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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Guest: a sexy Ichneumon Wasp

From Dino Buzzati's novel Il segreto del Bosco Vecchio. Why "sexy"?! Because, in this juvenile novel, it is the only episode in which Buzzati hints at a subject that will play a fundamental role in his later works: women possessing, dominating, and mocking men. In fact, the insects are described as follows:
Giving very thin cries to excite one another, the she-wasps swooped down on the caterpillars, seized them by the hair, and gripped them between their own legs(*) while casting contumelies on them. Then, they pierced the caterpillars with their stings, at a surprising speed, in every part of their bodies.
(*) The word gambe is employed, that refers to human beings; animals have zampe, in Italian. The actions of the ichneumon wasps, and of their larvae later on, match their actual behavior only in part: Buzzati sometimes enjoyed creating an alternative zoology, though the most interesting examples of this in 20th-century Italian literature can be found in Primo Levi's and Italo Calvino's short stories.