Corsica — Jean Nicoli

I arrived today at Ajaccio, in Corsica, a French island in the Mediterranean sea, where I'll spend three days. The island and city are essentially known as the hometown of Napoleon Bonaparte. In Ajaccio, Napoleon is everywhere indeed, from the big bust that is the first thing you see when you arrive in the main hall of the airport, to street names and many cafés' signs.

Yet Napoleon is not the Corsican 'hero' I wish to talk about now. On my way from the airport to the Convention Centre, the taxi passed though Le Cours Jean Nicoli ('Jean Nicoli walk'). It recalled me that I read a book about this great name a couple of years ago, and several quotes by him have marked me.

In 1942, Corsica département was annexed by the Italians, still Germans allies in the first years of WWII. Jean Nicoli was a French Resistance fighter. He was caught captive in 1943, tried for terrorism, and sentenced to death. The night before he was executed, Jean Nicoli wrote a letter to her wife, daughter, and the people of the world. Here come an extract of this letter (English translation of mine, any correction welcome):

I can give men an advice: don't be afraid of death. It scares you because you don't know it, yet believe me: it is not evil at all. It is nothing terrible, and as soon as you are getting closer to the large black gate, it seems welcoming and cheerful.

Do not lament that much over your leaving ones: you are much more to be pitied than us. We have arrived, and we see you, at the foot of your death, struggling to catch up with us. Poor you... You are climbing, and you are afraid to arrive at the top and rest.

Don't be scared of the top. I have reached the last meters. I feel that I will rest soon on the springy smoothness of the top. You think: "how awful it must be, when you know you're going to be shot in four hours!" Well, no, you see, it is not...

0 comment(s):

Post a Comment

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin


Timeless Music
The Magic Flute
by W. A. Mozart

Timeless Reading
Les Essais
by Michel de Montaigne