The Times obituary: Oriana Fallaci

From The London Times:

Fallaci_2 SUBJECTIVITY and passion are characteristics not always conducive to successful journalism. But Oriana Fallaci made them her watchwords and combined them with a brutal honesty. It was as much her fiery and unforgiving personality that made her Italy’s best-known and most controversial exponent of her trade as her record of revealing interviews with the likes of the Ayatollah Khomeini and Henry Kissinger.

It was her abundant rage and pride that in the last years of her life brought her both her widest readership and led to her being charged by an Italian court last year with the crime of denigrating Islam.

Fallaci’s sense of mission sprang from a childhood spent under Mussolini, and specifically in German-occupied Florence, where her father was one of the leaders of the Resistance. Thereafter she became preoccupied with power, its abuse and those who wielded it. She saw herself principally as a representative of the voiceless and repressed — especially women — and used her interviews fearlessly, even recklessly, to challenge those in authority.

Her articles did not read as dialogues, much less as a coolly objective profile of her subject, but as abrasive statements of her position on matters such as the Cold War or Islam’s teaching on women. This peculiarly Italian directness — what her race sees as an avoidance of the Anglo-Saxon hypocrisy of false politeness — she once justified thus: “I am the judge. I’m the one who decides. Listen, if I was a painter and I was doing your portrait, have I or haven’t I the right to paint you as I want?”

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