“My problem, my central problem, is I can’t sleep. . .”
By turns comic and poignant, brutal and beautiful, Sleep follows an insomniac’s long journey to the light through a night of tormenting memories and lucid drunken speculation. A sequence of bizarre encounters with other lonely and despicable denizens of the night leads him to recover some meaning to his life: release from his dead mother’s incapacity for love, his yearning for ‘the first whore’, for ‘the unknown house’, for sleep. . .
Michele Spina was born in Messina (Sicily) in 1923. Writer, thinker and teacher, a man of vivid and inspiring intellect he lived almost thirty years in England, in willing exile from his loved and hated Italy (Brobdingnag or the Land of the Houyhnhnms’). His first book to appear in English was West of the Moon (Peter Owen, 1994) Night and Other Short Stories (Colin Smythe) appeared in 1998. Sleep, his finest and most personal work, was completed in London in 1990, shortly before his death.
NIGHT is a collection of stories written between 1946 and 1990 about characters who live in small towns and communities, in different periods before our post-industrial era. All of them have to face crises of values not dissimilar in nature to the crises in our own society, which is indifferent to everything that is unique and alive. As a result they are pushed to the edges of their society or outside it, in a world that is very bleak indeed. This is the world of these dark stories.
The author relentlessly forces the reader to face reality, and to become aware of the limits of our ability to illuminate and control its pitiless crudity. The stoical, unflinching attitude in the voice of the narrator and his ferocious black humour cast away any illusion that the main purpose of literature is to be consoling or entertaining.
Night has an Introduction by Professor Giuseppe Serpillo of Sassari University, Italy, and a Postface by Giovanna Aquilecchia, Emeritus Professor of Italian Literature, University of London.
Michele Spina (1923-1990) published fiction and essays on aesthetics in Italian, English and American journals. Born in Messina, he settled in England where he lectured in Art History and Theories of Art at Sunderland and Leeds Polytechnics. His Passo Doppio was published in 1981, and Ann Colcord’s English translation of his A Occidente della Luna: West of the Moon was published by Peter Owen in 1994, and shortlisted for the Florio Prize in 1997.
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