The Dogs of the Sinai
Translated by Alberto Toscano
5.5 x 7.75 inches, 140pp with DVD December 2013
ISBN : 9780857421722
Rs 425.00 (HB)
‘If you no longer want to believe in the truth, no one will believe in you.’
The Dogs of the Sinai ends with these words written by Zelman Lewental, before being murdered by Nazis in Auschwitz in 1944. In many ways an unclassifiable book, The Dogs of the Sinai combines polemic and autobiography, narrative and criticism, in a terse and finely wrought reflection on politics, identity and truthfulness in the immediate wake of the Six Day War of 1967. This is a book against—against those ‘who love to rush to the aid of the victors’, against the ‘widespread and racist contempt for Arabs’, against the ‘celebration of “modern” civilization and technology as embodied by Israel’. It is also, and perhaps especially, the book in which Fortini sought to ‘clarify for himself the history of a conflicted relationship with his own origins’ as an Italian Jew. A searing introduction to a crucial figure in postwar Italian literary and intellectual life, The Dogs of the Sinai is also an uncomfortably timely book. It is published here accompanied by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet’s film, drawn from Fortini’s essay, Fortini/Cani.
Franco Fortini (1917–1994) was a poet, essayist, literary critic, Marxist intellectual and translator (of Brecht, Goethe and Kafka, among others). His incisive polemical interventions shaped Italian letters in the postwar period. Though selections of his poetry have appeared in English, his unique contributions to the essay-form, to the study of German literature and Italian poetry, and to the direction of Italian intellectual life remain unknown in English. A translation of a major collection of his essays is forthcoming from Seagull.
Alberto Toscano teaches in the Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is the author of Fanaticism (2010) and The Theatre of Production (2006), and the translator of several books by Alain Badiou. He sits on the editorial board of the journal Historical Materialism and is series editor for Seagull’s Italian List.