." Of the life she led in working for newspapers she says "I was a writer on loan to journalism." Once someone asked her, "What would you like inscribed on your tombstone?" Without hesitation she answered: "Oriana Fallaci, Writer." She says that she might have practiced many other professions: doctor, classical ballerina, archaeologist, soldier. But she adds: "Even if I had acquired another profession, I'd have ended up being a writer. A writer as well. And particularly a novelist." At sixteen, when she took the final exams at the Liceo Galileo Galilei in Florence, she received the highest honors in Italian due to her knowledge of English and Italian literatures and to the theme she had written about "The Concept of Patria from the Greek Polis Till Today." This she handled in such an audacious manner that the members of the examining board judged it scandalous, but it was so well written that they were forced to give her a 10. And yet she hates to write. "Writing is the most fatiguing profession in the world. I grow tired like a porter, a miner, someone who does heavy manual work." But she can't help writing. When she learned that she had cancer, she didn't ask the oncologist how many years she had left to live, she asked "How many books do I have left to write?
Alien is the name that she gives cancer - a reality of which she says, "I'm convinced that cancer is an intelligent malignity, a creature that thinks. When the big one grabbed me ten years ago I said 'I want to see it.' And two days later I saw it through a microscope. Seen that way, it was only a white stone. Clean, almost graceful. Sectioned, however, it seemed like a crowd of people going mad. You know, that crowd that goes to rock concerts and to audiences with the Pope? There was something in this mass of cells fighting among themselves that made one think of a creature from another planet. Very, very interesting. From then on I named it The Alien and I had a very intense dialogue with it - the same kind of dialogue I might have with Usama Bin Laden if I found myself in intimate circumstances with him. As in the case of Bin Laden, I don't actually know where he's hiding - in what cave, in what region of my body. But I know he's there, I know he wants to kill me, and that he will kill me, and therefore I engage in a dialogue with him. I tell him, 'You're smart, but you're dumb. You're a frigging idiot. You don't understand that you exist because I exist, that to live, you need me. Therefore, if you kill me, you die with me. Isn't it worth it to you to try to coexist with me and let me finish what I have to finish?' My oncologist, who is a woman, thinks that I'm right. She thinks that cancer can be staved off by the brain more than it can by the surgeon or chemotherapy or radiation therapy. However things stand, the fact remains- keeping my fingers crossed - that through this dialogue I've staved if off for some years. I talk with it and I talk about it. I never hide the fact that I have cancer and I think someone who does so is wrong. It's a mistake to think having cancer is shameful or wrong. I find it monstrous that some define it as an 'incurable disease.' Why incurable? It's not true that it's incurable! Of course it can be cured! It's a disease like any other, like viral hepatitis, TB or heart disease. It isn't even the most unpleasant disease, in that it's not contagious. It's actually one of the few non- contagious diseases that exist in the world! And I owe it a lot. Before having The Alien, I took all for granted [given in English]. I mean, everything seemed my due. The sun, the blue sky, the miracle of life... Since I have it I value life more. I value the sun, the blue sky, the rain, the fog, the heat, the cold: Life. Finally, I value the miracle of life. And then I owe to The Alien the fact of having found the courage to write the novel that I'd never had the courage to begin, because I knew how long and difficult it would be - the novel to which I allude in the preface to Rage and Pride. I brought that book back to life. When The Alien attacked me I said, 'Damn it, this is deadly. I've got to get to work right away.'"
She buys cigarettes by the score, fifteen cartons at a time. They deliver them to her in big black plastic bags similar to garbage bags. They are special cigarettes that are available only at Sherman's in New York. A great grandchild of Sherman, the Civil War general. They're called "Virginia Circles," and she alternates the Virginia Circles with "Sigarettellos." In both cases they are cigarettes that resemble little cigars because the paper they are wrapped in is brown. She is absolutely convinced of their therapeutic value. "Smoking," she says, "disinfects the lungs." And woe to anyone who attributes the cancer to the cigarettes. She loses her ancient-lady composure and shouts "This story of cigarettes and smoking is a totally ignorant explanation. The more ignorant a doctor is, the more he attributes diseases to smoking. You've got heart disease? It's the fault of smoking. Got a stomach ache? It's the fault of cancer. Got a callus on your foot, breast cancer or lung cancer? It's the fault of smoking. My mother didn't smoke and she died of cancer. My father didn't smoke and he died of cancer. My sister Nee'ra didn't smoke, and she died of cancer. Uncle Bruno didn't smoke and he died of cancer. My sister Paola never smoked and cancer caught her before it did me. In my house we only die of cancer. And, please note, it came to me last, when only my sister Paola and I were left. Anyway, cigarettes have nothing to do with it. If in my case smoke has anything at all to do with it, it's the smoke I breathed in Kuwait right after the Gulf War. Remember the oil wells Saddam Hussein set fire to? I call it the Story of the Black Cloud. I was with a platoon of marines in the desert, and all of a sudden the wind whipped the tail of the Black Cloud. A dense, muddy, sticky soot descended upon us. We were enveloped in total darkness. We were forced to stop because if we had proceeded blind we would have risked striking mines. We held up for around an hour and a half. And when it was all over we were half dead. We were gathered up and taken to the military hospital where the marines were held in the infirmary. But I was forced to return to Dahran to write the article. I was very unwell in the days that followed, and while I was feeling so unwell I had to interview a high official of the Petroleum Ministry to whom I told the whole story. 'Do you smoke?' he asked me. 'I certainly do,' I answered. 'Well, inside the Black Cloud you breathed the equivalent of ten million cigarettes. From now on you can smoke whatever you want.' A year and a half later, exactly when the 450 marines who had breathed the Black Cloud were being held in various American hospitals, especially the one in Bethesda, I got cancer too. I have to admit that before the operation I made a vow: I promised myself that I would never smoke again. But when I awoke from the anesthetic two of the surgeons who'd operated on me were at the foot of the bed, smoking. 'What!!' I said, dumbfounded. "Ms. Fallaci,' they answered, 'cancer is genetic. Cigarettes have nothing to do with it.' In that case, give me one right now,' I said. I started smoking again right there in bed in the clinic. And I haven't stopped since that day."
Yes, she smokes a lot. But in reality she does so with much caution - without inhaling. More than a desire to smoke, actually, hers is a nervous gesture. A tic. To light a cigarette, lift it to her mouth, hold it between her teeth. The tic becomes anxious in two instances: when she is very tense and when she writes. She cannot separate the act of writing from the motions of smoking. There is a kind of symbiosis between her typing and her smoking, her writing and her smoking. In other words, she uses cigarettes the way in the nineteenth century and early twentieth century certain writers used alcohol. She smokes to write, that is, as they used to get drunk to write. But alcohol is foreign to her. "I've never gotten drunk in my whole life. I don't even know what it's like to get drunk."
She has no fear of old age. On the contrary she likes it, respects it. And she bears it no ill will. "I don't understand the stupid men and women," she says, "who are ashamed of being old and try to appear less old than they are. Men who try to hide bald spots, for example. Women who have plastic surgery or at seventy are horrified by a single white hair. I don't do such silly things and never have. Even though I may now appear younger than the Who's Who says and I may always have, I carry my age with pride and always have. I don't use rejuvenating creams and never have. I don't get plastic surgery and never have. I'm very sorry not to have white hair and am jealous of my sister Paola who, though she's much younger than me, has gray hair. Gray hair is so beautiful. White hair is so chic. Christ, I'd sell my soul to have white, or at least gray, hair, just so even from a distance people could see how old I am. Old age is a victory, a state of good fortune, given that the alternative is the cemetery: isn't that true? Then, quite happily, she says: "Listen to me carefully, you young people. Old age is a splendid season - because it's the season that grants us the gift of complete freedom. In youth I didn't feel really free. I exercised my freedom but I didn't feel really free. The freedom I enjoyed was political, not an inner freedom. Not a psychological freedom. Depriving me of psychological freedom were the tyranny of adults, of teachers, of my own parents, not to mention the tyranny that males exert over females. Complete freedom is something I learned and earned in growing older. But not even in maturity did I feel completely free. I began to feel freer only when the lines became deeper. The deeper they were, the freer I felt, the less I feared the judgments of others, their pretenses, their tyrannies. And at the moment when the lines got where they are now, I felt completely free. Old age is a catharsis. In old age you no longer fear anything or anyone. The only danger is that if you have no moral sense (but I have that to burn) you may believe that you're allowed to do anything - because as an old person you know more, you understand more. You have a full capital of knowledge and experience that in youth you didn't even dream of and that in maturity was only partly available to you...The brain refines itself when you're old, perfects itself. And at the same time, paradoxically, it grows rich with a curiosity that before you didn't have. Because in youth you're presumptuous. You don't know beans and you think you know everything. As an old person, instead, Socratically, you grow aware of knowing too little. You also become conscious of the brevity of life. And with this consciousness comes a great desire to produce what you have not yet produced. Then, primed with a new energy, you seek to leap across that void - quickly, quickly. You study, you read, you produce, without wasting any time. . .I don't even understand someone who retires. Retirement is a renunciation. It's a surrender. Those who retire dry up right away. They think dried up, they walk dried up, they come to be treated as dried up. . .Retirement is suicide. Suicide."
She hasn't committed that suicide - truly she hasn't. She works with such intensity that it's difficult to keep up with her. Ten years ago she went to the Gulf War. This time she didn't go to the war in Afghanistan only because she was writing Rage and Pride. "I'd have had to face the physical problem if I'd gone to Afghanistan, it's true. Not only the problem of age as much as that of illness. The Alien wears you down, believe me. He weakens you, and let's admit it: as old people we can't do the things we could do when we were young. Your body becomes like a car engine that has done too many miles, your two legs don't run any more like they used to, your lungs don't breathe like before and every so often your heart misses a beat. At the Gulf War I had all the necessary experience, by then, to follow a war. But when they told me that to follow the marines in the desert I'd have to commit to carrying a backpack weighing thirty- five kilos, I had a fit. I no longer could, I no longer can, carry thirty-five kilos on my back. You have to give up a certain desert action due to the frigging backpack, the frigging thirty-five kilos. Nonetheless I was among the first to get to Kuwait City. Without a backpack, I was the only one to fly the Iraqi skies in a stratotanker and risk Iraqi antiaircraft. Without a backpack I captured four Iraqi prisoners in the desert - a thing that amused me greatly because old age reinforces the sense of irony - especially irony directed against oneself."
Is she sorry to have set aside any possibility of going to Afghanistan because she was writing Rage and Pride? "Yes and no. More no than yes. Because apart from the fact that the Afghan winter is deadly cold and I can't stand cold, am too thin to stand it and in my whole life have never followed a war in a cold country, besides that I'm fed up with wars seen up close. Classical or technological, when you boil it down they're all the same. Result: you realize that at a certain point you've gotten used to always telling the same story. The same explosions, the same deaths, the same tragedies. In fact after Vietnam, every time I went to a war I felt I was seeing things I'd seen before, writing what I'd written before. So one day I said that's enough: I cannot, I don't want to, and I ought not to, repeat myself any more."
Her last line about old age: "Ah, if old age could only last an eternity. It has a sole defect, this splendid season of life: as we all know, it doesn't last, it ends. About this I completely agree with Anna Magnani. Magnani hated death as much as I do. One day she said to me: "Porca miseria, from the day we're born, it's so unfair that we're going to die."
© Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Panorama, 2002