Originally published in 1963, and today considered a landmark in twentieth century Italian literature, Luigi Meneghello’s Deliver Us is the memoir, not of an extraordinary childhood, but of the very ordinary one the author shared with most of his generation, when Italy was a rural country under the twin authorities of Church and Fascism. His boyhood begins in 1922, the year of Mussolini’s March on Rome, and ends when Meneghello, 21, goes up into the hills to join the partisans. Called a romanzo—a story, although not a novel, as that term usually suggests—the book is a genre all of its own that mixes personal and collective memory, amateur ethnography, and reflections on language. Meneghello’s sharp insights and narrative skill come together in an original meditation on how words, people, places, and things shape thought itself.
Only loosely chronological, Deliver Us proceeds by themes—childhood games, Fascist symbols, religious precepts, and the rites of poverty, of death, of eros, and of love. Meneghello’s ironic musings and profoundly honest recollections make an utterly unsentimental human comedy of that was the whole world to his dawning consciousness.