Vito Teti journeys to South Bend in search of a world that moved away; we return from South Bend to search in vain for worlds we have left behind. Our attempts to abolish the distance of time and space that separates us lead to the only possible common destination: a theatre of memory South Bend in which our history becomes the source of a mythopoeic performance of our story. South Bend pane is a narrative of emigration poised between scholarly research—the anthropology of remaining—and literary creation.
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This contamination of anthropological observation by the poetic processing of memory makes of Pietre di pane a sort of bridge between the two sides of the crevasse opened by emigration. Read from this perspective Pietre di pane is its own doppelganger, the double of itself: an anthropological research that is refracted—translated—by the fictionalized poetics of those who have remained and those who have left. Like Frank, who meanders through the streets of Toronto looking for his father’s home, those of us who left, return to the narrow streets of San Nicola and Maierato looking for a place between poetry and reality, for a narrative we can call home.
As the never-ending flight cross the Atlantic is reaching its destination, I’m haunted by the famous question asked by Northrop Frye just as Canada was turning one hundred:
It seems to me that the Canadian sensibility has been profoundly disturbed, not so much by our famous problem of identity, important as that is, as by a series of paradoxes in what confronts that identity. It is less perplexed by the question “Who am I?” than by some such riddle as “Where is here?”