Macedonia | 2013
Goce Smilevski was born in 1975 in Skopje, Macedonia. He was educated at Charles University in Prague, Central European University in Budapest, and Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje. He is the author of several novels and theatre plays. His novel Freud’s Sister won the European Union Prize for Literature and is being published in more than thirty languages.
Nomen est omen. The beauty of this Latin proverb can be somehow overshadowed if we search for its realization in the everyday life. But, from the other side, exactly because of the rarity of its realization, the examples when it is fullfiled shine more brightly. One of those rare affirmations of the proverb, is Beatrice Monti della Corte. A muse of a great writer, she is fulfilling the fate of the name even after the transgression of Gregor von Rezzori to the other world. – she is a creator of the Paradiso on earth for writers, the Santa Maddalena Foundation, and remembering the six weeks I have spent there is not deprived of nostalgia. It was such a pleasure and honor to talk to Beatrice, to hear the fascinating history of her family and the stories of her life, those things that deserve a memoir she refuses to write, to have a conversation with her about her husband and his works, to share thoughts about Alberto Manguel’s History of Reading and Library at Night, Bob Wilson’s plays, Volker Schlondorff’s and Bernardo Bertolucci’s movies, to know more about her friendship with Isabella Rossellini and Zadie Smith, to witness her love for her dogs Rosine, Carlotta, Giulietta and Paride. And it was such a unique opportunity to become a friend with the other authors that were there at the residency – Mercedes Cebrian, Patrick Flanery and Javier Montes, and also to meet and talk with people close to Beatrice, and visitors of Santa Maddalena – Caterina Toschi, Naila, Brigida, Alba, Don Gino in the church at Donnini, doctor Tonino, Andrea Landolfi, Rezzori’s translator…
“I conduct every visitor to the highest room in the tower… Please do help yourself to all the Tuscany you could ask for,” wrote Gregor von Rezzori in Anecdotage. For six weeks I had a privilege to be every day in the highest room of the tower, and it was for me also a place where I enjoyed Rezzori’s books and understood the depth of his talent, there I have read Anecdotage and An Ermine in Czernopol, there I have begun reading his cardinal work The Snows of Yesteryear. And, certainly, from there I did help myself to all the Tuscany I could ask for. From the tower, I could see the Tuscan sunrise and sunset, I enjoyed the landscape so close to that on Leonardo’s La Gioconda. I was waking up with the singing of the birds, I was listening how the nature breaths… And – I was not writing.
Bruce Chatwin wrote probably the most praising words for The Tower: “The Tower is the place where I have always worked, clear headedly and well, in winter and in summer, by day or night – and the places you work well are the places you love most.” In sentences like this, it is always better to use the pronoun “I” instead of “you”, as not to everyone applies the idea that the places one works well are the places one loves the most. I have always relating with highest happienes not the work itself, but what is preceeding and what is a seed for the work – the inspiration. I have not written a single sentence in The Tower, I have not written anything during the six weeks stay at the Paradiso of Santa Maddalena. It was not that I didn’t wanted to write, it was that I could not write. And I did not forced myself to write, as I know that the periods of the most intensive inspiration, at least for me, cannot be time of creation. It was a period when I let all of the nature, the scents and sounds, the trees and plants and stones and springs and rain and sun and birds and leafs and landslides and hills write on my soul. It was a time of inspiration, it was the place of inspiration. And the places that inspire me are the places I love the most.