Series "Storica paperbacks"
Publication Year 2011
There exist moments, in the work of a historian, in which even
the most detailed and exhaustive reconstruction of the past is not sufficiently
satisfying". This is the opening sentence of Anna Foa's book. Usually the
discovery of a document, besides being a meaningful piece of the historical
puzzle one is trying to put together, represents an instance of true happiness
for a historian. But then something starts gnawing away at this feeling of satisfaction.
Even if the facts have been reconstructed, there always remains a doubt, a shadow:
what did that person really think, how aware was he, did she love, was he sincere,
did she feel guilty, was he paying attention? The eleven true stories contained
in this book are an attempt to give a voice to the unsaid, to imagination. They
share unity of place and time - they are all set in Rome, between the 15th and
the 17th centuries, during the building of the Papal State and then the Counter-Reformation
- and each involves the themes of power and repression: censorship, trials,
prosecution and defence, executions, repentance. These tales also depict the
culture and the politics of that era: the crucial choices made by the Society
of the Jesuits and its general Muzio Vitelleschi, and those made by the Church
in its relationships with the Jewish minority, as seen in the events involving
Pope Marcellus II and Alessandro Farnese. Whoever made these choices, for good
or ill, appears to have been quite aware of their consequences.
Anna Foa teaches Modern History at "La
Sapienza" University in Rome.