Literary Meditations

A Mind's Journey

Erri de Luca – “Il peso della farfalla”

Erri de Luca’s ‘Il peso della farfalla’ [The weight of a butterfly] was published in 2009. Although it is not one of my favourite books, I think it is a good short reading, especially during a trip in the mountains! Here a brief preface.

The king of chamois is tired. Solitary and proud, it is the lord of his herd from many years. Probably it is time he gives up, leaving his throne to a stronger son. It is november, time of duels and reproduction. From below the valley comes the smell of that man, the murderer of his mother. This man is also very old; he has spent most of his life hunting the mountains’ beasts. He is also called ‘the king of chamois’, having killed many of them. Erri de Luca narrates the meeting and duel of these two characters, by entering two different solitudes: the chamois’ one, standing below the protective sky, and the hunter’s, who has never had a real story to tell for neither capturing women’s attention or winning his battle with other men.


It is an interesting story, full of fantastic quotes. I have translated some of them for you:

Thinking about anything else is the greatness of enterprises.

A man is the sum of what he has done. If he forgets, he is an upside glass, an empty space.

In every species, it is the solitary who attempts new experiences. He is a experimental cell destined to drift. He opens a path which closes behind him.

The king tasted the salt of stars.

Certainty of inferiority leads to improvement.

The present is the only useful knowledge. Man is incapable of living in the present.

Animals know the time in time, when it is necessary. Thinking ahead is men’s ruin and enemy to readiness.


I hope my review has tempted you to read the book.

Have a great reading.

Atena Longo




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