Monday, 24 February 2014

Italia Irredenta

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

When, in Poul Anderson's Time Patrol story, "Delenda Est," Boierik Wulfilasson of Cimberland whines that war is necessary because:

"'Carthaglann stole Egypt, our rightful possession.'" (p. 210)

- Everard murmurs, "'Italia irredenta...'" (ibid.)

- which, of course, Boierik does not understand, although it is exactly what he has just expressed.

Boierik speaks Cimbri, not Italian. When I first read "Delenda Est," I picked up some vague idea of what Everard's Italian phrase might mean from the context but now I have a policy of checking every word or phrase used by Anderson that I do not understand.

"Italia irredenta" means "Italy unredeemed." Italian irredentists aimed at the unification of all Italian speaking people and of all territories deemed to be Italian territory. Thus, Corsica, Nice and Savoy have been claimed: a perfect recipe for endless war in the Mediterranean. Anderson shows nationalism and the state perpetuating themselves through alternate histories:

"...man was man, in any history." (p. 203)

Everard reflects that his captors were probably married with children, probably enjoyed beer and dice, and maybe bred horses or roses:

"But none of this would do their captives a bit of good, when the almighty Nation locked horns with its kin." (p. 209)

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