Nonino Prize “To a Master of our Time” 1999

Jorge Semprún

Not only in his indelible literary work. But also in his life, paying a lot and with exceptional courage, Jorge Semprùn has faced and lived the tragic and devastating threat of totalitarianism, the Leviathan of our time, which he has fought struggling for freedom against fascism in the war of Spain, against Nazism, challenging with firm resoluteness the hell of the Lager (“Tacere è impossibile”; “La scrittura o la vita” Ed. Guanda) and against communism, in which he had believed and whose tyranny and violence he revealed implacably, without denying – differently from others too many others – the ideals of solidarity and justice in the name of which he had adhered to that idea and which had given him the strength to fight for freedom and democracy. Jorge Semprùn is not only a master of writing (“Il grande viaggio” Ed. Einaudi), in his rough and powerful narrative which does not concede anything and lets us touch the dignity of the man and his adventure at the top of History, but he is also a witness of our century, of its hell and its hopes, a great intellectual that brings us into the heart of intelligence and a great narrator that brings us into the heart of passion. He is an example, against so many cynicisms sharply reactive and reactionary, of pietas towards the others and towards us, of brotherly understanding of the greatness and the errors of the man and of the never repressed hopes of redemption.