Lucio Piccolo Anthony Burgess - Essay

Anthony Burgess

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Before we praise Piccolo the Sicilian poet, we ought to praise Piccolo the poetic Sicilian. However much we talk of the universality of art, an intense regionalism has never yet been a diminishing factor in literature, though a great regional writer will, in the paradox of art, exalt the province that has chosen him as its voice into a great metaphor of universal experience. A visitor to Faulkner's Mississippi or Joyce's Dublin has been schooled to an intense awareness of and relish in the qualities that make those regions what they are, but those qualities are sharpened, by the magic of literature, into archetypes or symbols of a validity that transcends time and space. In Piccolo's poems we meet a Sicily latent in the country of the tourist guides and the history books, but it was Piccolo far more than, say, Lampedusa who was destined to draw out the latencies, read the signatures, crack the code. On the most practical level, the moderately sensitive visitor to Sicily would do well to read Piccolo before buying his ticket.

His provincialism is limited to love of a particular place; there is nothing backward or bumpkinish about his sensibility or technique (again we think of Faulkner and Joyce). Piccolo is most original when he seems to remind us of other poets—D'Annunzio or Cardarelli or Campana—for the assumption of another voice is a deliberate act which serves to draw attention to an enigmatic personality lurking behind one...

(The entire section is 476 words.)