By Martina - Friday, September 16, 2016

Those who are not avid readers are often put off by big books... To me that sort of happens with short books. It's almost as if a part of me thought that a short book is too small to contain a proper story, that it must be too brief and lack in descriptions or something else.

I think that's one of the reasons that, at first, made me feel like I didn't want to read Novecento.

One day my boyfriend bought this book while we were out grocery shopping. I remember him picking it up and being all curious about it, but when he passed it to me I noticed that it was a tiny book, that the author was Italian (I'm not a big fan of Italian contemporary literature, though I know it's wrong to have such prejudices) and that it wasn't even a novel, but a monologue. The only thing I liked from the start was the cover. I also remember feeling surprised when I found out that this book had been written in 1994, the year I was born. But that was pretty much it.

Later on I happened to read some paragraphs of that book at university, but the thing that made me fall in love with the plot - and therefore change my mind completely - was the film.

Last July I went on a short holiday with some of my best friends, and one of them brought some films to watch at night. Another friend suggested we watched this film called "The Legend of 1900" because she'd already seen it and found it truly beautiful. We trusted her opinion and went on watching it. It took me just a couple of scenes to realise it was inspired by Novecento.

I loved the film from the very first scene and I actually think it's one of my favourite films ever. There are many details that I loved, like the dreamy combination of colours in all the scenes, the characters, the talented actors, the unlikelihood of the events, the soundtrack and the deep meaning of the story itself. It's one of those films where you could easily write down every single line of the script and quote it in your journal or your blog or hang it on the wall.

Being a lover of travels, a wannabe migrant (if I can say so) and being really interested in all the stories documenting the European migrations to the US between the 18th and the 19th Century, one of the parts I loved the most is the following.

"It happened every time. Someone would look up, and see her. It's difficult to understand. There'd be more people than a thousand of us on that ship, travelling rich folks, immigrants, and strange people, and us; yet there was always one, one guy alone, who would see her first. Maybe he was just sitting there eating, or walking on the deck, maybe he was just fixing his pants. He'd look up for a second, a quick glance out to sea, and he'd see her. Then he'd just stand there, rooted to the spot, his heart racing. And every time, every damn time I swear, he'd turn to us, towards the ship, towards everybody, and scream: America!"
"The one who sees America first. There's one on every ship. And don't be thinking that's an accident, there's some optical illusion. It's destiny. Those are people who always had that precise instant stamped on their life. And when they were kids you could look into their eyes and, if you looked carefully enough, you'd already see her: America."

This film is so timeless that while you're watching it you barely notice how old it actually is (it's been released in 1998). It's also a good chance to appreciate some of the most famous Italians in the contemporary film industry - Giuseppe Tornatore and Ennio Morricone.

Some days ago I picked up Novecento from my boyfriend's bookshelf and read it, and I must say I loved it as well. Now I really wish I could see someone performing it as a monologue on a stage, because it's an impressive monologue and because I love theatre.

If you've never heard of this book or film I strongly recommend you read or watch it, I believe it's really worth it. And I think I'll watch it again soon.

Marti xx

2016 Reading Challenge:
  • A book that's under 150 pages
  • A book you can finish in a day
  • A book with a blue cover 

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  1. that's interesting, I heard about it but never have the chance to read it or watch it.
    If you're interesting in migration I suggest you also the movie "Brooklyn", which is about a young irish immigrant and, trust me, it's beautiful! It's both dramatic and romantic ( and I think it won also a BAFTA for "Best British film", I think you're gonne like it ;D

    kisses, vava

    1. I'm really intrigued now, I think I'll watch it soon! I know the main character is played by Saoirse Ronan and I love her as an actress, so that's a bonus :)

      Marti xx