Friday, October 09, 2009


Aldo Buzzi 1910-2009

I was terribly sad to learn that Aldo Buzzi died earlier today in Milan. The news shouldn't have surprised me--he was a very old man, less than a year shy of 100, and he had grown weaker over the last few months. I met him only once, a meeting I described not long ago on this blog. As I said then, it was a privilege to chat with him, a privilege to receive his letters in their spidery, errant, characteristic script. Most of all I felt lucky to have read his work, and to have translated a tiny fraction of it. I will miss him. I will miss, too, the reassuring sensation that he was alive and reasonably well on Via Bassini, still relishing the small things he chronicled so beautifully during his last three decades as a self-described "young writer."

ADDENDUM: The Washington Post has run a lovely and informative obituary by Emily Langer. It includes a comment from me (heartfelt, if none too eloquent) and one of the photos Nina took during our visit. I was especially touched by this final paragraph. Six years later, I found his apartment simply furnished but not sparse: it seemed to contain those objects that mattered to Aldo and not much else. Anyway:
As Italian newspapers noted after his death, Mr. Buzzi was appreciated less at home than abroad. A reporter for the Rome-based La Repubblica recalled meeting Mr. Buzzi at the author's home in Milan and finding the 91-year-old Buzzi living in unexpectedly sparse surroundings. "This is a house that has been emptied out a little at a time," he told the visitor, "... full of holes, like the memory of an old man."


I'm sorry to hear it, too. I loved your post about him. You wrote about a very old man with such eloquence, respect, and intense interest in his ideas. It was very moving and vivid.

I'm sorry for your loss and ours.
Thanks for the kind words, Anne. Have you read any of Aldo's books? I think you would adore them--he was a comic miniaturist with a fondness for (as he wrote) almost everything, especially food, landscape, history, prose, film, and more food.
I tried to send this yesterday so excuse me if you already got it. I was so sad to learn this news, right after having read your piece about your visit in '07. After reading his books, it was indeed reassuring to think of him alive and well, a friend one would never meet. We know so few people who have heard of him that there's hardly anyone with whom to share our sadness. Thanks for helping to bring him to life for us.
Virginia Fleet
Guilford, VT
Thanks so much for your comment, Virginia. Aldo wasn't as well known in the U.S. as he should have been--even in Italy, I gather he was something of a minority taste--but that matters not one bit. Art is not a popularity contest. He was an extraordinary man and a marvelous writer and I share your sadness at his departure. I love the thought of people reading his books: anywhere, anytime.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?