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110 Intertwined with the lengthy affair of the three Hawaiian youths, Moreno’s Italian pit stop in the early 1880s involved another matter of interest: Moreno’s attempt to build a political career. His Roman acquaintances were essential for this purpose, and one in particular was Giovanni Faldella. They met in February 1881 at a banquet at Rome’s Central Hotel organized by the colonia mondovita, people from the town of Mondovì in Piedmont . Moreno was a somewhat exotic attraction because of his recent exploits in Hawaii, and he was the object of toasts and compliments. Deputy Carlo Rolfi, a writer, journalist, and Faldella’s close friend, was enthusiastic about Moreno. Rolfi had written about him in the Gazzetta Piemontese and spoken about him to Faldella. Faldella later described Moreno as tall and robust, clothed in black evening clothes but wearing the Asian-style shoes of a sugar planter, and speaking with disdainful authority about Hawaii in an English accent.1 Faldella confessed that at first glance the man, though he appeared a “charade” worthy of study, seemed “almost unpleasant.” Never mind: Moreno won him over soon after, when he met him by chance in a modest trattoria behind the Chamber of Deputies, the Fiaschetteria Caselli, where c h a p t e r 7 Electoral Intermezzo Electoral Intermezzo 111 the Captain “polished off a head of lettuce.” Faldella admired his “disdain for useless social mores,” “his emancipation from and disinterest in certain little social submissions,” which was a sign of “robust self-confidence.”2 Fostered by common memories of Piedmont, which Moreno recalled in his first known letter to Faldella, a friendship between the two men was born.3 Faldella was from Saluggia, in the province of Novara, today Vercelli . He was born in 1846, and after working as a lawyer and magistrate, he launched a brilliant career as a journalist. In 1873, the Turin newspaper Gazzetta Piemontese sent him to Vienna to cover the Universal Exposition, where he wrote his first book, A Vienna: Gita con il lapis. This work soon established him as one of the most capricious and original voices of the moment, in the vein of the Scapigliatura literary movement. With time, Faldella intensified his political activity. In 1872, he was elected for the left to the provincial council of Novara, where he kept his seat until 1908. In 1881, he entered Parliament, in the Chamber of Deputies, replacing his colleague on the right, General Bertolé Viale, who, elected the year before, had subsequently been named a senator. Not reelected in 1882, Faldella then returned in 1886 and was elected three times. He was finally named a senator in 1896. Faldella and Moreno seemed made for each other. Moreno was a perfect figure to stoke the writer’s imagination. With his unique story of escorting the three exotic young Hawaiians, Moreno appeared, depending on the moment, as a mother hen with her chicks or a lioness with her cubs.4 In the Capitano Marittimo, Faldella saw the triumph of a dynamic philosophy aimed at “banishing the sectarian and Mephistophelian no, always responding yes to every offer of employment, always undertaking and knowing how to do everything, especially when you do not know how to do it,” which was the attitude of “an adventurous novelist of life,” one who, like Casanova, “was busy making novels rather than writing them.”5 They also shared a passionate anticlericalism, which Faldella displayed in the pages of his short-lived magazine Il Velocipede, founded in 1869. This was the mental state of many of the Risorgimento’s protagonists, and it became a source of funny quips in conversations between Moreno and Faldella. In one, King Vittorio Emanuele II, excited by the Sumatra project , promised the Captain that his father-in-law, the sultan, would make him pope, thus guaranteeing him “spiritual power.” But there was more. Moreno most dramatically embodied the restless spirit of modernity, enamored with great projects that would change the face of the earth: cuts made through isthmuses, telegraph cables, navigation lines, fabulous markets. Moreno was someone who “trims the continents 112 Electoral Intermezzo with scissors.”6 We must imagine the pair’s meetings in Rome and their long conversations on various topics. We know that Faldella was not only inspired by Moreno’s life for perhaps the most interesting chapter of his 1882 book Roma borghese: Assaggiature, but he had to convince himself that the Capitano Marittimo, a man filled with experience and new...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780823279890
Related ISBN
9780823279869
MARC Record
OCLC
1038009437
Pages
272
Launched on MUSE
2018-06-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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