By Graziano Frediani
Besides non-fiction essays (his favorite reading material), Sergio Bonelli had a soft spot for the short stories that, in a handful of pages, are able to concentrate an entire world, a mood and the meaning of a life forced to reckon with its own illusions. Among the others, he used to read time and again two little masterpieces: Amok (1922) by Stefan Zweig, the story of a passion that consumes a man and eventually urges him to commit suicide, and John Cheever’s The Swimmer (1961) (above you can see a detail of the cover of a recent Italian edition, published by Fandango Libri), that was adapted in 1968 into a film with the same name (directed by Frank Perry), one of Sergio’s favorite movies.
In this case, too, the outward contentment of the main character, Neddy Merrill (played by an intense Burt Lancaster, that you can see here in one of the movie’s scenes), conceals a harrowing sense of emptiness and the irredeemable anguish felt by the people who are able to survive their failures.
Burt Lancaster in a scene from the movie "The Swimmer".