CHRONICLES A discreet and ironic observer of the world, the writer of Trieste poses in this collection of texts in ambush in the "theater of the world".

• Snapshots, by Claudio Magris, Translated from the Italian by Jean and Marie-Noëlle Pastureau,

Gallimard, 190 p., 18 €

Things in life, seen or heard in Berlin, Budapest, New York or St. Petersburg, a couple in discussion in the compartment of a train, the "tender and bold" face of a woman in a cocktail, moments fugitives that throw a dim light on our chaotic present. The Italian writer Claudio Magris has gathered his "Snapshots" a selection of forty-eight chronicles published between 1997 and 2016 in the Corriere della Sera. Sitting at the table of an inn, on a mop in Istanbul or Benares, or aboard the "White Arrow" between Milan and Trieste, the writer is discreet and ironic observer, quick to recognize his own weaknesses in other.

Claudio Magris, the secrets of Trieste

In ambush in the "Theater of the world", Claudio Magris is interested in romantic relationships, watching a corpulent old gentleman, obeying the injunction of his wife, resigned, like a lion in a cage in the menagerie of a circus. The novelist meditates on the need for loneliness inside the couple and wonders about the "Well-meaning formalism" who formalizes the sexual relationship in the invitation – " valid for two – at a conference or congress. The academic, literary and artistic world, and its trivialities, offer it a fertile ground for exploration, debate on "Orphan embryos" to the tics of the consumer society.

Find the flagrance of summer

Humor does not exclude a certain gravity. Two children of different skin color playing together on the Barcola Riviera, Trieste Beach, inspire him to reflect on language and identity. Back from a month on the Dalmatian coast, at the turn of a reading, the author learns that in Denmark, textbooks have changed the too Christian end of an Andersen tale, "A well-intentioned censorship, driven by the desire not to disturb cultural or religious minorities". On the basis of this aberrant logic, he emphasizes, books should be written or rewritten according to the potential reader, "Everyone is comforted in his expectations and his demands without ever having his convictions put in question".

Read Claudio Magris is also the certainty of finding the flagrance of summer – " the true season of life – when the writer revisits the places that "Are a modality of his relationship to the world" : the Kvarner islands "Where the triumphant summer lights up and blurs all the hues of glory and nostalgia"and "These absolute days, whose marine beauty fills you with its glory, but also arouses in you a throbbing pain because, as we have said of love, it makes you feel what you miss".

François d'Alançon



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