An Italian in Zutphen
Edgar Moortgat from Het geheim van een opgewekt humeur returns in the novella Een Italiaan in Zutphen.This time the character has evolved into the author’s own alter ego. The novella is much simpler in structure than the multi-layered novel but Ten Berge has once again combined historical and mythological motifs with compelling intrigue.
The streets and squares of the old provincial town of Zutphen seem an unlikely scene for anything exciting to take place. Suddenly, however, the world famous Italian writer Andrea Pastis comes to town during the annual week long fair. As the name indicates it refers to no one other than Umberto Eco. ‘Artistically speaking,’ explains Pastis somewhere, ‘I prefer learned characters who are made up of twin souls and temperaments. Characters who, on the one hand are straightforward and disciplined while on the other they pay tribute to irrational ideas and contradictory behaviour.’ Unconsciously, he has perfectly described himself as a character.
The apparently self-controlled scientist has set his heart on obtaining two rare incunabula from the library in Zutphen’s monastery. In order to get them he enters the Library at night disguised in a monk’s cowl. He is assisted by a down-and-out classicist who is continually quoting Ovid and who considers to have found his master in the Italian. The two of them form a new variation on the Sherlock Holmes / Dr. Watson duo.
Ten Berge has written a discerning, exciting and humorous supplement to The Name of the Rose, in which he critically appraises Eco’s intellectual though impersonal style of writing.