The Force of the Past is an excellent example of the novel that recycles the traces of personal ideological commitment, once so predominant in post-war Italy, and presents them in the context of modern society. History is overflowing with examples that constitute the importance of association with a certain ideology. The first and the most prominent set of principles would be fascism, closely followed by communism. Both ideologies had various repercussions while being justified by the functioning of enormous world powers. After the Second World War a new player emerged replacing fascism in its role of the opposition to communism. This is when the field of Italian politics became almost homogeneous and dull. An individual had to choose between two major parties, Italian Communist Party (PCI) or Christian Democrats (DC), and then the Socialist Party (PSI). The internal workings of a society depended on the commitment to either one so it could later classify the individual, confine him within a certain category and construct his identity in reference to the ideology chosen. The collapse of the Berlin Wall was the smoke signal for change, the slow and steady emergence of a new era filled with new ideologies and values that turned their back on the long history of political and party association. However the collective memory did not let go. Sandro Veronesi evokes this memory and creates a conflict between the past and present. The past is systematic where the identity of a human being is almost inseparable with the domain of politics. The present does not reserve the right for this assumption while providing the possibility of personal choice, due to the postmodern fragmentation which separates the public sphere from private. It is precisely this conflict that shall be explored further while carefully illustrated.
The story follows Gianni Orzan, the narrator and the main character in the novel. He is an outstanding citizen and a role model for the society, a loving husband to his wife Anna and a loving father to his eight year old son, Franceschino. He is earning his living writing successful children’s books about a character that goes under the name of Pizzano Pizza and his has just been awarded a prize of 15 million lire for his latest publication. Yet what is important to keep in mind is the relationship with his father that has recently passed away. This is a relationship that seems to be somehow always present in his thoughts and his everyday life while he is trying to come to terms with what happened. The so- called ‘force of the past’ that turns his world upside down occurs during a brief incident, the night he agrees to take a ride home in an unlicensed taxi whose driver is wearing a short sleeved shirt under his jacket and then later appears to have a gun tucked under his belt. That night Gianni Orzan’s perfect life lets in a complete stranger that appears to know his name and that his eight year old son just learned to ride a bicycle. Gianni manages to escape leaving his bag in the boot of the car.
This is only the beginning and the main character is not aware of the news which he is yet to receive. At this stage the author already provides crucial information that leads to reader’s discovery of his father’s ideologically constructed identity. During the encounter Gianni points out that short sleeves were “an important detail” and that “there is a whole story behind it”. He then goes on to explain how this tiny and sometimes insignificant detail carried a lot of weight when it came to the relationship with his father. The moment that he is sharing with the reader takes place in the seventies “watching a party political broadcast”. Politics, in his view, always had the power to spark an argument between them. That evening both the main character and his father were watching a press