the life

Carlo Coccioli was born in Livorno, on May 15th 1920, at 4.25 a.m. His father, Attilio, was a very young artillery sub-lieutenant of the Bersaglieri corps, native of Taranto, who was sent to the Tuscan city after Word War I. His mother was Anna Duranti, from Livorno, who belonged to a Jewish family. Because of economic reasons, the wedding was celebrated without royal consent, which at the time was obligatory for army officers. As a result, his father was temporarily discharged. During these first years in Livorno, his brothers Alberto (1921) and Ferdinando (1924) were born.

In 1924, by the King's intervention, his father was reinstated in the army and sent to Cyrenaica to face the revolt of the Senussi muslim confraternity.

Along with her three sons, Carlo, Alberto and Ferdinando, Anna remained in Italy until 1927, when Attilio finally was allowed to take his family with him to Cyrenaica. At first they settled down in the village of La Berca, then moved to the heart of Bengasi, where Carlo's sister, Marisa, was born. Later they moved again to Derna, on the west coast, where Carlo began primary school.

In 1929 the family returned to Italy for a while: Attilio attended a course at the Academy in Parma. In Parma Carlo completed the first school period and was enrolled, at the age of twelve, in a technical-commercial institute, forced to that choice by his father in spite of his precocious inclination to literature.

After finishing the course, Attilio was sent to Tripoli, where the family resided until 1938 mostly within the “Garden City”. It was in this context that Carlo started studying French.

Due to a rather explicit antifascism, the father Attilio progressed very slowly in his career. At the eve of World War II, he was sent to the northern frontier, to Fiume, but soon he had to leave the family to go to Ethiopia. In Fiume, Carlo completed high school and dedicated himself to his humanistic studies, attending the local Civic Library. In 1939 he registered at the Regio Istituto Universitario Orientale (Royal Oriental Institute ) of Naples University. To finance his studies, he gave private lessons of Latin and maths for one year.

In 1940, Attilio was captured by the English at the Egyptian border: he remained a prisoner till the end of the war. The following year, with the invasion by the Italian troops, the civilian population was evacuated from Fiume, and Carlo, sent by the family, rented a house at Arcetri, in the neighborhood of Florence.

Called up for obligatory military service in July 1942, Carlo completed his officer training course in Rieti. At the end of August of the same year he was in a barracks in Turin, as a sub-lieutenant of the 91st infantry regiment, when, after the armistice of September 8, the barracks was surrounded by German troops. He managed to escape, briefly visited his mother in Florence, then returned and with some companions eventfully made his way to Arezzo, then to Cerbaia, where, under the name of Francesco, he assumed command of a partisan band. In the formation “Giustizia e Libertà” he was entrusted with the third Brigata Rosselli.

In December of the same year he discussed in Rome, a temporary university seat, his long- prepared thesis entitled: “Animal stories in African oral literatures”, and obtained a degree with laude.

In 1944, he was captured by the Germans in Tuscany, at San Felice, near Ema, and taken to the prison of San Giovanni al Monte in Bologna. There he took part in a dramatic breakout, gun in hands, and crosses the Gothic Line. After a short stay in the communist brigade “Stella Rossa”, he reached the front line at Rifredi, at the outskirts of Florence, and waited for the arrival of the Allies. He was then put in charge of relations with the allied troops and finds the partisan formation he was the commander of.

When the war was over, he was awarded a bravery silver medal for his deeds in the Resistance. Together with Antonio Predieri he published a book on the Resistance entitled 11 Agosto.

In 1946, Enrico Vallecchi published Carlo’s first novel: Il Migliore e l'Ultimo. Carlo lived at Arcetri and worked in Florence for Vallecchi, at the Advertising & Development office. The following year he moved to Florence, via Pietra Piana, and started to write a text entitled Il ragazzo (The Boy) for a literary award held in Venice. It was the first core of what would later become Fabrizio Lupo. It is during these years that Carlo began to give expression to his homosexuality, which he had been conscious of for a long time and remained a constant theme throughout his work. His second novel, La difficile speranza,(1947)won the Paraggi prize.

He began to travel to Paris, where, between 1949 and 1950, he stayed at the Hotel Racine. In 1949 La difficile espérance came out, published by Editions du Rocher, in Lois Bonalumi’s translation.

In 1950 he met Michel, in the following works often called “The Image”, Fabrizio Lupo’ Laurent. With Michel he spent a short holiday at the isle of Giglio, then he settled at the Hotel Racine and finished the draft of Fabrizio Lupo. He received the Charles Veillon award for the French edition of Il giuoco. The extraordinary success of Le ciel et la terre, published by Gabriel Marcel in Plon’s collection Feux Croisés, with its more than one million copies sold all over the world, allowed him to buy a flat in rue Chappe, in Monmartre.

Between 1951 and 1953, running after Michel, Carlo travelled to Canada and Mexico. Here, in 1954, their relationship broke off. There began for Carlo a period of depression and progressive detachment from Catholicism.

Settled down in Mexico City, he associated with Diego Rivera, the poetess Guadaupe Amor, Carlos Benitez , Machila Armida, José Benitez, Rufino Tamayo. He lived alone in a flat in the elegant neighbourhood Polanco area.

He started to write for the daily paper Hoy, then, in1955, became the editor for the Mexican paper Siempre! There appeared in his life Juanito, with whom the lived first in the flat in calle Leonardo da Vinci, then, till the end of the ’70, in the house in Obrero Mundial. Together with Rafael Gimenez and Martin Luis Guzman, he took part in the opening of the "Quartier Latin" bookshop, an Italo-French cultural center in the Mexican city.

In 1960 he began his activity as a special correspondent for some Italian newspapers: first Il Corriere della Sera, then Il Giorno and La Nazione. He travelled through Latin America. In November 1966 he was in Florence during the dramatic flood, on which he wrote the essay Firenze 1966: non è successo niente. (Florence 1966: nothing has happened).

He would regularly travel to Florence, where he still had a home, in Sdrucciolo Pitti, that he kept until 1955, when he gave it up to buy a new one in Livorno, in an urge to draw near his origins.

With the publication of Documento 127, in 1970, his father Attilio broke all kind of contacts with Carlo, forcing his mother Anna to do the same. The cause of the break is an episode in which the author tells how, in their Tripoli residence, the batman in whose care the boys were left used to take them along to a brothel.

In 1973, with the publication of Uomini in fuga, he initiated the movement Alcoholics Anonymous in Italy.

The process of approaching the Jewish religion, begun at the end of the ’60 and described in Documento 127, culminated in 1976, the year of Davide, a novel later awarded with the Selezione Campiello prize. The following year he began his contributions to the Mexican magazine Excelsior.

In these years Carlo started painting on canvas, an activity he would never leave.

At the beginning of the ’80 his interest increasingly turned to oriental religions, in a passionate deepening passing first through Hinduism (La casa di Tacubaya, 1982) to finally arrive at the Buddhist “landing”, on which Carlo stayed, in his way, till his death.

In this period he hired as a servant Javier, with whom he formed such a strong bond of affection that he eventually adopted him, only child, in 1993.

He visited Texas and decided to buy a house there. It is during a trip to the United States that he wrote Piccolo Karma. Also in Texas, in Laredo, Carlo had a bad car accident, in which his dog, Oliver, lost his life.

After the earthquake, in 1985, which smashed Mexico City, he decided to move to San Antonio, but, though fascinated by the United States, soon returned to the Mexican city.

On July 10th 1988 Carlo was kidnapped by terrorists. At the end of a trial that lasted all night, the kidnappers decided not to carry out the orders and spared his life.The investigations that followed never threw light on the mandators and the kidnappers’ motives.

Carlo went on writing till his last days. Diseased, operated on his heart, he remained tied to his Mexico City, where he serenely passed away on the 5th of August 2003. In his last moments, being offered extreme unction, he refused it with kindness.