Vincenzo Consolo's Sicilian origins are important for an understanding of his work which draws heavily on the island's historical and literary heritage. He has observed that there is an East-West cultural divide in Sicily, reflected in the fact that the literary works of the Eastern half of the island are characterized by myth and fantasy, while the literature of the Western half is predominantly historical and rational. His own home-town, Sant' Agata di Militello, situated halfway between Messina and Palermo, is a type of no-man's land between those two realms. He has therefore been permitted the luxury of a conscious choice between myth and fantasy, on the one hand, and history and reason on the other. He clearly enunciates his predilection for the latter: 'ho scelto la storia'. 1