Industry arrived late in that Friulian countryside, where the trees and plants loaded with fruit had interwoven themselves into people’s lives and the lives of their families; into their history. She arrived when it was over, when the profound transformation of the landscape had already begun. In the space of only a few years, everything had changed.
This book recounts the violence of technology that destroys a landscape, and the powerful lure of a new way of life. Through memories, reflections and stories, Gian Mario Villalta describes a sense of upheaval, a sudden kind of violation, which at the same time brings with it the contradictory certainty that a new world can offer opportunities and improvements. The story of a tree, the giant elm of the title, the latest protagonist in a family saga on the verge of collapse, makes the profound link between the life of humans and plants very clear. Indeed it will be this ancient elm that will lend impetus to a new, different kind of search for the truth on the connection between life and memory, our relationships with others and with the earth on which we live.
Gian Mario Villalta has written poetry (such as the Vanità della mente, winner of the Viareggio prize 2011 and Telepatia, winner of the 2016 Carducci Award). He has also dedicated his critical attention to poetry with numerous contributions in journals, online and in the volume Il respiro e lo sguardo. Un racconto della poesia contemporanea (Rizzoli 2005); he compiled the “Meridiano” anthology, “Andrea Zanzotto: Le poesie e prose scelte” (with Stefano Dal Bianco), and the double Oscar that collects the writings on the literature of the great Venetian poet. This book is the unexpected conclusion to his latest novel, Bestia da latte (SEM 2017).