Fantin In Later Years

The rather fatigued appearance of FG Fantin in this photograph seems linked to the downcast sentiments expressed in a letter to a friend, Nino, intercepted by military intelligence in December 1941, not long before Fantin was interned. It was translated somewhat literally by EM Jones for the Security Service in June 1942, but Fantin's tendency to fall into a poetic cadence emerges clearly. It contrasts the hopes of his revolutionary youth back in subtemperate Northern Italy with the realities of life in the tropics, which he was beginning to find tiresome. Indeed Fantin here looks and sounds as if he were depressed. It needs also to be remembered that this was the lowest point of the war for the Allies.

Dear Ones, No good wishes for the time when the good memories of times past were wont to be recalled at our houses among good friends with the snow driving outside. No good wishes for the time when the new year was beginning with the promise of being better than the old. Today from these lands silent under the lashing rays of the tropical sun, with the monotony of a night that is too long, there is only a curse for the evil times. This life is sad. It is too long for a sojourn in these lands. The times are too dark for good wishes...

Also translated at the same time was an undated letter to Fantin by his comrade Giuseppe Da Corte, apparently a reply to a letter from Fantin expressing similar sentiments to that above. It is an affectionate letter signed `Beppe & Lily' from a couple who clearly cared for Fantin. Here the translation has been rendered more idiomatic:

Dear Fantin, I received your letter some time ago. I appreciate that you are tired of that warm land, but courage! Try to settle your affairs and then return to Victoria as the climate is better...The war is growing ever fiercer, but we hope Russia will resist and that Hitler and his offsider will have the worst of it. Are you thinking of returning after the cutting?

Photo from Panizzon Family collection.