The saga of a family of canapieri from Frattamaggiore (NA) which takes place in the first half of the twentieth century.
The stories of the various characters are included in historical events such as the advent of fascism and World War II.
A story of yesterday to understand today's world.
"Hemp": the latest novel by Raffaele Abbate.
A review by Francesco De Filippo
Written by Alessio Malinconico
The production of hemp for decades and until a few years after the end of the Second World War was a thriving industry in the Neapolitan area. Especially in what today is no more than a huge country with no identity, Frattamaggiore.
It is here that Raffaele Abbate set his Hemp, today in a new edition by Melagrana, after the second place obtained at the II Prize "Naples narrative".
From the end of the 19th century onwards, more or less everything related to ropes and ropes, which was not precious Japanese silk and before the spread of nylon (now you lose old nippon), was hemp. Like all bell strings in the entire papal territory. Hemp produced with the hard work of workers with almost no rights in the factories open day and night in Frattamaggiore. It was not the mine but the unhealthiness was considerable and there were those who died from the bezoari, the ball of tow that grew in the stomach and manifested itself suddenly and always too late. Survival households for hundreds of families in the face of the indiscriminate enrichment of very few 'hemp lords'. Tough people, ruthless first of all with themselves, ferocious with others; vengeful and carnal. Abbate's book recounts these decades of fortune starting from one of the forefathers of the families of lords, Don Severino Profili. And when, on May 1, 1910, all over the country there is talk of nothing but the death of the rebel Anna Grassi. Not just any worker: Don Severino's lover, the one who gave him a son, Ciro.
The history of hemp is therefore the history of Italy, of those tough people who, in conditions of inhumanity, as it was in the Second World War, lost the few hesitations of civil life, remaining with the sole objective of personal profit. Not all, of course, but the most unscrupulous are the future winners in this area. Then history is intertwined with personal events, and in the inextricable disaster that will be the war in Naples, Malapartian scenarios meet with personal reckoning and imaginary events. The champion in this arena is Ciro Grassi. He asserts himself on the various military fronts open in the world but the unscrupulousness in him will prevail over intelligence, cunning. If the story is the result of more or less true stories passed from mouth to mouth, from mothers to children, it is difficult instead to establish whether it really was Ciro Grassi who took possession of the gold of the Jews of the ghetto of Rome, an immense treasure that was not enough. them to avoid deportation in sealed wagons. In reality it seems that gold was found in Germany while in the book, with daring episodes, it reaches Naples brought, in fact, by Ciro Grassi.
The book also speaks, and with a wealth of gruesome details, of a page of history recently deepened by various historical essays: the role of the ferocious goumiers, the Moroccan warriors, in the battle of Cassino. Terrible massacres, with the consent of the French general Alphonse Jouin, against the civilian population, which paid a very high price. The author has the spirit of the necessary Neapolitan detachment - that of those who have seen too much to be scandalized or at least surprised - which makes him go through various massacres unscathed, domestic violence, dissipated fortunes, preserving up to the two epilogues the witty irony that precedes the novel. .