‘The Story of My Death’ by Lauro de Bosis: Short Story Analysis
‘The Story of My Death’ is the last testament of the Italian poet and anti-fascist intellectual, Lauro de Bosis. He lived when Mussolini came to power in Italy and made it a fascist nation. ‘The Story of My Death’ is the true-to-life account of how Bosis planned on flying the plane ‘Pegasus’ above Rome at 150 kilometers per hour and throw four hundred thousand letters into the city. These letters were anti-fascist writings dedicated to three people: The King of Italy, Roman citizens in general, and every anti-fascist citizen. He also decided to rain down several copies of Bolton King’s book Fascism in Italy. Bosis was sure that after completing his mission, he would not live to tell the tale. He, therefore, wrote this piece for posterity. Bosis’ disappearance was a mystery. After successfully flying over Rome, he moved his plane towards Corsica. He was never seen again.
This beautiful short story by Bosis is soul-stirring and full of the spirit of his age. Bosis was anti-fascist. He made his thoughts known in Italy through his distributed leaflets, letters, and newsletters. He successfully circulated countless leaflets to scores of Italians who were suffering under Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime. Bosis wrote this work as a short story, but it is more an essay appealing to Italian citizens and anyone against fascism to rise and take charge of the situation before fascism gets out of hand. Bosis, throughout this piece, refers to Italy’s past glories and encourages every Italian to stand up against fascism. It is a shame that such a vibrant intellectual met such a tragic end. He was indeed a brave man who stood for the Constitution of Italy and its democratic nature.
‘The Story of My Death’ is the sad tale of how a person who works for freedom of expression, speech, and thought meets with a tragic end. However, his anti-fascist writings and letters containing his poems live after him. They testify to the genius Lauro de Bosis, who was called too early from this life. His priority, as I can gauge from this short story, was to work for Italy’s citizens and encourage them to denounce fascism that had killed their liberty. He also denounces fascism in this piece as something weak and lowly. He mentions very beautifully how the citizens of Italy should get rid of fascism. At the same time, he cautions them not to spend their whole lives or lose their lives in the process. He said this because he was aware that fascism is so weak that it would fall like a pack of cards with just a little egalitarianism and solidarity. There is a beautiful sentence in the story that mentions how the children of fascist Italy were taught to adore their chains and pity those, like the children of liberals and the socialists, who were free. A very moving sentence that should make us examine whether the very same conditions exist today. It seems like fascism has revived again in the world. We need intellectuals like Bosis to remind us about our faith in democracy and our love for the freedom of expression.
De Bosis quickly became disillusioned with Mussolini after the 1924 murder of the anti-fascist Giacomo Matteotti, an Italian socialist politician. On 30 May 1924, he openly spoke in the Italian Parliament alleging that the fascists had committed fraud in the recently held elections, and denounced the violence they used to gain votes. Eleven days later, he was kidnapped and killed by fascists. I suspect that Bosis got involved in anti-fascist activity when the Italian politician Matteotti was murdered, and his murderers were rewarded. Bosis mentions Matteotti’s name throughout the piece grieving that the children and youth of Italy had almost forgotten who the politician was and what he stood for.
Bosis mentioned Spain’s situation and warned the Italians not to become a second Spain. Bosis’s piece is moving, heart-piercing, authoritative, and pro-Constitution. There was nothing but true Italian nationalism and faith in the past brought out in this moving piece. There is a bit of a communal remark when he mentions that even Afghans and Turks believed in some form of liberty, but he intended to highlight that they otherwise are a nation who believes in rule by the sword. Nevertheless, the piece is moving, and the letters he threw down on Rome will stir the heart of any person who values their liberty.
We are living in an age like Bosis’s time. Our freedom of expression is being questioned. Fascism is a full-blown reality, and we are drowning in a sea of fake news that has become a toxic ecosystem in our lives. As thinking people, we should read ‘The Story of My Death,’ and realize that someone was so ardent in his need for liberty that he took this suicidal step. Maybe the historical facts mentioned in this piece will be difficult to analyze if we are not history students. Still, its essence will resonate with every person that hates the curtailment of true freedom. Just like Bosis mentions, even for us, the sword of Damocles is suspended over every citizen’s head on planet Earth. What happens in the next couple of months will either make us get back on our two feet or ruin us. Everyone will not die, but no one will be living either. If we do not want life to become just a plain existence, then we had better do something positive to cancel fascism from our lives forever. Just like Bosis spoke to every one of his Italian brothers and sisters, we should also individually take up the ten points mentioned by him in the last letter and not support fascism.
I am currently reading a beautiful book How to Read Literature by Terry Eagleton. He mentions that literary works sometimes come to life again in the future because of changes in current affairs. I think with what is happening in our world today, it is time that Lauro de Bosis’s writings should be reread and appropriately interpreted. Eagleton also mentions that literature is not an ‘everything works and goes’ scenario. We need to understand the writings from the past with discernment and per our present realities. We should not twist writings penned in the past to suit our twisted and draconian agenda. All can read literature, but it is not about you; it is about the text.
Bosis spoke so much about the importance of Italy’s Constitution in every Italian life during the 1930s before he disappeared forever from our lives. With his National Alliance group and network, he worked round the clock to get this basic idea into everyone’s head that you cannot argue when you do not have the right to speak. Being argumentative is excellent, if it is handled with decency. Critiquing an ideology or thought does not mean the end of individualism, but a celebration of it and our thinking humanity. We are canceling each other. The situation is worse than what the National Alliance faced during Bosis’s time. It is worse because, unlike life in the first half of the twentieth century, today, every nation around the globe is receiving the wrong news. We should make sure that no one who fights for the truth should perish trying to stop wrong or fake news from being disseminated via social media, newspapers, e-newsletters, magazines, and television. Encourage correct news and facts to be what they are: facts! We must break the chain of circulating fake news in Chinese whispers and Japanese whispers, and get the authentic truth out there to everyone, out loud.
As Bosis mentions in this piece, people have died, been tortured, left naked in the winter cold, incarcerated, denied their rights as citizens, not allowed to express their views freely, during the time of the fascist regime in Italy. Fascism is never right, says Bosis, and I agree wholeheartedly with him. Fascism is never right: either you are for it or against it; there is no middle way. Like there should be no middle way where democracy and the rights of thinking individuals are concerned.
I want to touch upon one act from the ten acts that Bosis mentions every Italian individual should do to not give in to fascism. That one point is to circulate leaflets and spread every truthful news you may get hold of because the truth is always going to be anti-fascist. I believe in this point, and I hope with the aid of my books and my blog posts to spread correct and truthful news about current affairs to everyone. Stop covering and giving into fake news; it will save yours and somebody else’s life. It is not too late; we can still stop many countries in the world from becoming fascist. We still have a chance to end fascism without spilling blood. Start it here with the print and digital media; start by example.
I hope to read more works my Lauro de Bosis soon.
This piece caught me by surprise. I did not know who Bosis was until I read this piece from one of my many short story collections. I was so overwhelmed by him and now will go on Goodreads or Amazon to check out if I can get a biography or two of the dear soul. May Gog give his soul peace. Do read ‘The Story of My Death’ as soon as possible.
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