“At night, in Rome, it seems you can hear lions roaring. There is an indistinct murmur, and that is the city breathing, amidst its dark domes and the distant hills, in shadow that glistens here and there; and every so often, the raucous noise of sirens, as if the sea were nearby, and ships were setting sail from the harbor for unknown horizons. And then there is that sound, both lovely and savage, cruel but not devoid of an odd sweetness, the roaring of lions, in the nocturnal desert of houses”. This is one of the most poetic passages of Carlo Levi’s second novel, L’Orologio, published in 1950. Whereas Cristo si è fermato ad Eboli accounted for a world out of time and history, L’Orologio tells a world in which all times and all histories are contemporary. Levi recounts the end of Ferruccio Parri’s Resistance Government, the beginning of the crisis of the liberal and shareholder parties, the coming to power of Alcide De Gasperi and the Christian Democrats, and, above all, Rome and Italy at that time. The book appears as a container in which the atmospheres, feelings, and enthusiasm of the immediate post-war period are mixed with the contradictory and immobility of a political class that doesn’t manage to go beyond an abstract vision of the problems.

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