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This article is taken from PN Review 49, Volume 12 Number 5, May - June 1986.

Guifà Leonardo Sciascia

Giufà has been living in Sicily since Arabian times. In the script of that period his name appeared as a small, crested bird, its tail stuck straight up in the air and a grape in its beak: A thousand years later, Giufà still shambles along the roads, ageless like all simpletons and up to all kinds of mischief. And sometimes people are exasperated by him, sometimes they laugh at him indulgently, and sometimes, as they lounge on the steps of the church the way they used to on the steps of the mosque, they cluster round him, putting foolish ideas into his head and solemnly telling him the tallest of tall stories. His mother, a poor widow, relict of a man scarcely less stupid than his son but who had at least worked like a donkey, leaves her home every now and then to look for Giufà, and taking his hand, she drags him home with all the feeble strength that remains to her; for the last thing that Giufà wants is to stay at home, but when he is out his mother, in her anxiety, seems to hear a cricket that chirrups into her ear: Giufà, Giufà, Giufà. What trials he has brought to the old woman throughout his one thousand years of life! Blows that would have killed any other mother, shocks that would have turned a hundred heads white, tears enough to fill a river. And the forces of law and order forever knocking at the ...


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