Leonardo Sciascia Biography

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(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Leonardo Sciascia was born on January 8, 1921, in Racalmuto, Sicily, the son of a sulfur miner. Completing his schooling at the Istituto Magistrale in Caltanissetta, he began teaching at an elementary school there in 1949; his first book, Favole della dittatura, a collection of fables satirizing the Fascists, appeared in 1950. During this period, he also began a career as a journalist and editor, pursued for some time concurrently with his teaching. By the mid-1950’s, Sciascia had published several more books, establishing the pattern for his prolific output. All of his works are informed by his lifelong attachment to Sicily and things Sicilian.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Leonardo Sciascia (SHAH-shah) was born in Racalmuto, Sicily, on January 8, 1921. He lived much of his life in Sicily, where, before his success as a novelist and public figure in the 1960’s, he was a teacher. More than any other Italian author of the late twentieth century, Sciascia occupied himself with the problems of Sicilian society. His grim chronicles of the Mafia’s infestation of Sicily, including the political corruption of Sicilian government, present a grimly realistic picture of life on the island.

Sciascia was educated in the Istituto Magistrale in Caltanissetta, where he received his teacher’s diploma. From 1949 to 1957, he taught at an elementary school in the same city. In 1957, he moved to Palermo, where he taught until his writing enabled him to live on his literary earnings. He began writing in the neorealist style, chronicling the misery and poverty of the average Italian in the postwar era. His first success, Salt in the Wound , reflects his experiences as a schoolteacher, describing the depressing task of trying to teach tough, unruly twelve-year-old children. It goes on to portray life in the mythical town of Regalpetra. This book foreshadows Sciascia’s later efforts to show that the corruption of society (especially in Sicily) sometimes overwhelms all attempts to reform it. Sciascia’s pessimism, one of his hallmarks, is everywhere present in this...

(The entire section is 494 words.)