A semiautobiographical coming-of-age story, framed by the harrowing 1975 Circeo massacre
Edoardo Albinati’s The Catholic School, the winner of Italy’s most prestigious award, The Strega Prize, is a powerful investigation of the heart and soul of contemporary Italy.
Three well-off young men – former students at Rome’s prestigious all-boys Catholic high school San Leone Magno – brutally tortured, raped, and murdered two young women in 1975. The event, which came to be known as the Circeo massacre, shocked and captivated the country, exposing the violence and dark underbelly of the upper middle class at a moment when the traditional structures of family and religion were seen as under threat.
It is this environment, the halls of San Leone Magno in the late 1960s and the 1970s, that Edoardo Albinati takes as his subject. His experience at the school, reflections on his adolescence, and thoughts on the forces that produced contemporary Italy are painstakingly and thoughtfully rendered, producing a remarkable blend of memoir, coming-of-age novel, and true-crime story. Along with indelible portraits of his teachers and fellow classmates – the charming Arbus, the literature teacher Cosmos, and his only Fascist friend, Max – Albinati also gives us his nuanced reflections on the legacy of abuse, the Italian bourgeoisie, and the relationship between sex, violence, and masculinity.