Gavino Ledda


With six years Gavino was brought in as the first-born after only a few weeks from the primary school and forced by his patriarchal father to herd sheep on the pastures of the family in Baddevrústana. Later, the father brought the whole family to the cottage on a sheep and since now also the brother was used for herding sheep, Gavino had besides still do all imaginable other hard, agricultural activities. At age 18, he was, like almost all young people emigrate from the village, but his father had denied the signature, so that the still minors was forced to stay.

The Army as a first detachment of the reign of the Father
In 1958 (age twenty), he enlisted in the military service and took it still quickly testing the fifth year of primary school after which it was allowed to exist also, since the military took so many strong young men as possible. In the military service on the mainland it was because of his poor knowledge of Italian and the miserable education always an outsider. Due to incorrect specification in the screening he came to Cecchignola in a radio technology school, where he was completely overwhelmed by the demands of natural science field course. Another student helped him, however, and with his insatiable thirst for knowledge, he also managed to pass the tests of radio technology. He then completed a training NCO. Next he learned in the barracks in Rieti for the consideration of the third middle school class that he was in Pisa in 1961. In May 1962, he signed his resignation from the army, because he did not want his " hangman of the society," "standing against the poor and the shepherds." Now he returned to Siligo, where he was constantly in dispute with his father, as it equated the intended path of learning with laziness and Drückebergertum.

Further education
Therefore, he decided to once again go to the Italian mainland to enroll at a boarding school in Salerno, where he was also active as an educator to keep costs relatively low. Because of poor diet, he got a duodenal ulcer and decided to cure in Siligo, which it did after a few months. The following year he passed the examination for the upper classes of the Humanist Azuni High School in Sassari, although he had only autodidactic prepared. Then Ledda worked again in Siligo with agriculture. From 1 October 1963, he went to the Azuni High School daily in Sassari and was there in 1964 the matriculation examination with an average of 8 of max. 10 points. Finally, in semester 1965/1966, he began his philology studies in Rome.

Academic career
In 1969 he succeeded his PhD at the University of Rome. From 1970 he worked at the Accademia della Crusca together (Society for the Care of the Italian language ) with Giacomo Devoto. From 1971 he worked as an assistant for Romance Philology and Sardinian linguistics at the University of Cagliari. By 1978 he had a job as Glottologieassistent at the University of Cagliari and Sassari then.

Freelance work in their future lives
After his huge success with his autobiography Ledda was, you still a writer, director and actor in the film Ybris, which also showed an excerpt from his life.

Later Ledda moved back to his home village Siligo, where he works as a freelance writer and farmer in a house in the Via Vittorio Emanuele.

In October 2005, Ledda sought from the local authorities to protect the area around Baddevrústana, the pasture land of his childhood, when there took place several buildings and garbage was dumped. On 17 December the same year shots were fired at his house in the evening, which pierced the door and destroyed a display case in the hallway. Ledda, who watched the news in front of his fireplace, was not injured. He had announced that he will not let themselves be intimidated them, because he believed in justice, love nature and therefore ask to be respected.

Gavino Ledda 2006 won the Premio Nonino in the category Literature. The contract awarded since 1977 prize is awarded to works that tell of the rural life and rural culture. The award was made on 28 January 2006.

For several years, Ledda is working to find the right language for a story entitled "The pace of nature." He also plans a story entitled "Il tempo del minore," which is a general look at the problem of children who were brought by the compulsion to work to her childhood.

Padre Padrone
Since the summer of 1970 Gavino Ledda wrote to draft his autobiography, 1972-1974 he worked on the final version of the story. In 1975, the first part of his autobiography under the title Padre Padrone at Feltrinelli was published, the book described his life stretch of 1944 until 1962. The novel was still in 1975 awarded the prestigious literary prize Premio Viareggio, sold in Italy more than 1.5 million times and was translated into forty languages​​-1978 he appeared as My Father, My Lord in German. The film adaptation of the book by the brothers Vittorio and Paolo Taviani 1977 he won the Golden Palm in Cannes. The book marked a turning point in the history of the Sardinian stories - with the exception of Grazia Deledda there is no Sardinian author who has read so much around the world.

Lingua di falce
In 1977, at the Feltrinelli continuation Lingua di falce, which was translated in 1980 as The language of sickle into German. This book is the narrative time less long ( only 1962-1966 ), but Ledda brings a more socially critical considerations and Sardinian are many stories again, he had been told in the village.

Other works
In his avant -garde autobiographical film Ybris (1984 ) Gavino Ledda is playing itself The film was awarded the Premio Nuovo cinema.

Poetry collection Aurum Tellus ( Scheiwiller 1991)
Amendment I Cimenti Dell'Agnello ( Scheiwiller 1995)


This is an interview with writer Gavino Ledda, who wrote the book: "Padre Padrone, my father, my master". He began working as a sheep herder in rugged Sardegna at the age of 6 or 7 under the strict rule of his father. When he reached twenty he began to make up for the years of school he had missed and finally published a book which sold millions of copies all over the world. Overall he is a wonderfully interesting character.

Day 1.

Is it true that you are active in the preservation of the Sardinian dialect?

I think that I am a heir of the Sardinian oral tradition. Sardinian is a very beautiful language, but it's never been written in...almost never. From the beginning of the 1900's we had the fortune that a German linguist came to Sardinia and made a dictionary for all of it's people: Italian–Sardinian. I should have kept teaching Sardinian, but you could say that the vocation to writing prevailed. This necessity to write incited me to found a school where I can teach Sardinian, but a particular one, a multidimensional. Einstein was very right.

So now you work more as a linguist rather than as a novelist?

Well, actually both. My new works will be in two languages, Sardinian and Italian, both of them written by using my multidimensional method. The two languages face to face in the book. Two new languages. This way we'll have a Sardinian language for the year 3000 and an Italian one for that year (for the future).

Q– When will your next work be published?

Probably by next year, in the next Spring.

.. Shows the school outside ...

A What my new mode of expression attempts to do is to give a new dimension to a word, in this case the dimension is time, by inserting another word within the first word to give it the impression of action, to make the word more dynamic.

Day 2.

My first question is...why did you come back to Siligo?

A You could say that I never left. My heart never left. And I think that it's a common characteristic for all men to stay with their heart where they were born, where they grew up. However, if you want to study, as I say in my book, I had two paths that I could follow. One was emigration, in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium. The other was the army. I couldn't become a Carabiniere because I was too short. You have to be 1.60 meters. I tried to stretch my neck but I couldn't make it. So I became a Sergeant in the army and for those years I was away. The book “padre padrone” is a part of my life, an autobiography. I went in the army, starting from scratch, for four years. I had a lot of free time in the army and I could study. Many of my fellow soldiers had studied and had a degree, and they taught me. I grew up with the school of friendship. When my four years in the army were over I made a choice: to get a degree in ancient Greek and other ancient languages, and ancient philology. All of the languages pertaining to the Indo-European, ancient ones. Basically all of the languages of the occident. I can't speak them very well but I can understand them when I read them. Only Albanian, Basque don't belong to that group. I was at the university in Rome and for that time I was away from home again. Then I became an assistant of Romantic linguistics and Sardinian. However, the art of writing did not match well we the academic life. I understood that if I was to be a writer I had to come back here and become a shepherd of sounds, of music, just as I had been a Shepherd of sheep. Only a pastor of sounds could invent this new mode of expression. I call it an expressive mode.

Read this, to understand the difference between modality and language:

Alex: “Modalità (mode): The study of the systematic behavior of man's communications in all of it's modes. The most important one is that of listening and speaking which constitutes the object of the fundamental study of linguistics. The study of the visual mode (expressions of the face and gestures of the body) is in general called “cinesca.” The study of the tactile mode (physical interactions which allow for physical contact is called the “prossenica.” The term semiotic can be used also to indicate the study of the systems of signs and symbols in general. In this case, blah, blah, blah…

A– So there are several modes. Mine belongs to the “listening and speaking” mode. What is different about this mode of mine are small adverbial “particles” which are inserted within a noun. So it becomes a mix between an adverb and a noun. You've always heard that nouns are nouns, verbs are verbs, and so on. So I took the adverb and joined it with the noun or the verb. To make it easier I can make this comparison: Just as Einstein joined the spatial dimensions with time, so I try to give the dimension of time to the language. This has always been done with math, but never with poetry. The poet has never been able to penetrate the space-time continuum. I know it's hard to understand. I'm happy to be working on this but for the moment only a few of my students and myself understand it. It's born from the unpredictability of man—

Siligo is important because it's the country where I wrote "padre padrone." Baddevrusta, if man will not loose his head, will become a literary park because it is the stage of "padre padrone."

Has the life of the shepherd changed since the time you were one?

It's changed because in the sheepfold, Ciccinatto would plow with the wooden plow, perhaps only the bottom part was made of iron. I lived through all this, you could almost say that I lived at the same time as Ciccinatto.

Q Who is he?

A He is a famous Roman dictator who fought a great battle in Rome.

Q So you mean that in your time you still used the ancient method for plowing the fields?

A Yes, you could say that.

Q Here (hands me a book) read, there is no shame in not knowing things, you cannot know everything.

Alex: Roman Patrician who received the title of dictator of Rome while he was attending to the plowing of his field. After winning an important battle for the city of Rome he went back to plowing his field. A symbol of the simplicity of customs.

Did you use a modern machine after that.

A Then the iron plow came along. The first iron plow in Siligo is from 1917, but it was for the very few. Most had the wooden one. I was lucky because my father had the iron one. The iron plow, however, did not change life much. What really changed everything was the engine. The engine got here very little. In America it was used much earlier. Back to the end of the 1800s. Up until 1964-65 I used to help my father harvest the grain by hand, with the scythe. Even the first reapers (machine to cut grain) didn't work on slanted pieces of land, so you had to do it by hand. Only now can they harvest the grain with the reaper on a slanted surface. Now they can almost reap on the mountain. The same thing happened for the shepherd. The two major Mediterranean faces, agriculture and sheep-herding, have both changed thanks to the engine. The problem is with chemistry. The chemical substances to grow agricultural products looked like a miracle at first, but it's actually a poison. It's better to go back to the biological. I like to tell you this, and this will be in the new book. The man forces earth to produce more than it is able to. Nature permits this and so the it's also nature's fault. It allowed man to reach 6 or 7 billion. So the earth is the great mother, and it says: "I can give you this much, if you want more I'll give you more, but it will be poison." This is a great tragedy, one that I would like to write. So now the earth is telling man, I hear her: "You're telling me to produce poison. I can produce beautiful things in the form, but I have to fill them with poison. So we need to slow down. The Japanese are already aware of this and they try to do something about it. If man conquers space, then he can keep increasing in number. But he can't force nature to produce more than nature is able to produce naturally. So the change in Sardinian sheep-herding reflects this. The milk is not how it used to be. Neither are the fruits. There is that percentage of poison inside. Bread used to be sweeter than sugar. Today it's not like that any more. In order to be able to taste these sweet flavors again, I go to my botanical garden and plant garlic, onions and even grain, once a year I can still taste something similar to the bread of my childhood. You see, the vegetables need to be caressed in order to grow up good. However, even if I produce all this in my own land, and I caress the plants like when I was a child, the sky has changed and I can't do anything about it. The sky was ruined by men. The land is also poisoned. Yet this manual cultivation brings back memories of the sweetness of the bread of my childhood.

Was there a change in the mentality of the shepherd?

A  They don't really realize what we were talking about. The young ones that go to school learn about smog and pollution. I hope that in the future we will be able to find a remedy, but I think that the remedy must come from above.

Q What do you mean by 'above?' Perhaps from the higher social classes?

A Yes, and from the government. Unfortunately man is selfish. There has to be something which restrict this selfishness, we have to have laws, even laws which limit the indiscriminate use of science. There is already a tendency to control these things. So the shepherd, even though he milks the sheep Homerically, he will get the poison from the sky. The island of Sardinia is privileged in this sense. But we need a remedy, someone who checks. I'm pessimistic.

Q I believe that the culture of the shepherd is the key to the culture of Sardegna. What change will the change in the shepherd's culture bring to the Sardinian culture in general?

A The horse, the donkey and the ox were replaced by the engine. This is ok, but what is not ok is the excessive use of the engine. So the mind of the shepherd has changed, and it's ok. You must learn Leonardo and even Einstein, poetry, etc. But I think that the anguish that exists in the soul of the young people derives from the poison in the earth and in the sky. So the young people feel this voice of the earth and so they are sick. I know many anguished people in the new generation. So there is drugs, alcohol and other things. So I think that the solution is to purify the earth and the sky, thus curing the children, animals and vegetables as well. In Vallevustra yesterday we saw vegetables which are still healthy. Maybe the poison has not reached the valley yet. But if you see Lombardia and other regions of Italy you will realize that the farmland is poisoned. The cities are even more poisonous. There is much smog in Cagliari and Sassari. So the young shepherd feel less anguish than the young people who live in the city. All of these things I'm saying because I want to stress the fact that if we cure the sky and the earth, we can cure all of existence, and man is able to do this. It's very difficult, because you must give up selfishness. This is my poetry.

Q What do you think about the commercial development and the development of tourism in Sardegna? What do you think regular people think of this development?

A That's why I was saying that before. We are lucky that the Sardinian sky and earth is less polluted than elsewhere. But the development of tourism in Sardegna is something that happened in a selfish and consumeristic fashion. They have this mentality of working for two months and they want to make enough money for the entire year. And the prices are high, way too high. And then there isn’t a union between the production of food and the consumer. That’s way we speak of Sardinian tourism, let’s go to Sardegna. Sardegna is just lucky that the sea is still beautiful and the air is still quite clean, but the bread is not sweet like when I used to be a child, and neither is the cheese or the tomatoes, vegetables, grapes, and neither is the lamb, it is still good, but not as good as when I was a child. And then the tendency of tourism is a consumerist one, starting with the chain of hotels all the way to all of those other things inherent to tourism in general. The most beautiful and efficient things could be the means of transportation, the airplanes and ships should be efficient and everything. Yet how is it that in the plane...I recently went to Brazil and the food was extra-terrestrial...I did not eat. I knew it because I had been to Australia before, so I brought a piece of cheese with me, a piece of sheep cheese, so when the flight attendant walked by I would take out my piece of pecorino and they would laugh. I am convinced that the airplane companies could do it if they wanted to, they could serve good food, the porchetta. Why couldn’t they bring the porchetta on the plane? I would have put two “porchettari” (stands that sell the porchetta) at Fiumicino. I don’t understand why it’s not possible, it must be a matter of organization. Have you seen the sandwiches at the airport? They’re disgusting. Not only because they are from two days ago. This is just an example, and from the example comes the truth. The only good thing left is maybe mineral water, but I’m not so sure.

Q But what about the common Sardinian, who is still a farmer or a shepherd, what does he think of this tourism boom?

A The wealth here belongs to the people from Milan or the United States, it doesn’t belong to the Sardinians, so the regular Sardinian says: “who cares about these people that come here,” On the other hand, if the cheese of the Sardinian shepherd were to go directly from his “nuraghe” to the table of the hotels, everyone would be happy. And the food would be biological. Nobody has been able to do that yet, to say, in a three or five star hotel, only biological food here. This would be nice, and if it costs 100 Eur more I don’t care, I can always choose. But I should at least have a choice. There is a lack of interest for the shepherd and those that produce food from the earth. There is a violent industry of food and of agricultural products which doesn’t look at the small shepherd or farmer anymore. So man doesn’t know how to administer himself. There is the triumph of selfishness, and I think it’s a global tendency. I hope that what we are saying makes people think and that at least a small portion of biological products can reach the big chain of hotels and wide distribution chains, even to the airplane. I would like to see on the Boeing going from Rome to Tokyo: “only biological products on this plane.” That would be nice. I would be happy to pay twenty Eur more for such a thing, and I wouldn’t have to bring my own cheese from here.

Q I think that your father was a little bit too much. How do you think that an ideal father should be?

A But now I came to rethink of the behavior of my father and I re-evaluated it. Considering the products that he used to produce and comparing them with the products that another father could produce, perhaps one that is less “padrone” than he was, I think that my father’s bread was sweet, and so was his milk, his oil and everything else. I am, of course, using the word “sweet” in a general sense. The only sour thing were the beatings. So I grew up healthy and very intelligent. I think that he has a great merit in this and in the passing on of love. He grew me up with all these sweet things. Of course, the sky was sweet back then and so was the earth, now all of this is poisoned. The father of today, as an educator, is more relational. But the products are not. So, on my father’s table everything was sweet. On today’s father’s table the father is sweet and the rest is sour. It’s an enigma, you’re inspiring me my next work. I like this enigma of the table, the “padre padrone” at the table with all these sweet things and then the new table with poisoned products and a sweet father. What I prefer is a balance between the two.

Q Tell me more about your idea of the current relationship between the father and son in general.

A We could say that if I can give my advice...I'm very surprised because nowadays the father is an almost non-existent figure. It’s not a good thing. The father must exist. I know all of the animals and insects because since the time I was 5 I lived among them. I can say that I know them, I am a student of Darwin. All of the animals are paternal or maternal. That means education, strictness, even sweetness ... a balance between them. Nowadays the father doesn’t exist anymore. He is too sweet with the children and they grow up bad. The role of the father that nature taught us does not exist anymore, and the same thing happens with the mother. They are both too sweet and with too little salt.

Q What about your own relationship with your father. When did it improve?

A Our relationship got better. You see, my father, within his Homeric horizons, was right. Yet there was another dawn coming which he couldn’t see and I could. There was the need to learn Leonardo (to study science, etc.), and that’s what he didn’t understand. Yet there was a need to learn Leonardo even more than the Americans themselves understood. To ask of science more than what nature can provide for is wrong. I had the fortune of learning Leonardo, that means Pythagoras, Einstein, physics and the word, yet it’s the dosage, the measurement that’s important. And it is something that only the animals can teach us. The animals are some kind of balance, and they can tell you everything. This is the truth. So, as an author, as Gavino, I say to man 'listen to nature because it’s the only thing we have.' So back to the father, it is important to be a real father until the end. Until the child has grown up, because the school we have nowadays is not fatherly and motherly at the same time like nature is. So the father and mother are of fundamental importance, just like the animals teach us. So school which tries to replace the family cannot succeed. Yet is canceled the role of the father. So I tell today’s fathe 'don’t be a 'padre padrone,' but never forget the real role of the father.'

Q The tendency to cancel the father is somewhat of a global trend nowadays.

A Yes. And it’s not a good thing. The young people grow up bad. I am convinced that this lacking balance of the sky and the earth is the cause for all the bad balance in man. When science came to the earth, it caused a bad balance, an anguish within our youth. This has created a moral unbalance as well. Gays, for example, are also a product of this. When I was small there were very few gays, even among the animals. Nowadays in Chicago there are more gay people than strait people, and this is the fault of man, who has poisoned the sky and the earth as well. We eat this poison and so...but we can go back. I have nothing against homosexuals, it’s not their fault and it’s not the “padre padrone’s” fault. When there was the war I was very young and I remember very little. I was maybe three or four years old. I know that the Americans did a great thing for Europe. They freed us from two madmen who were ruining all of humanity, and I thank them. Yet I would like to tell them 'please try to heal the sky. I do what I can with poetry, but poetry does very little in this respect. Poetry can just say things.'

Q You are writing about this poisoning of the earth and the sky. When do you think this work will be completed?

A On this theme specifically? Never. This may be included in other works of mine.

Q So now you get along well with your father?

A Yes. My father wanted absolute obedience when I was staying in his house. He is like an animal: until you stay in the nest, I am the eagle. When you leave the nest, you become an eagle yourself. It’s a parable.

Q One of the things that I was really curious about is this: the shepherd never trust each other. Is that still the case?

A A little bit less than before, but there is still some miserable person around. You could say that since the etymology of this behavior (to steal) comes from within the human soul, this tendency to steal, which might have been a chicken or a sheep, has developed and now you can find it in the big cities like New York, where it’s the banks that steal millions and so on. Inflation, and so on. Giant bandits but still bandits. Three thousand years ago Al Capone would have stolen a chicken. Nothing is created or destroyed, but is only transformed. It’s by Lavoisier. It’s the same thing with people’s behavior. This is one of the greatest assumptions of mankind.

Q Apart from the school, what are you working on right now as far as your writing is concerned?

A My next work will be out either in Autumn or next Spring. Battoraghe is already both a school and a publishing company.

Q But what about your next work. What is it?

A It is a new version of “padre padrone” with an appendix where I will speak of all these things. I want to start with padre padrone because millions of people read it. I count a lot on this book to help me in this feat: to adjourn human expression like Einstein’s theory adjourned science. If I come out with a new version of padre padrone every year, I can put a little bit of this in every one of these new versions. I would like to publish “padre padrone 2004” and then 2005, 2006, and so on, hopefully I can live as long as my father, he is 97. He is still clear of mind. If you want to know him I can introduce you. He loves me now, everything worked out fine. Now he is “padre padrone” with my mother. Well, actually, he is ok for about 15 minutes, and then he starts being “padre padrone” with me as well.

Q How about with film. Are you done with films?

A I hope now. I would like to film another version of “padre padrone” in Sardinian, possibly with expressions from my new language mode as well. The actors should all be Sardinian and speak Sardinian because it is the only romantic language which never had it’s popular dignity. So I think that now I have this duty. It’s a healthy duty, mind you, I’m Italian.

Q So you are not a separatist?

A No. No. But Sardinian should be known as well. So I’m not done with cinema because I must do “padre padrone” again. I’ll have to invert the roles. I will be my father, and then I have to find someone to play me as a child. I must also find a wife, for the movie. Of course, if I find one in real life it is even better. That’s the thing that’s missing in my life. I studied too much and now I’m left without a wife, but now I’m looking for one. Not just for company, I need a small Gavino, just like the emperor. It would be very nice to make “padre padrone” from the inside, because the Taviani brothers made the movie from the outside. Now I need a wife, even maybe an African wife.

A Hard to find one that speaks Sardinian.

Q (laughter) I can always do the translation. I really like African women, sometimes they are more beautiful than Italian ones. They are close to the earth. They also have a motherly relationship which we have all but lost.

“Padre Padrone” The Movie
“Padre padrone” - the movie review

Padre Padrone was the first film ever to win both the Palme d'Or and the Fipresci International Critics Prize at Cannes, and earned its writer/directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani the sort of recognition that had long eluded them outside of their native Italy, so that now they have entered the pantheon of great fraternal filmmakers alongside the brothers Coen, Quay, Polish and, er, Weinstein. Not bad for a low-budget film originally made for television, but then, Padre Padrone is all about miraculous achievements emerging from the humblest of origins.

Young Gavino (Fabrizio Forte) is just settling into his first year of primary school in a small town in Sardinia, when his tyrannical father Efisio (Omero Antonutti) removes him from the classroom to help look after the sheepfold in the mountains. The following years are a catalogue of beatings, hardship and loneliness, where the only thing more frightening than the poisonous snakes, rapacious bandits and murderous vendettas is Efisio's upraised fist. Gavino's sole pleasures are adolescent, livestock-assisted masturbation and accordion playing, although Efisio frowns upon the latter as an unwelcome sign of his son's independence.

After several financial setbacks, Efisio signs up the illiterate 18-year-old Gavino (Saverio Marconi) as a volunteer with the Italian army on the mainland to become a radio engineer and win respect for the family. Away from his father's domineering influence and helped by his educated comrade Cesare (Nanni Moretti), Gavino discovers an aptitude for learning and decides to turn his back on Efisio's plans for him. He must first, however, return to Sardinia and confront his father…

The Tavianis' screenplay is adapted from Gavino Ledda's autobiographical memoirs, The One That Got Away, and the author himself appears at the film's beginning, formally introduced by a voice-over and shown symbolically handing to the actor Antonutti the whittled stick which is the symbol of Efisio's savage authority. These literary origins are important, for while the film may unfold in the rocky backwoods of Sardinia, where intellectual endeavour and individual development are stamped out from an early age, Ledda's creative memory transforms this most unpromisingly barren of settings, with all its parochial specificities, into a staging ground for themes of a more universal nature: Oedipal conflict, coming-of-age drama, the prison house of patriarchy, the portrait of an artist as a young man.

The boy Gavino is repressed, reserved and inarticulate to the point of muteness. When, as a late teen, he returns to his father's house from mainland military service, he becomes so ill that he struggles to say a word ("I can hardly speak, because I have even lost my voice", he rasps). Yet if the family home and sheepfold are places where free expression is strictly forbidden, in Ledda's (and the Tavianis') imagination, everyone has a voice.

In creative voice-over, or subtitles, otherwise silent characters (Gavino's fellow pupils, his mother and siblings, his fellow shepherds - and even a disgruntled sheep!) at last get to have their say. If the Sardinian landscape seems mythic, idyllic and elegiac at times, this is only because Ledda's emerging artistry makes it so, in much the same way that, when at Cesare's urging, Gavino first opens up and begins to recount his own story, he introduces it with hexameter verses cited from Italy's greatest epic hero (and its earliest self-chronicler), Virgil's Aeneas. For Ledda, the journey to becoming a somebody is all about finding the words and investing raw experience with a poet's sensibilities.

Of course, Padre Padrone is also, as its title suggests, the story of a father and of the mode of character and conduct that he embodies, transmitted from generation to generation until finally its protagonist manages to break free of the whole vicious circle. Gavino may, as young men so often do with their fathers, in the end repudiate Efisio and all that he stands for, but the film itself makes Efisio a tragic figure who arouses pity as much as fear. He, like Gavino, is trapped in his own legacy and, amidst his violence and rage, is occasionally allowed to show unguarded moments of tenderness towards his son, moments that reveal the human so well concealed beneath the bestialised skin. Efisio may confine Gavino to illiteracy, but what the boy learns from his father about the sounds and smells of the world around him is just as much a part of his being as any formal education that he will more belatedly receive.

Padre Padrone is a film of careful balances, setting raw nature against refined culture, offering family drama that grips from start to finish without once resorting to sentimentality. Most of all, it is a blow-by-blow account of an artist's rites of passage and the growth of an individual voice—in both literature and cinema.

Gavino Ledda

Gavino Ledda (born December 30, 1938 in Siligo, Sassari Province, Sardinia) is an Italian writer.