Mafia and Antimafia: Sciascia and Borsellino in Vincenzo Consolo’s Lo spasimo di Palermo

  • Daragh O’Connell
Part of the Italian and Italian American Studies book series (IIAS)


In this study, the figure of Paolo Borsellino and his assassination are analyzed in a literary context in relation to Vincenzo Consolo’s 1998 novel Lo spasimo di Palermo (The Agony of Palermo). This narrative constitutes a break within the Sicilian literary tradition and is one of the first examples in Sicilian literature in which a judicial figure is accorded positive values and heroic status. Consolo’s Giudice (Judge) figure is the unnamed, though thinly veiled Paolo Borsellino, whose assassination at the end of the novel represents the death of the Italian state and articulates Consolo’s own disavowal of the novel form. Conversely, positive values accorded to an institutional figure such as a judge are notably lacking in the writings of Consolo’s mentor Leonardo Sciascia: the figure of the judge, who ought to embody and be an agent of justice, is more often portrayed as an unjust, negative element corrupted by and partaker in the shadowy power structures of Italian life.1 Consolo’s text establishes a dialogue with Sciascia’s polemical pronouncements on the professionisti dell’antimafia (antimafia professionals) and attempts to reconcile the literary and judicial antimafia traditions of the island.


Organize Crime Italian State Black Cape Judicial Branch Literary Context 
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Copyright information

© Stephen Gundle and Lucia Rinaldi 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daragh O’Connell

There are no affiliations available

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