1967 – Mario Tobino

“Many years ago – I am almost forty – in the summer shade of Viale Margherita in Viareggio, there was a memorable exhibition…I left Eugenio Pardini forty years ago in the act of creating, and that is just how I re-found him, equally dedicated to his work. And what a pleasure it is to wish him every success and that he continues to pursue the path his soul dictates.”


(Viareggio, January 1910 – Agrigento, December 1991)

He was born in Viareggio, A vivacious boy, following junior high school, in order to put the brakes on a certain exuberance and an intolerance towards studying, his parents sent him away to boarding school for a year in Collesalvetti. Upon his return home, he began high school in Massa, but he obtained his high school diploma as a home study student in Pisa. Already at high school, the boy felt overwhelming emotions reading Machiavelli and Dante, a prophetic sign of his sensitivity and aptitude towards writing.

The young man with the resolute and impatient character, with a leaning towards humanistic studies tied to an admirable desire to help the next man, decided to study medicine at the University of Pisa, studies which ended with his degree in medicine in 1936 at the University of Bologna. Simultaneously to his university studies, he began his literary activities, although in a limited fashion due to time restrictions, publishing some works in magazines open to contributions from young literati. In 1934 he published Poesie, his first collection of verses, to critical acclaim.

Following his degree, Tobino was called upon to complete his military service, first in Florence, then as a medical official in the Quinto Alpini brigade in Merano. Upon his return home to Bologna, he specialized in neurology, psychiatry and forensic medicine, before working at the psychiatric hospital in Ancona. During his stay in this place of sufferance and great disquiet, he wrote a series of poems, published in 1939 under the title Amicizia. When the Second World War broke out, he was called into service and sent to the Libyan front, where he stayed until 1942: he recalled this experience in the novel The Desert of Libya (1952),which was the source of inspiration for two films: Madman at War by Dino Risi and The Desert Roses by Mario Monicelli.

Returning to Italy, he published a collection of poetry, Veleno e Amore, the novel Il figlio del farmacista and his collected short stories under the title La gelosia del marinaio, and took up various posts in psychiatric hospitals, first for several months in Florence and then definitively in Maggiano in the province of Lucca. In 1943 he was an active member of the Italian resistance movement against the Nazi-Fascists in Tuscany, and he used this experience of the partisan struggle and fratricide as the basis of his novel The Underground.

In the post-war period, Tobino dedicated all his moral and spiritual strength to the mentally ill, and at the same time, he continued with his writing activities, achieving growing fame with numerous recognitions for his works: the awards Premio Viareggio-Premio Strega, Premio Campiello.

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