Too Each His Own
We all know there is consolation in literature - when times are tough, we can fall into another and forget about our present circumstances. Comfort gained from great writing isn’t just a cerebal proposition, but also a physical, albeit temporary, annihilation of every aspect of our life.
With minimal, almost austere, prose, Leaonardo Sciascia took an imaginary world that might amuse him, but finished the story no longer laughing nor being amused. In “Equal Danger”, he throws the reader into a world where truth is an abstract concept, where the judiciary never make mistakes abd politicians play a game of inciting insurrection.
In this unnamed land that Sciascia describes, although he claimed it was never about his native Sicily, a serial killer is mowing down judges in different towns. The killer’s adversary is a detective, who is not trusted by either those above him or below him. Rogas is a police officer but also a ‘man of letters’ - a description that is used disparagingly.
Brought in from a city to a small coastal area, Rogas finds himself locked in a deadly physical and mental game of cat and mouse, where he is the mouse. Unwittingly, he knows too much. He is too intelligent to be a man of the law. He finds himself in absurdist conversations with colleagues and senior ranking officials that prove he is more dangerous to them than the serial killer.
Sciascia wrote in a time which would have seemed unique. the Mafia was prevailing over the Italian state. Its Government was filled with “Cronyism”, nepotism and complacency. And to a greater extent was complicit with the Mafia. A disenfranchised youth were fomenting terror and the wealthy sat aloof, knowing money bought innocence, or if not innocence, then anonymity from their crimes, always maintaining a stranglehold on the levers of power.
I suspect that Sciascia would smile archly that his tale of a make-believe-world would be as salient today as when he wrote it. In life, he was a man of few words, but he might have said, “Too each his own”.