Grazia Deledda in “Hexa-reading”.

Gabriella Papini

A single equivalent language for loving Sardinia.

Perhaps, this is the way she would most appreciated to be remembered. Yes, more than 80 years since her demise, Grazia Deledda has been celebrated in many ways: with the usual conferences, recitals of excerpts from her works, meetings on her role as a writer, journalist and, above all, forerunner of the role of women in society and culture. She is the only Italian woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1926. At the beginning of June, the Grazia Deledda Project in “Hexa-Reading” stopped off at the Omero Museum in Ancona, it certainly appears to be one of the most focused. Six different formats to enjoy a text: printed in black on paper, Braille characters, e-book files, formats manageable by vocal synthesis, audio and video, LIS (Italian Sign Language). All in a sort of live enjoying composition and with almost total presence, at the same time, of all these “languages or readings”. The emotion is strong and brings you surprisingly close to the love, attention and beauty for the text. In 2016, this experience of total communication was launched by the UICI (Italian Regional Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired) of Nuoro as leader; now, it is represented through the public reading of two short tales from Racconti Sardi (Sardinian Tales): one tale read aloud by a sighted person from a normal printed text, the other one read aloud by a blind person from Braille; always accompanied by a sign language translation in LIS. So, we want to demonstrate that “anyone who masters a tool for learning culture is able to make reading in a perfectly equivalent way”. With a certain shyness (usually, not congenial to me), I witnessed and followed a fantastic and unexpected evening. After more than a month, I can’t explain why I was moved by so much curiosity as well as, later, I was charmed and touched. For years, I have been learning the various ways for reading a text and my assiduous attendance at the Omero Museum allows me to be sure that a fundamental philosophy governs everything. And not from today. But, entering the Museum conference room, between those stone walls, throwing myself among a not huge but however large and, above all, very mindful audience, affected me deeply. I thought of her, the little big woman, of her difficult and suffered life, her ability to pass on to us not only the love for her Sardinia, but the strength and energy of her literary production. After all, despite the Nobel prize and an old but qualitatively excellent television drama, not many Italians read Deledda’s works. And this bringing her back to the fore with this “hexa-reading” seemed to me the best way to thank a woman who filled every gesture, written line, often tragic passage of her existence with meanings, values, authentic passions. Suddenly, listening to the two short tales, one read from normal text printed in black on paper by Filippina Farris and the other read from Braille text by Gianna Corria, both translated in sign language by Roberta Ascani, even the memory of her face was transformed, softening until changing the usual vaguely frowning expression into a sort of a complacency smile. Yes, we were listening to her, we were loving her, as we must love all people who gave us so much and, perhaps, we didn’t restore enough. A Nobel prize is not enough for a person who taught women  to stop putting limits on themselves. From an almost self-taught person to Nobel prize: a natural path for her! With the collaboration of the UICI of Ancona, the event obtained feedback and participation as well as the presence of the Presidents of the UICI of Nuoro and of the Sardinia Region, respectively Giovanni Marongiu and Pietro Manca, they underlined the reasons for the choice of this cultural initiative, the attention they have found in the various cities.

These positive results certainly lead us to continue promoting the diffusion of the various and specific readings because communication is a huge area still to be worked on. Marongiu, the President of the UICI of Nuoro, declares: “The ‘hexa-reading’ is a powerful tool for witnessing social inclusion through literature. With the beauty of her works, Grazia Deledda also becomes the vehicle to reiterate that Braille and LIS are indispensable tools for guaranteeing access and spread of culture”.

 Improperly defined as self-taught, Deledda was truly bilingual. Sardinian is a language and not an Italian dialect. For years, for her Italian was a foreign language to learn. Leaving aside anecdotes, and a large critical literature, even authoritative in this regard, it is evident all her production reveals the Sardinian matrix not only for themes and characters, but also for form, style, gait and rhythm. She did a linguistic anthropological operation: not a translation, but an Italian with strong and sudden passages, she traveled a courageous literary journey with effort and humility, until obtaining the Nobel prize, and it is important to remember the motivation: “For her power as a writer, sustained by a lofty ideal, which portrays the life on her native secluded island with plastic clarity picture and deals with general human problems with depth and sympathy”.

from “Racconti sardi” (Sardinian Tales)
Macchiette (Caricatures), chapter V

Far away, the clouds rise from the mother-of-pearl sea subtly brushed on the far horizon, they rise slowly on the tinsel sky of the full moon, blue and diaphanous on the white background of infinity.

On the tops of the high rocky mountains, the snow draws an iridescent profile, marble phantasmagoria and gold miniatures worthy of Heine’s verses, but the ancient oaks quiver in the North wind whispering gloomy legends and bloody tales whistling among the craggy gorges and the granite caves. The very hard path passes through huge cliffs and black boulders that take on the fantastic shapes of ruined Gothic towers and dolmens covered with grass and crystals, made more dangerous and picturesque by the light of the night. Under the wood, the rays of the moon rain down in beams, like sprays of diamonds, casting golden arabesques and oriental damascenes upon the blond ferns wavy by the wind through the brown oaks the moonlit sky looks so enchanted with its jeweled splendor that it calls to mind the impossible skies of fairy tales; and the cyclamen, the mullein, the usnea of the trunks impregnate the air with a sharp tropical forest scent.

Sitting under a cliff, insensitive to the wind whistling in the clear full moon sky, he watches the sheep grazing in the clear night, focused on their monotonous and melancholic tinkling vibrating among the grassy ravines and mossy stones, among the wild heather and the trunks uprooted by the storm.

The young shepherd is ugly, his face dark as the orbace of his ironsmith, but in his dark blue-white auburn eyes and the iris full of a profound languor, a thoughtful ray shines, it is a clear revelation: perhaps the young shepherd is already a poet and inside his mind, virgin and wild like the rocky mountains on which his lonely days flow, he enjoys, more than any cultured and refined artist, the ineffable poetry full of superhuman and spiritual voluptuousness; of the blue silence of the high full moon night.