Short summary - To Each His Own - Leonardo Sciascia

Italy literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - To Each His Own
Leonardo Sciascia

The action takes place in post-war Italy, in a small Sicilian town. Apothecary Manno receives an anonymous letter, where he is threatened with death, without going into an explanation of the reasons. The pharmacist's friends - Don Luigi Corvaia, notary Pecorilla, teacher Laurana, lawyer Rosello, Dr. Rosho - consider the anonymous letter a cruel joke. Manno himself is inclined to think that they want to scare him in order to discourage him from hunting - in a few days the season opens, and envious people, as always, itching. However, just in case, the pharmacist notifies the sergeant of the Carabinieri about what happened, and when he unfolds the letter, Paolo Laurana sees the word “Unicuique” on the back of the sheet, typed in a characteristic typographic font.

On the twenty-third of August 1964, the day of the opening of the hunting season, the pharmacist Manno and his constant companion Dr. Roshot are found dead. The author of an anonymous letter carried out his threat, and the inhabitants of the town begin to wonder what the late pharmacist did. Everyone pities the poor doctor, who suffered for the sins of others. The police also zealously take up the case: both victims were prominent and enjoyed general respect. In addition, Dr. Roshot has influential relatives: he himself is the son of a famous professor of ophthalmology, and his wife is the niece of a canon and cousin of the lawyer Rosello.

Together, the police and the residents of the city find the answer to the murder: the pharmacist obviously cheated on his ugly, withered wife, and some jealous man killed him. The lack of evidence and the excellent reputation of the deceased do not bother anyone: since it came to murder, it means that the matter is unclean. Only Laurana takes a different view: although the instinct of the Sicilian calls for caution, he in a roundabout way finds out that only two people subscribe to the Catholic newspaper "Osservatore Romano" - a canon and a parish priest.

The priest's numbers for the last month are safe and sound. Laurana gazes fascinated at the subtitle “Unicuique suum” (Latin “to each his own”). The canon is in for a misfortune: in this house, read newspapers become household items. The canon is firmly convinced that the pharmacist paid for the love affair, and the husband of his beloved niece simply turned up under the arm of the killer.

The investigation could have ended there, but, unfortunately, Laurana was lucky. This quiet and shy Italian teacher is respected in the town, but he has no close friends. School memories connected him with Dr. Rosho - they studied together at the gymnasium and at the lyceum. After the death of Rosho, Laurana experiences a feeling of emptiness and pain - this was almost the only person with whom he could discuss literary novelties or political events. Laurana's personal life did not work out because of a selfish and jealous mother - on the threshold of her fortieth birthday, he remains for her a naive and inexperienced boy who is not ripe for marriage.

In September, Laurana comes to Palermo to take exams at the Lyceum. In a restaurant, he meets a former school friend, now a member of parliament from the Communist Party. Rosho voted for the communists, although he hid it out of respect for his wife's relatives. Shortly before his death, the doctor visited Rome to meet with a deputy and find out whether it is possible to publish exposing materials in the newspaper about one of the most eminent citizens of the town, who holds the entire province in his hands and is involved in many dirty deeds.

Returning home, Laurana tells her lawyer Rosello about her discovery. He is burning with the desire to take revenge on the unknown killer. The beautiful widow of the doctor also becomes agitated, for before she sincerely believed that her husband died because of the love affairs of the pharmacist. Signora Louise even allows Laurana to look at the papers of the deceased, although she is extremely upset by the version that the pharmacist served as a false bait - everyone in the town knew that Manno and Rochot hunted together.

Laurana seeks help from the parish priest, whom she treats with sympathy despite her anti-clerical beliefs. He says that the most influential person in the province is the lawyer Rosello, who has reached a high position through bribery, bribes and other frauds. Laurana suddenly opens her eyes: it has long been rumored in the town that the lawyer and his cousin love each other from a young age, but the canon opposed the marriage between close relatives, which is why Louise married Dr. Rochot. The beauty of this woman immediately aroused in Laurana a keen desire, and now horror was added to this feeling - no doubt she was an accomplice in a cruel and insidious crime.

A fatal accident once again comes to the aid of Laurana. Thinking about getting a driver's license, he goes to the Palace of Justice and collides on the stairs with the lawyer Rosello, who comes downstairs in the company of two men. Laurana knows well the deputy Abello, famous for his scholarship, but she sees his companion for the first time. This man with a broad, rough face smokes Branca cigars - a cigarette butt of just such a cigar was found at the scene of the murder of the pharmacist Manco and Dr. Rochaud. Soon Laurana finds out that she was not mistaken in her assumptions: the man who smoked cigars is a member of the local mafia.

After the meeting at the Palace of Justice, Rosello's lawyer starts avoiding Laurana. On the contrary, the beautiful signora Louise takes a keen interest in him. Laurana almost feels sorry for Rosello and is not going to inform: he has a deep disgust for the law and, like all Sicilians, deep down he considers a double-barreled shotgun to be the best way to fight for justice. In early November, Laurana goes to class and is surprised to see the widow Rosho on the bus. Signora Louise admits that she thought a lot about her husband's trip to Rome, and recently she managed to find the doctor's secret diary behind the books. Now she had no doubts: the murder was most likely arranged by her cousin Rosello. Laurana does not believe her ears: this lovely woman is pure - in vain he offended her with suspicions. They arrange a date at the Romerio Cafe at seven o'clock in the evening. Lauran waits in excitement until half past nine - Louise is gone, and anxiety for her life is growing in him. He goes to the station square, and then a resident of the town, familiar to him by sight, but not by name, kindly offers to give him a ride.

The case of the disappearance of Paolo Laurana has to be closed: he was seen in the Romeris cafe, and he was obviously waiting for someone - apparently, it was a love date. Perhaps he will still return home, like a walking March cat. Unknown to the police, Laurana's body lies at the bottom of an abandoned sulfur mine.

A year later, on the day of the feast of Mary the maiden, Canon Rosello, as usual, gathers friends. The mourning is over, and the engagement of the lawyer's nephew to his niece Louise can be announced. Notary Pecorilla and Don Luigi Corvaia go out onto the balcony. Both are eager to share the secret: the poor pharmacist had nothing to do with it - Rosho caught his wife and cousin at the scene of the crime and demanded that Rosello get out of town, otherwise information about his dirty deeds will appear in the press. As for the unfortunate Laurana, he was simply a fool.