IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND THE SON
Ermanno Bencivenga is an internationally renowned philosopher and essayist and Professor of Philosophy at the University of California. He has written many books published, among others, by Feltrinelli, Mondadori, Rizzoli and Laterza.
This book investigates the very special relationship between fathers and sons in light of examples drawn from two seminal texts for Western culture – the Odyssey and Pinocchio – each interpreted in a truly unique way.
In this reading the Odyssey is focused on Telemachus rather than Oysseus. It is Telemachus who chooses who his father is among the many castaways and wayfarers who come to Ithaca over the years, claiming to be Odysseus. With detective-like precision and examining the clues scattered throughout Homer’s epic poem, Bencivenga retraces the basically arbitrary nature of this choice: Telemachus does not know that the shipwrecked man before him is his father, but he eventually feels and decides that he is. It is the son who establishes who his father is.
The second example is taken from Pinocchio, a story traditionally interpreted as edifying where a mechanical, disjointed child gradually takes on social responsibilities and eventually becomes human. Quite the contrary, in this book's interpretation it is Geppetto who eventually chooses to be a father by progressively humanising the puppet until he recognises it as his own son.