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By F. Marion Crawford | Introduction by Stephen Schmalhofer
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“In Sicily, everything is possible.” The final book of the Saracinesca tetralogy, Corleone draws together the Saracinesca and Corleone families. Business and romance quickly form the foundation of their relationship, but a sudden death and its devilish consequences threaten to destroy it. That threat reaches its terrifying culmination when the youngest Saracinesca son, a Catholic priest, faces a dilemma of being found guilty of murder unless he breaks the seal of the confessional. The contrast between the self-interest of Tebaldo Pagliuca and the silence of Father Ippolito clarifies the stakes of the conflict. As Stephen Schmalhofer proposes in his Introduction: “The leveling of all ideals to satisfy desires is the ground assault that clears the field for the dictatorship of relativism. Crawford asks his characters to choose the other path—to bend their desires upwards to meet their worthy ideals.”
Men do their best to tear the veil of the future, and to look through it into the darkened theatre which is each tomorrow. And many, if they knew the price and the struggle, would give up the prize beyond; but not knowing, and being in the fight, they go on to the end. And some of them win.
The Corleone name certainly owes its immortality to Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, but its literary genesis may very well be here in Crawford’s conclusion to his Roman tetralogy—a rousing tale told with befitting romantic flair.
Francis Marion Crawford (1854–1909) was an American writer of more than forty novels, outstanding among which is the Saracinesca tetraology: Saracinesca, Sant’ Ilario, Don Orsino, and Corleone. Born in Italy, Crawford converted to the Roman Catholic faith in 1880 and died on Good Friday 1909. His last words were: “I enter serenely into eternity.”
Stephen Schmalhofer is a graduate of Yale College and a partner at a venture investment firm based in Greenwich, Connecticut. Author of Delightful People, he writes from Connecticut where he lives with his wife and four daughters.
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