Ocean Sea. Alessandro Baricco. 1993. Feltrinelli



The time is è indefinite. The space is the Almayer Inn that is on the beach of an unspecified sea. It has seven rooms and mysteriously emphatic kids run it. It hosts Plasson the painter, Bartleboom the scientist, the beautiful Madame Daviera, the preist Padre Pucle who accompanies the young aristocratic and hypersensitive Elisewin, the mysterious Adams aka Thomas, the doctor Savigny and their stories.

“I meant to say that I want it, life, I would do anything to have it all, all that there is, so much to go crazy, it doesn’t matter, I can also go insane but life I won’t miss it, I want it, indeed, though it would hurt like hell to live is what I crave for. I’ll make it, won’t I?”

Elisewin, a shy and hypersensitive girl, utters these words with a solemnity about which at first she is completely unaware of: one could imagine her starting nervously to express her thoughts, and getting only later more and more aware about the importance that those words may have for each character of the story. These words seem like recalling a kind of collective unconscious that slowly finds its way to awaken the characters’ awareness introducing the key element that will lead to their catharsis: the sea.

The Almayer inn is on the sea and its name evokes right away Joseph Conrad’s narrative, where lonely heros face their fate often represented by dangerous and enchanting waters. Run by the emphatic kids, the inn is on the beach right next to the sea and it hosts people that share the obsessive commitment to face a personal demon in form of complex enigmas.

For the painter Plasson it concerns the possibility to paint something infinitive and powerful as the sea; for professor Bartleboom the way to describe the borders of things in order to understand their nature; for father Pucle which ideas could question or support his religious calling; for Adams aka Thomas the whereabouts of that place where need for revenge becomes spirit of adventure; for Savigny meeting that moment in which the past and the future do the math.

The plot, without a linear evolution, proceeds with undulating rhythm as the water creating imaginative scenarios defined through a poetic narrative style: use of paratactic sentences, repetitions and word associations; the presence of direct and reported speech and several moments of external reflection; the use of letters, prayers and tales. The main theme is the sea meant as all-embracing energy and metaphor of life. The ocean that mitigates, the ocean that amplifies, the ocean that somehow or other resolves and dissolves fear, guilt, ambitions underpinning Elisewin’s and the other characters’ personal researches.