July 29, 2006


We've often recommended the excellent Commissario Guido Brunetti series by Donna Leon and there's an especially good passage in Death in a Strange Country. Despite a somewhat anti-American tone and a plot that tries
to compare the U.S. Military to the Mafia and the corrupt Italian bureaucracy, Ms Leon eventually has Guido approach his father-in-law, a powerful Count, and ask his help in getting an illegal toxic waste site dealt with. The Count agrees, but reluctantly:

"Don't you care about any of this?" he asked, unable to keep the passion from his voice. [...]

"Yes, I care about it, Guido, but not in the same way you do. You have managed to retain remnants of optimism, even in the midst of the work you do. I have none. Not for myself, nor for my future, and not for this country or its future. [...]

We are a nation of egoists. It is our glory, but it will be our destruction, for none of us can be made to concern ourselves about something as abstract as 'the common good.' The best of us can rise to feeling concern for our families, but as a nation we are incapable of more."

And, of course, the birth rates in Europe demonstrate that they don't care about family in the abstract either, just the self.

The Egotism; or Bosom Serpent (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

All persons chronically diseased are egotists, whether the disease be of the mind or body; whether it be sin, sorrow, or merely the more tolerable calamity of some endless pain, or mischief among the cords of mortal life. Such individuals are made acutely conscious of a self, by the torture in which it dwells. Self, therefore, grows to be so prominent an object with them that they cannot but present it to the face of every casual passer-by.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 29, 2006 2:33 PM

Just finished Death at La Fenice on your recommendation and loved it. I am told the German television productions of these mystery stories are outstanding. Have not seen DVDs out yet ...

Wikipedia lists order of publication of the Comissario Guido Brunetti novels, for anyone who wants to read them in the correct order.



Posted by: Brother Qiao at July 29, 2006 11:30 PM