lective coercion that Man had ever invented.rnThis was both a blessing and arncnrse: A blessing, since no human communityrncan possibly subsist without arncommon, collective means of communication;rna curse, since this indispensablernuniformity of speech can easily generaterna constricHng herd mentalit}’, which arn”healthy” society should be ever ready torncombat. This was what had already happenedrnduring the French Revolution,rnwith the attempted implementation ofrnJean-Jacques Rousseau’s “sovereignt}’ ofrnthe people”: a grotesque conceptual centaurrnforged from the forcible welding of arnmonarchical head onto a plebeian body,rnbut in which (in a dramatic reversal ofrnroles) a theorehcally unitary body (“onernand indivisible”) was accorded the divinernright to impose its “sovereign will” on thernadministrative head. It was what, in anrneven more brutal and monolithic form,rnoccurred after Nietzsche’s death with thernintoxicating slogans of fascist Italy’s “Giovanezza!rnGiovanezza!” (as though youthrnand “dynamic” inexperience could everrnbe a valid substitute for adult wisdom andrna sure recipe for “national salvation”);rnand again in Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich,rnwith the goose-stepping, arm-raising, bellowingrndelirium of “F^fn Volk! Ein Reich!rnEin Fiihrer!”; and, not least of all, inrnLenin’s and Stalin’s Soviet Union, wherernthe “sovereign will” of the triumphantrnnarod—the monolithic Russian equivalentrnof the Germanic Volk, of the Italianrnpopolo, of the French peuple (each being,rnby ideologico-linguistic and revolutionaryrndefinition, “one and indivisible”)rn—was cynically used to justify thernruthless tyranny of an omnipotent Partyrnand, finally, of an omnipotent dictator.rnAt the risk of being simplistic (always arndanger in such complex matters), it is, Irnthink, fair to say that every major Furopeanrnlanguage acquired its particularrnforce, character, and “style” thanks to therngenius of a handful of poets and writers.rn(If one includes “prophets” among thern”writers,” this general “law” is probablyrnvalid for other continents as well.) In ancientrnGreece, a common but, at the samerntime, “classic” language was forged byrnHomer (even if there may have beenrnmore than one) and his successors, Hesiod,rnPindar, Aeschylus, and Sophocles,rnthus making possible Thucydides’ greatrnworks of history, Pericles’ and Demosthenes’rnorations, and the dialogues of Plato.rnIn ancient Rome, it was likewise arnsmall number of gifted writers—the comicrnplaywright Plautus, the philosophicallyrninclined Lucretius, the forensically brilliantrnCicero, the whimsically lyric poetrnHorace, and (above all) the epic poetrnVergil — who perfected a “great” Latinrnlanguage which — thanks to the administrativerntalents of Roman lawmakers, thernhardy discipline of their soldiery, andrnthe prestige of the empire, rather than tornthe dubious merits of its orthographywasrnfor centuries, not to say millennia,rnWestern and Central Europe’s majorrnunifying factor. “Modern” French (originallyrncalled francien), which graduallyrnemerged as a “dominant” language fronrrna plethora of provincial patois—wallon,rnpicard, hourguignon, lorrain, Norman,rnthe angevin of the Loire valley, the franccomtoisrnand the romand of the Jurarnmountains, and the Savoyard of thernAlps —was largely the work of three remarkablernwriters: the delightfully ramblingrnessayist Michel de Montaigne,rnthe soft-spoken and unassuming RenernDescartes (the great simplifier of a cumbersomernarithmetical system), and thernepic tragedian Pierre Corneille. Similarly,rn”modern” Italian was largely createdrnby two great poets, Petrarea (let us, forrnonce, write his name correctly!) andrnDante, and two remarkable writers, GiovannirnBoccaccio (Renaissance Europe’srnfirst great “teller of tales”) and NiccolornMachiavelli, the stiletto-sharp anatomistrnof short-term political success. “Modern”rnEnglish (if such it can be called, forrnit has retained nrany archaic features, includingrna system of phonetic orthographyrnthat is second to none in its junglelikerncomplexity) was largely created by thernbrilliant trio of Chaucer, Shakespeare,rnand—not least of all—William Tyndale,rnwho did for English what Martin Lutherrnhad done for late-medieval German byrntranslating parts of the Old and New Testamentsrninto a rich, poetic language,rnwhich makes the standard French translationrnof St. Jerome’s Vulgate sound dullrnand pedestrian in comparison. Spanishrn(or, more precisely, Castilian) was largelyrnthe creation of a single genius, Miguel dernCervantes, as effortiess and unhurried arn”sfylist” as there has ever been; the samerncan be said of the Russian language,rnwhich was pulled virtually single-handedlyrnup from its peasant loutishness andrntransformed into a lovely languagernthanks to the verbal ingenuity and exquisiternsense of euphony of the poetrnAlexander Pushkin.rnAll of which brings us back to the islandrnof Corsica and its “language.” IfrnGorsican were, in any strict sense, a language,rnit should logically have producedrnat least one writer of genuine significance.rnBut no matter how passionatelyrnthe advocates of Corsican “nationalism”rnplead their cause, this has not been therncase. One could go back for millennia,rnall the way back to the Stoic Seneca (originallyrnan Iberian, who was condenrned torneight years of exile on this lovely islandrnduring the first centur}’ A.D.) without encounteringrna major writer or poet who expressedrnhimself in Corsican. During thernlast half of the 19th and the early decadesrnof the 20th centun,’, the far larger islandrnof Sicily (three times tire size of Corsica)rnproduced two major authors—the shortstoryrnwriter Giovanni Verga and the playwrightrnLuigi Pirandello —and, in thernmid-1950’s, in a kind of mini-volcanicrneruption which astounded Europe’srnliterati, it produced a Quixotian “throwback”rn(for, in his travels, he was always accompaniedrnby a servant, and even by arncook) in the noble figure of GiuseppernI’omasi, prince of Lampedusa, author ofrn11 Gattopardo [The Leopard). Evenrnthough the short stories of Verga — thernAnton Chekhov or Maupassant of Sicilyrn— were filled with colloqrnal expressions,rnit never occurred to him (any morernthan it did to Pirandello and Lampedusa)rnto write his tales in Sicilian—for a simplernreason that was also recognized as a lingrnsticrn”fact of life” by all those giftedrnIrish writers (Jonathan Swift, WilliamrnButler Yeats, John Millington Synge,rnLady Augusta Gregory, Oscar Wilde,rnGeorge Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, etc.)rnwho preferred to express themselves inrnEnglish rather than in Gaelic. All ofrnthem realized that, for good or ill, English,rnlike Italian, was a major internationalrnlanguage. None of them had anyrnburning desire to remain “provincials.”rnStrictly speaking—and in such complexrnmatters we must beware of the sloppyrn”thinking” underlying so nruch wildrntalk about “ethnic rights,” “freedom of expression,”rn”healthy diversity,” etc. — Corsicanrnhas no more right to be consideredrna valid “language” than the Milanese vernacularrnthat Ettore Bugatti, the famousrnautomobile manufacturer, liked to usernwith certain of his close confidants andrn”lieutenants” in order to keep his latestrninnovations secret and unknown to hisrnFrench competitors. The Italians arernrightly proud of their various vernaculars,rnbut few of them are stupid enough to insistrnthat any of them be taught at schoolrnrather than simply spoken at home, sincernthese vernaculars are all variations of Ital-rn40/CHRONICLESrnrnrn