‘Nel museo di Reims’ (‘In the Museum of Reims’) by Daniele Del Giudice

Daniele Del Giudice’s short stories are little gems, masterpieces where the precision of the writing encounters the mystery of perceptions, and it is no surprise that his writing has a cult following in Italy and France. ‘In the Museum of Reims’ is a short novella and possibly his most famous story, one that moves us greatly for its simplicity and perfection, as well as its poetical depth. 

Barnaba is losing his sight and before darkness envelopes him, he wants to see the paintings he loves the most and consign them to his memory. The story opens at the museum in Reims where he wants to see The Death of Marat, a painting that he knows well, not only because of its countless versions, but because Marat himself used to be a doctor who healed people affected by blindness. While wandering in the rooms of the museum, he’s joined by Anne, a stranger, who starts describing him the paintings he’s struggling to see. But is Anne describing the paintings as they appear? Is she projecting her desires on them? Or Barnaba’s? Is she lying? How can colours be described? How can human beings bond over a common desire to see and share their visions?

First published by Mondadori, 1988