Giovanni s Journey, by Osvaldo G. Zappa. INTRODUCTION, by Anna Foschi Ciampolini / EPILOGUE / AFTERWARD

G Giovanni s Journey, by Osvaldo G. Zappa INTRODUCTION, by Anna Foschi Ciampolini / EPILOGUE / AFTERWARD (Segue sotto la traduzione italiana del testo) Introduction Anna Foschi Ciampolini iovanni s Journey,

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G Giovanni s Journey, by Osvaldo G. Zappa INTRODUCTION, by Anna Foschi Ciampolini / EPILOGUE / AFTERWARD (Segue sotto la traduzione italiana del testo) Introduction Anna Foschi Ciampolini iovanni s Journey, Osvaldo Zappa s gripping autobiographical memoir, opens with a funeral scene, a painful memory of Uncle Remo s suicide, one of the many tragedies that mark the protagonist s indefatigable search for a fulfilling existence, and stand as a stark reminder of the fragility and uncertainty of the human experience. Osvaldo Zappa Osvà to his family and friends in his native Abruzzo, Waldo in his adopted country, Canada is a multi-talented artist and writer who had a successful career in British Columbia s forest industry. But he is, above all, a man who possesses a deep spiritual strength, a curiosity for life and a capacity for compassion and love. His memoir spans more than five decades and takes the reader across three countries Italy, Canada and France, providing an acute analysis of social customs, cultural differences, socio-political influences and the repercussions that these forces and the impact of grand-scale events have on the lives of ordinary people. In telling the story of his family and the journey of his own life, Zappa sketches a powerful fresco in which personal histories unfold against the backdrop of epochal events, such as World War, the Hungarian Revolution, and the mass emigration of impoverished farmers and peasants from post-war Italy. Historical references to past collective tragedies like the persecution of the Cathars in France, are perceived from the perspective of the humble, the dispossessed, the victims of hatred and indifference. Ironically, these people are at the same time the keepers of the seeds of rebirth and redemption. Zappa describes the abject poverty of the Abruzzese villagers with uncompromising honesty, even with gruesome and disturbing details. Through the stories of people like Sofia, a destitute, epileptic woman shunned by the village, he makes the reader feel and experience the suffering that ignorance and superstition inflicted upon the most vulnerable. But he also finds lyrical, tender accents when he speaks of the awakening of adolescent love and, later, of the encounter with the love of his life, his wife-to-be Jacqueline, who has been his guiding light and safe haven. Together, supported by their mutual love and their strong family values, they coped with the painful illness that took away Jacqueline s eyesight, while she was still in her prime accepting this challenge and making it a pathway to a more intense understanding and appreciation of the great gift that life really is. Zappa s family endured other tragedies: the slow descent into drunkenness and despair that brought Uncle Remo to suicide; brother Fernando s long journey into the darkness of an incurable mental illness; the bitter resentment of Osvà s father at the disappointments of his work and life in the new country, where his dreams could not be fulfilled. Despite the family heartbreaks and the horrific childhood experiences during the war, Zappa pursued his goals, expanded his horizons and interests, and today enjoys his retirement years in his beautiful West Vancouver home with his beloved Jacqueline. He is rewarded with a harmonious family blessed with children and grandchildren. His story and the story of so many other characters in his memoir farmers and village priests who were sincere, innocent servants of God, other fellow immigrants, successful Canadian and Italian Canadian entrepreneurs is a story of hope. Giovanni s Journey is both a testimony and a tribute to resilience, faith, confidence and love the very qualities of the mind and soul that have sustained so many in a generation that experienced incredible hardship. Despite the horrors that some chapters depict, a sense of serenity and calm strength pervades the pages and is communicated to the reader. Zappa s optimism, his trust in the essential goodness of people, and the clarity of his moral values, are the fabric of this work and of his life. Reading Giovanni s Journey is a soul-searching experience that leads the reader to the very heart of the human quest. It is a portrait of an era that preserves the memories of traditions and beliefs, the activities of farm life in Abruzzo, the sacrifices of soldiers forced to fight in a war that they did not want nor understand, the excitement of the early days of immigrating in the new country and the initiatives of the Italian Canadian community in Vancouver. All these memories, so precious and poignant, are a priceless legacy for future generations. Without this work, much of this unique experience might well have been forgotten and lost forever. O Epilogue n January 27, 1945, ten years after my birth, the Nazi atrocities at Auschwitz-Birkenau were revealed to the world. However, it was not until later, while I was attending the University of British Columbia, that I became fully aware of the extent of atrocities that inflamed and then shattered the world of my childhood. Learning of the horrors of the Shoah, the Holocaust, when, with the complicity of its Fascist allies in Italy, the Nazis murdered millions of Jews, left an indelible mark on me. What we had to endure during the German occupation and the flight to freedom paled in comparison to the suffering of the Jews, gypsies and other so-called undesirables. In more recent times there have been new kinds of Nazi-like atrocities in the world: those of the brutal totalitarian governments determined to possess and control people s minds and lives. Another inner struggle is with the continuously anguishing knowledge of the extermination of the Cathars from the Languedoc, Jacqueline s birthplace; a land that is full of contrasts and rich in history and, moreover, so dear to her. When I visit that area today and find the same old prejudices, I am wounded. When I read in the Gospels about Christ, and how He was supposedly betrayed and crucified because of the Jews, it offends me. The church teaches that Jesus died to redeem us from sin. It was God who sent his Son to this earth to die a human death; it was God s will and Rome s imperial ideology, not human hands that took Him from us. The visit by the late Pope John Paul II to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial outside Jerusalem, did reassure the Jewish people when he spoke conciliatory words: the Catholic Church, motivated by the Gospel law of truth and love, and by no political considerations, is deeply saddened by hatred, acts of persecution and displays of anti-semitism directed against Jews by Christians at any time and in any place. Reported in the B.C. Catholic, the pope s attempt to make amends for past wrongs. Man must accept and respect other religions based on justice, love for our neighbours and for the good of all. We ought to accept a just God in the human soul; never agreeing to taking another s life or robbing an individual of the human right to freedom of religion. We must work harder to eliminate world conflicts in Asia, Africa and in the Middle East, the plight of Palestinians and their hope for a rightful home along with the right of the Israeli State to exist. All is possible if we collectively desire peace and justice. Life is to be lived in peace and harmony; life is to be experienced and savoured; life inspires music and literature. What God gives in purity, we must hold in trust and not return harmed. On the news every day, we hear of a new depression coming our way, one that may be worse than the last one. Markets are in turmoil everywhere. People are loosing their jobs, homes, savings and faith in a system that is beginning to crumble. Our children s future is at stake. All of this is very unsettling and makes us worry. We take these worries to bed at night. Our planet is going through an upheaval of cataclysmic proportions. There are tornadoes and earthquakes; there are floods in some places while in others the land is burned and not a drop of rain has fallen on parched soil for years. Continents are constantly assailed by nature s anger at men and their vile doings. There are riots everywhere. Mobs look for scapegoats to hang and to burn. We are not at peace with each other or nature. In fact, we are disobeying nature and, in so doing, disobeying God s will. I am dreaming. I am a child again. Mama is leading me by the hand. She has no eyes but she can see. The images that visit me as I sleep, I recognize as images from the book I m reading, The Road by Pulitzer prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy. Where are we going, Mama? I ask, as she leads me about. She does not utter the unspeakable. Her lips are burned black, stitched together, an effigy of death. What she might have said is now sealed the unspeakable truth about the world into which she has brought me. When I wake up from my dream the phone is ringing. L Aquila has been hit by an earthquake of magnitude 6.3 on the Richter Scale. Many buildings have collapsed and there is great loss of life, the voice tells me. The ominous news stuns me. I can t believe it. I turn on the TV and the first images of the destruction appear on the screen. For me it is 1943 all over again. Abruzzo is at war again, this time a war with nature. It is a war brought to me by a prophecy and I tremble. And I don t understand why. Many years have gone by. My story has been told like the stitching together of a quilt; at times I ran out of thread, at times I forgot details and had to start all over again, over the months and the years it took me to complete. But a quilt of sorts has been sewn, if for no other reason than to satisfy my own need to tell the story of the places and the lives of the people in it during World War II in Italy and, later, as immigrants hoping for a better life in Canada. I have had qualms of conscience in describing my father; however, some facts about him speak for themselves, just as my mother told me. I am not ashamed of my mother for telling me the truth about their lives together. I am ashamed for my father for the treatment he so cruelly inflicted on her. What could she have done to deserve it? His diary reprinted above, translated from the Italian, reveals another kind of man a more human one, with feelings and fears, with faith and hope. Now, all is forgotten and forgiven; he is dead and buried, as are mother, Lou and Remo, bless their souls. However, not to leave Dad under a cloud, and considering his harsh life and the circumstances of his times, I must try to forgive him. There is only one justice in this world, my mother used to say, and that is death. Rich or poor, black or white, just and unjust, we all die. Many of us fear death. This has always been so. A good death, the end of our natural life after a good life of love and compassion, lived to the fullest, is inevitable and benign. While I am deeply affected by the deaths of my dear friends and family, and saddened by the deaths of those who can no longer endure life and put an end to it, it is the death dealt by evil forces that I cannot accept. It is the horrors that tyrants and the xenophobic bullies inflict upon mankind in war, genocide and ethnic cleansing, and usurping men s right to live peacefully, robbing them of their lives and their souls, dispossessing and displacing the innocent. This is the tragedy throughout history. T Afterword he historical events in this book are recorded as accurately as I could make them, based on my recollection of the events and my research on Italy on World War II. The character of Lilia, not her real name, is based partly on someone I met, loved and lost in my youth. I have fictionalized some of the details in this chapter. My landlady did, in fact, seduce me not long before I emigrated to Canada. The stories of my dear family were told to me, including Uncle Remo. Young Piero s (Pietro) story is based on what my mom told me about her brother, when I asked her about his chronic feet and leg problems. Tonio s (not his real name) confession about setting fire to the sub-station is true. Recently, I learned that he also told the story to my sister Maria (Mari) before he died and she assured me of the veracity of the facts. The description of the events of that night is partly a fictionalized account of my creative spirit. I wanted to turn a sad moment into a jubilant one for the inhabitants who found themselves in total darkness at night during many cold weeks. I have written extensively about my brothers and very little about my three sisters because my male siblings have had a more permanent impact on my life than my sisters. In 1917, at age eighteen, my father was conscripted and sent to the front to fight in the Battle of Isonzo in northern Italy. His mother later reported that her teenage son had returned home at the end of the war mezz pazz (half crazy) or shell-shocked. This surely impacted his formative years. Every time I think of my mother, I lament her loss. Not one day passes that she is not present in my life. Jacqueline s story is as I know it. It will be fifty years since we met, married and continue to do our best. We take the best out of our lives with what love we were given and cope with the rest. We practice our faith. We take the good with the bad and laugh when we can. We give each other light. We have two caring daughters Chantal and Marsha who have blessed us with two loving granddaughters each, now aged eight to thirteen. They all enrich our life. My brother Nando (Fernando) is the brother I have cared for most deeply. My mother entrusted him to me and to my sister Mari. I continue to look after his needs in the hospice, Villa Carital. Life began harshly for me. World War II left an indelible mark on me and our family. After emigrating to Canada, I endured what most newcomers experience. Yes, I endured and made the best of it in a strange land, strange no more. Now I feel like a tree with roots in both Italy and Canada. These roots grow deeper as I grow older on my journey. One day I will be laid to rest in this my new country; the one that has given me much to appreciate, all because I choose to live and die here. I thank the friends who have both helped and encouraged me to write this book. First and foremost, Professor Ted Langley, who reviewed the first drafts of the manuscript, recommended changes and corrected errors. I must also thank Anna Foschi Ciampolini writer, journalist and translator who read my work and offered encouragement and constructive criticism. I am most happy to say that my friend, writer and journalist Raymond Culos, chronicler of Italian immigrants in Vancouver, also read the first draft and commented on its worth. I accepted his critique and engaged the help of an editor, Elspeth Richmond. Last but not least, I wish to thank my publisher Domenic Cusmano for his diligent and expert way of editing the final manuscript. This book is much better for it. I am grateful to my friends Claude and Jeanine Pech for the use of their computer and for their generosity of time and patience and the partaking of some good food and wine from the Corbières region during our stay in France. Don t hold back the river, wrote Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist. Here I have let my river run through and, when it reached the sea, it met the orange of the setting sun on the Pacific Ocean. This is where my journey ends for now: Giovanni s Journey and my dreams were made. August 1 st, 2010 Giovanni s Journey, di Osvaldo G. Zappa INTRODUZIONE, di Anna Foschi Ciampolini / EPILOGO / AFTERWARD I Introduzione Anna Foschi Ciampolini (Traduzione di Egidio Marchese) l viaggio di Giovanni, di Osvaldo Zappa, è un avvincente libro di memorie autobiografiche che inizia con la scena di un funerale, il penoso ricordo del suicidio di Zio Remo, una delle tante tragedie che segnano l infaticabile ricerca di una intensa esistenza da parte del protagonista, e si presenta come un aspro monito della fragilità e incertezza dell esperienza umana. Osvaldo Zappa Osvà per la famiglia e gli amici del nativo Abruzzo, Valdo nel suo paese d adozione, il Canada è un artista e scrittore di molteplici talenti che ha raggiunto il successo attraverso una carriera svolta nell industria forestale della British Columbia. Ma soprattutto è un uomo che possiede una profonda forza spirituale, curiosità per la vita ed una speciale capacità di compassione e di amore. Le sue memorie si estendono per oltre cinque decadi e conducono il lettore attraverso tre paesi: l Italia, il Canada e la Francia, fornendo un acuta analisi di costumi sociali, differenze culturali, influenze socio-politiche, e le ripercussioni che queste forze hanno avuto nella vita di gente ordinaria, in concomitanza all impatto di eventi di piú vasta portata. Nel raccontare la storia della sua famiglia e il viaggio della propria vita, Zappa traccia un potente affresco in cui storie personali si sviluppano entro lo sfondo di eventi epocali, quali la Guerra Mondiale, la Rivoluzione Ungherese e la massiccia emigrazione di poveri contadini e coloni dell Italia del dopoguerra. Riferimenti storici a tragedie collettive del passato, come la persecuzione dei Cathars in Francia, sono percepiti attraverso la prospettiva dell umile e del diseredato, delle vittime dell odio e dell indifferenza. Ironicamente, questa gente rappresenta le vittime e allo stesso tempo i semi della rinascita e della redenzione. Zappa descrive la degradante povertà dei village abruzzesi con inflessibile onestà, anche negli orridi e conturbanti dettagli. Attraverso le storie di persone come Sofia, una donna poverissima e epilettica schivata nella gente del villaggio, egli fa sentire e fa vivere al lettore la sofferenza che l ignoranza e la superstizione infliggono alle persone più vulnerabili. Ma egli rivela pure lirici e teneri toni, quando parla di un amore dell adolescenza, e più tardi dell incontro con l amore della sua vita, Jacqueline, che sposerà e che è stata la guida luminosa della sua esistenza ed il suo sicuro paradiso. Insieme, sostenuti dal mutuo amore e dal forte senso dei valori della famiglia, sono riusciti a superare la dolorosa malattia che fece perdere la vista a Jacqueline, quando lei era ancora giovane, e che fece loro accettare questa prova come un sentiero per una più intensa comprensione e un apprezzamento del grande dono che realmente è la vita. La famiglia di Zappa ha sopportato altre tragedie: il lento sprofondare nell ubriachezza e disperazione che condusse lo Zio Remo al suicidio: il lungo viaggio nell oscurità di una incurabile malattia mentale del fratello Fernando; il sordo rancore del padre di Osvaldo per le sue delusioni nel lavoro e nella vita sofferte nel nuovo paese, dove i suoi sogni non potevano realizzarsi. Nonostante le angosce della famiglia e la terribile esperienza d infanzia durante la guerra, Zappa ha perseguito le sue mete, ha espanso i suoi orizzonti e interessi, ed oggi gode gli anni del suo pensionamento nella bella casa di West Vancouver con la sua amata Jacqueline. È stato ricompensato da una famiglia armoniosa, benedetta dalla nascita di figli e nipoti. La sua storia e la storia di tanti altri personaggi descritti nel suo memoriale: contadini, preti di villaggi sinceri e innocenti servi di Dio, altri compagni immigrati, inprenditori canadesi e italo-canadesi di successo è una storia di speranza. Il viaggio di Giovanni è insieme una testimonianza e un tributo alla persistenza, la fede, la fiducia e l amore le vere qualità della mente e dell anima che hanno sostenuto tante persone di una generazione che ha vissuto incredibili difficoltà. Nonostante gli orrori che sono descritti in alcuni capitoli, un senso di forza di serenità e di calma è ciò che pervade le pagine e viene trasmesso al lettore. L ottimismo di Zappa, la sua fede nell essenziale bontà della gente e la chiarezza dei suoi valori morali, sono il tessuto di quest opera e della sua vita. Leggere
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