Open Doors and Three Novellas

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 283

When Leonardo Sciascia died in 1989 at the age sixty-eight, his reputation among English-speaking readers was largely based on his idiosyncratic detective fiction. In his native Italy and throughout Europe, however, he was highly esteemed for a broad range of literary activities, from journalism to essays to a wide variety...

(The entire section contains 283 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

When Leonardo Sciascia died in 1989 at the age sixty-eight, his reputation among English-speaking readers was largely based on his idiosyncratic detective fiction. In his native Italy and throughout Europe, however, he was highly esteemed for a broad range of literary activities, from journalism to essays to a wide variety of short fiction and novels, including the form he invented, known as the “investigative story.”

Of the four stories collected here, “Death and the Knight” and “A Straightforward Tale” show Sciascia’s approach to detective fiction, in which mysteries are to be experienced rather than solved. The sense of mystery is more than usually complicated by the moral and intellectual sophistication of the investigating officers.

The volume’s other two stories provide intriguing and substantial variations on Sciascia’s interest in crime. Both take a celebrated murder case as a means of meditating on the nature of Italian society at a particularly revealing moment—the Fascist era, in the case of the title story, and the period immediately before World War I in “1912 + 1,” a fine example of the “investigative story.” In both of these stories, the crimes in question indicate how complex and fragile is the moral fabric of society, particularly at moments of apparent uniformity and strength. Like all of Sciascia’s work, the stories in OPEN DOORS AND THREE NOVELLAS are notable for their psychological subtlety, meditative tone, and high-powered intellectual allusions. The best of them—“1912 + 1” and the title story—will repay the patient, attentive reader.

Sources for Further Study

Boston Globe. August 9, 1992, p. 37.

The Christian Science Monitor. September 1, 1992, p. 13.

The New York Times Book Review. XCVII, August 30, 1992, p. 10.

The Village Voice. September 22, 1992, p. 68.

The Washington Post Book World. XXII, November 8, 1992, p. 7.

Illustration of PDF document

Download Open Doors and Three Novellas Study Guide

Subscribe Now