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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Authors' Mistakes #15 - Daniel Silva

Daniel Silva has written more than a dozen spy novels. I had never read any of them and only picked up The Fallen Angel because it had Saint Peter’s basilica on the front cover.

Silva’s character Gabriel Allon was interesting and I found Silva’s writing style to be fluid and easy to read. But, once more, a book published by Harper Collins turned out to contain some mistakes that could have been eliminated with careful editing.

On page 13, Silva wrote that Giacomo Benedetti was a Caravaggisto. It should have been Caravaggista, come artista (artist), paesaggista (landscape painter), etc. He must have thought that the ending in ‘o’ was necessary because Benedetti was a man, and many Italian masculine nouns end in ‘o’, but that is no good excuse.

On page 82, to make the plural of capozona (area boss), Silva wrote capi zoni. Besides the fact that he broke the noun into two parts, he got it wrong because the plural of capozona is capizona. Building the plural of a noun consisting of two parts by changing the ending of the first part is a quirk of the language that sometimes causes problems to Italians as well. For example, some people erroneously write the plural of capostazione (station master) as capistazioni, while it should be capistazione. But if Silva had made the equivalent mistake with capozona, he should have written capizone because the plural of zona is zone, not zoni. Therefore, by writing capi zoni, Silva managed to cram three mistakes in a single noun!

A mistake of a different type appears on page 87, where Silva wrote that the Carabinieri, the Army service with police functions, have blue uniforms, while in reality their uniforms are – and have always been – black.

I also detected an inconsistency on page 384, where General Ferrari responds to Allon’s “I had nothing to do with it” with “And I still have a perfectly good right hand”. Clearly, the general wanted to express the fact that he didn’t believe Allon. But the problem with such a statement is that the general, as far as we know, indeed had a perfectly good right hand. What he had lost in an assassination attempt was his right eye, not his right hand, as explained on page 74! Therefore, the general’s statement only makes sense if you replace hand with eye.

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