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Literature / Elianto

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Elianto is a 1996 novel written by Stefano Benni, one of the wittiest and most famous writers in Italy, whose works were also translated in other languages

The story is set in "Tristalia" (a crapsack parody of 1996 Italy), where the "Nova Repubblica" is ruled by the 20 presidents (parodies of various Italians politicians and actors) and the all knowing Zentrum. The various free Counties must win certain "challenges" with the government of the Nova Repubblica in order to keep their independence. However, the champion of County Eight, Elianto is currently recovered because of a mysterious illness called the "Sweet Plague". However, he can dream of mysterious worlds which can be reached with a mysterious "Nootic" Map.

In this background, the book follows the stories of three groups of people who must venture these worlds:

  • The first group, the "Brave Kids" composed by Elianto's friends Boccadimiele, Rangio and Iri: Using a Nootic Map found in a Eel's Can they travel to the Alterean Worlds in order to find a cure to Elianto's disease.
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  • The second group is composed by Fuku Tiger Eyes, a Cloud Warrior and the ''tiny'' yogi Pat and Visa from the Mountain County, who must retrieve the legendary Cloud Warrior Sad Tiger who went in voluntary exile in the Alterean Worlds, so that he can fight the champion of Tristalia Rollo Napalm.
  • Third group: the three Devils Ebenezer, Carmilla and Brot are send by Lucifer himself to find the legendary beast known as Kopfs, who can destroy the Zentrum (who's removing the free will, and thus the challenge of tempting mortals) from the people of Tristalia.


Elianto contains Examples of:

  • Angst: Sad Tiger went in great depression and left for other worlds after accidentally killing a cat with an arrow.
  • Annoying Arrows: Averted with the Argentone warrior Parsiphalius Duckheart, who stuff his opponent's chest with 67 arrows (60 of which lethal).
  • Affably Evil: The devils and even Lucifer, who's "not more wicked than humans themselves".
  • And I Must Scream: Purgatory is actually a huge building with many rooms, and there the souls are forced to do the same action and always the same action (eg: reading the same book, eating only pizza with the same topping, and so on) and can have only two pauses for the tea (which sucks). Thankfully, it's not eternal.
  • And You Were There: It's highly implied that most of the people from the Alterean Wolrds were connected to Elianto somehow in the real world: The three devils are either his three cats /three tanned boys from Elianto's best memory, Captain Guepiére was Pierre, a fisherman, Ermete is the same name as Elianto's beloved grandfather, Pat and Visa may be the two tin soldiers he used to play with.
  • Apocalypse How: The Desert world of Yasmerius was once a great nation and now, after an unclear nuclear disaster, is a cold desert inhabitated only by bands of cannibals and locusts.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Rollo's ambitions are to win the fight, take over Tristalia, eventually take over all the other states in the world.... and finally learn how to tie his own shoes. In that order.
  • Back from the Dead: Sort of, the New Republic use Rollo's remains to make a cyber-zombie warrior out of him, though the narration states that the only thing left of Rollo were his muscles.
  • Battle Cry: The Tango Dancer does an equally awesome and creepy one to keep the deadly Letex at bay.
    "It was as if that cry emerged from the throats of all those who died in battle, of all the criminals hanged on the gallows, of all the agonizing people, of all the mothers of the fallen. In many years of bloodshed, Siperquater had never heard a cry like that and fell on his knees, trembling with fear.
  • Berserk Button: Do NOT, for any reason, call Sad Tiger a cat-killer.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Zentrum, Baby Esatto and Rollo Napalm.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The government of the Nova Repubblica employs such methods.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Used in a humorous, squicky way during Carmilla's strip number in the "Willyougetout" bar on Bludus.
  • BFS: One of the Triperot warriors on Neikos wields a sword "that three normal person couldn't lift" with the words "My Lord thou art my Shepherd" carved on it.
  • Black Comedy: One of the challenges of the Counties was a Gypsy hunt.
  • Black Comedy Rape: After the naval battle against the Spaniards, each of Guepiére men receive "12 markdollars, a carmelite (the nun, not the flower) and half-a-spaniard each. Everything was used accordingly."
  • Blessed with Suck: Shin Light Tiger, the chief abbot of the Cloud Warriors has reached such a greated illumination that risks to fly to the ceiling if he doesn't think "earthly" thoughts. (That include reading a manga called "Horny Schoolgirls", though Fuku thinks to himself that he used to read that long before gaining enlightment.)
  • Brainwashed: Many people from Tristalia. Others live under fear. Even Elianto's family. They eventually manage to remove the control chips and return to Elianto.
  • Bring It: Bouche is ready to take the all-annihilating cloud of Letex with a jackknife, even taunting it as it comes closer.
  • The Brute: Rollo Napalm, the strongest fighter from Tristalia and champion of "Wicked fight".
  • Came Back Wrong: Trimaster, a cyborg-golem-zombie version of the deceased Rollo Napalm.
  • Camera Fiend: Iri with her trusty "Okumi".
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Huang Chestnut Tree. Also many, many other fact and notes, sometimes played for laughs.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Several characters, but Talete and Noon take the cake. The former can even believe that nuns have whiskers like the mice.
  • Collector of the Strange: Dr Satagius collects various syrups from various ages.
  • Conspicuously Public Assassination: Most of the 20 President's murders happen onscreen during TV shows they're attending, including one who's grabbed by some dancers and crushed to death under their shoes or another one that, under pretension to show his plans for solving the crisis, unveils a rifle and nails one of his rivals.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The Nova Repubblica is the crap, the Counties are the saccharine. Best summed up in one sentence:
    "There was a great battle of ideas, and in the end, there were no winners, no losers, and no ideas left."
  • Cultured Bad Ass: Ebenezer, also Rangoutan, the only friendly survivor of Yasmerius. And, of course, an Orangutan himself.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The Cloud Warriors have at least two, one of which (The Cloud Warriors' Forbidden Technique nr 2, the Geisha Necktie) is used to kill Rollo by tying his right arm and left leg in a knot, which causes the victim to split in three.
  • Dashing Hispanic: The Tango Dancer. Alias Death.
  • Deal with the Devil: The legendary musicist Snailhand Slim did one with a strange man named "Toad" Brown alias Brot. Lucifer at one point complaints about such deals, stating that now making them is far too easy as all mortals are already oriented toward evil.
  • Dirty Coward: Dr Siliconi is one in the end: even though he fully supports the corrupt government, he looks very scared and unwilling when they force him to euthanize Elianto with Letex.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Invoked by Talete, applying one of Noon's theories to the local sexy nurse: she's instructed to unbotton part of her shirt either up or down to raise the morale of the patients, and apparently it works. He's also studying a male counterpart of the female patients.
  • Dog Food Diet: Rangoutan, though not by choice, since pet food left from the zoo is the only food left on Yasmerius. He can make it divinely good though, as even Ebenezer acknowledge his skills.
  • Dr. Jerk: Dr Siliconi, a plastic surgeon who only cares for the money and would like to turn the clinic (Villa Bacilla) in a modern superclinic of plastic surgery.
    "Remember, a patient without a kidney can easly live, a man without credit card can't!"
  • Dream Land: Mnemonia, where all the memories, gifts and dreams are kept.
  • Driven to Suicide: The cat killed by Sad Tiger was actually trying to kill himself because of Love Hurts.
  • Duel to the Death: The way to solve pretty much everything on Neikos, even arguments between bards:
    "However, I do find your insinuations insulting: I'd ask you to follow me to the field, where I'll crack your skull open!"
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Carmilla's demonic sex appeal is so strong she induces lust in both male aliens and also in females and "gender-neutral individuals" who proceed to rub themselves when she performs her strip.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Nail, a nail-shaped smogscraper where the Zentrum resides.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Brot. He's shown eating basically everything, including lava-flavoured pasta, alien flesh, meat, weird animals, ice-creams and even himself at one point. At one point he bites a chunk of meat out of a jerkass alien who was harassing Carmilla while claiming that he wanted to defend her honor, but she replies that he only wanted to taste that alien.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: In-Universe, Lucifer wears a tidy suit but has the most terrible and dreaded collection of neckties of the whole multiverse. The one he's described wearing is black and white with a motif of red pipes, green/yellow hounds, purple stripes and a rust-colored spots all over it. It's so garishingly bad that Carmilla almost faints. And of course, he has the habit of asking his underlings the following question:
    Lucifer:"Do you like my necktie?"
  • Femme Fatalons: Carmilla has some pretty sharp nails.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Despite being a few-inches-tall yogi and being more exposed to the mysteries of the world compared to most people, Pat vehemently refuses to believe that the Huang trees are real.
  • Foreshadowing: When reading Rollo's bio, Baby Esatto finds out that, apparently, he was defeated only once in a match in 1991, when he was 11. It turns out that, because of the different flow of time in the Alterean Worlds, the "present" on Bludus equals to the 1991 on Earth, and during that match Rollo is defeated by Sad Tiger.
    • While on Memnonia, the kids spots, for a split second, an elevator going up containing three red-skinned children, two chinese men and two tiny little people. It turns out they were the other two groups, and what they're doing there is revealed later on.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Partly subverted, true hell is actually a huge traffic jam with cars full of sinners which proceed slowly. Oh, and the sinners are arranged in groups of discordant people and sometimes bothered by devils disguised as annoying hitchhikers. There are pits of magma around where Devils lounge.
  • Gag Boobs: Mentioned with one of the Presidents, whose corpse "bounce around like a rubber mattress" after being shot.
  • Gag Nose: One of Posidon's pirates, "Narvhal" Peter, who even use it to stab several opponents to death.
  • Gag Penis: During Carmilla's strip number, we see many, squicky examples of this, including a subversion (a huge, black man who reveals a six centimetres long round penis.)
  • Gasshole: Brot even uses his mega-farts to fly straight. It turns in deadly Fartillery in battle.
  • Gentle Giant: Brot is described ad a pot-bellied giant, but is rather good natured if raunchy, vulgar and gluttonous.
  • Gonk: Many characters, though Brot stands out.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When the Bludus gambler Ace of Swords makes Ebenezer angry enough to go One-Winged Angel.
    "A few moments later, the biggest piece left of the quintet was Ace's hand dangling from one of Ebenezer's talons. He then shook the limb while saying "It was a pleasure to meet you."
  • Hammered into the Ground: Mentioned in Neikos during the combat: Pendolo the Dirty "hammered Quattrochio of Comacchio in the ground like a nail, and made a chamberpot out of his mouth, due to his impelling needs."
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Talete begs the Tango Dancer to not let Elianto die from the Letex injection, even if the price is his life.
  • Honor Before Reason: Both the Triperott and Siperquater clans accuse each other of committing the "Ultimate Offense" centuries ago, but to this very day noone remembers what was said Offense, but they're still fighting over it.
  • Horned Humanoid: The devils, obviously enough, have horns of various types. Carmilla and Malcinea have small, deer-like horns, Ebenezer has long, elegant antelope-like horns while the brutish Brot sports a massive pair of bull-like ones. Lucifer has a whole forest of antlers on his head, hosting dogends, memos and even Christmas Tree's balls.
  • Horny Devils: Carmilla, and Malcinea.
  • Hypocritical Humor: During their last shodown, one of the two surviving Presidents shouts about not hurting the civilians, only to shoot at random at his rival's car, mowing down passerbies.
  • Insufferable Genius: Baby Esatto, son of Essie Esatto (correct), a parody of Mike Bongiorno.
  • Intellectual Animal: Rangoutan, the sentien ape living in Yasmerius' zoo. Also the philosopher fish in Posidon's waters and the Kofs itself (who gathers and has gathered all the information that happened and ''could'' happen in the universe.)
  • Ill Boy: Elianto. The plot revolves around healing him so he can partecipate to the challenge against the government.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Ermete Trimsegistus is rather unimpressed with the animals he's supposed to make, refusing to believe the kids about using the giraffe's "fifth leg" as her neck (at first), or thinking that God made the millipedes to be the butt of many jokes ("Eyeless and with so many feet, tell me how he's not supposed to trip into everything!")
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Persefone on Yasmerius.
  • Jerk Ass God: The "Shunter" is often hinted to be this, though Talete merely says that he's "distant and perfect, like a bored sovereign".
  • Just Desserts: Dr Siliconi is devoured by the carnivorous fungi on the Huang Chestnut.
  • Karma Houdini: In the end, Baby Esatto, Fido Pass Pass and other surviving members of the New Republic survive, makes a new Zentrum and start their own tyrannical Repubblic. That being said, the protagonists got what they wanted, so things are even.
  • Karmic Death: Both Rollo Napalm, who tries to tie Sad Tiger into a human knot and is killed in the same way and Siliconi, lampshaded by Malcinea as he's enveloped and eaten by the Huang tree's fungi.
    Malcinea:"Remember, the fungi from a normal tree eat small insects and worms, the ones from a Huang Chestnut eat big worms."
    Siliconi:(feeling dizzy): "But... I'm not a worm..."
    Malcinea:"Are you sure?"
  • Kent Brockman News: Fido Pass Pass and the New Republic medias in general: the News are used as a tool to keep in check the level of Fear in the country and he unashamedly bashes what he used to praise a while back with ease.
  • Kiai: Fuku's Cloud Warrior's Battlecry, used to throw enemies in fear and to call the cab.
  • Klingon Promotion: After the 20 Presidents of the Nova Repubblica are elected, they indulge in wiping each other out until only one survives. And yes, it's their duty.
  • Knife Nut: Boccadimiele can do pretty much everything with her signature knife, from carving her name on a wall, to pick a lock to end an argument.
  • Lack of Empathy: What really caused the apocalypse on Yasmerius according to Persefone.
    "One day they just looked each other in the eyes and realized that they'd no longer gave a damn if the other one died."
  • Large Ham: Discussed by the bad guys, at one point Abakuk, the professor in charge of the Zentrum, instructs Fido on how to be hammier and make his readings sound more effective on the population.
  • Laxative Prank: In a case of well-deserved karma, Satagius does this to Siliconi after the latter caused Talete's death.
    Siliconi: (sarcastic) "Oh, my, what an excellent San Sebastian you'll make! And what about the second worst news of the day for me?"
    Satagius: "There were 200 drops of laxative in the coffee you just chugged. I put them. I'd suggest you to refrain from fancy activities this evening."
  • Light Is Not Good: The "Sadic Angels" on Yasmerius, though they're not really angels, only angel-themed hooligans.
  • Little Miss Bad Ass: Boccadimiele or Bouche.
  • Living MacGuffin: The Kofs for the devils and Sad Tiger for Fuku.
  • Love Hurts: To Captain Guepiére at least, until he finally find the ring of his beloved. This is also what happens to male devils in love, since the noble and suave sentiment of love deeply clashes with their demonic and evil nature.
  • Mask Power: Sad Tiger used to wear a tiger-skin mask.
  • Meaningful Name: Many of the worlds, including Neikos (means hate in greek), Bludus (ludus means fun), Posidon and so on.
  • Mood Whiplash: The book is overall a funny and witty satire, but has some somber and serious moments in between, usually sandwiched between more cheerful moments.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Brot at one point opens his mouth, to reveal a series of teeth equal to that of three sharks.
  • Mugging the Monster: The Sadistic Angels when they attack the Devils.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: The essential reason why Lucifer sends the three devils on their quest, since he finds current mortals too naturally-oriented towards sin and makes him feel redundant.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Basically all the Presidents and many people from the Government are parodies of Italian politicians and actors.
  • Noble Demon: While not exactly evil and just doing his grim-but-necessary job, the Tango Dancer express sympathy for Talete when he's worried for Elianto.
  • Official Couple: Carmilla and Ebenezer. In the epilogue, they're masquerading as a married couple on earth, running a pizzeria.
  • Old Shame: In-Universe: Is implied that once Rollo Napalm was tricked into having sex with Captain Guepiére.
  • One-Winged Angel: All the devils can do this at will. In Ebenezer's case, he turns in a clawed monster with a scorpion-like tail. Brot becomes a sort of Stegosaurus.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: Invoked at the very last second, as a dialogue between Elianto and an unknown person taking place after his victory and before the epilogue.
    Elianto: " But what if all of this was just a dream?"
    ???: " "Even if it was, you would have healed all the same."
  • Our Angels Are Different: The "Totapulchra", as they're called, are humanoids with feathery wings, come in both genders and do have human appetites (namely, a collection of porn books in their library). They also run a Celestial Bureaucracy.
  • Overly Long Name: The Yogis Visapamachanda and Patachamandanda. Also the Devils Carmilla Drosera Carmelia Pinguicola, Brot Caolila Alcamara Daquiris and Ebenezer Sinferru Petronius Snoberus.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The Tango Dancer.
  • Physical God: Archimede Trismegistus, the resident of Protoplas and (clumsy) maker of all living creatures.
    • Implied with the Shunter, in the following dialogue between Brot and Ebenezer in the Heavenly Library.
    Brot: "I was trying to pinpoint the Shunter on this map."
    Ebenezer: "[[Subverted Trope You fool, don't you know that He is in Heaven, on Earth and in every place at the same time?"
    Brot: "Actually... here says that he's got a villa in Mango Beach, near the Ocean of Bliss..."
  • Picky Eater: The Philosopher Fish are very intellectual and sophisticated, and refuse to eat any bait, even ones made with whole chicken drumsticks or lasagna. They're eventually fished using as bait Visa and Pat, who entice the fish with their fine, oriental philosophies.
  • The Pig-Pen: All Triperott clansmen are forbidden from bathing or shaving. As a result, they all have a Carpet of Virility and their smell was compared to wet mammoths and to "thousands of used tennis socks".
  • Planet of Hats: Each world has his own theme:
    • Protoplas is the primordial chaos where everything was created.
    • Neikos looks like Medieval European Fantasy and is perpetually in war.
    • Posidon is a world of oceans and pirates.
    • Medium is a flat, extremely strict and awfully boring world.
    • Bludus, the Light Town of eternal gambling, games, pubs and fun.
    • Yasmerius is a deserted, post apocalyptical world, inhabitated only by locusts and cannibals.
    • Mnemonia, the world of dreams and thoutghs.
  • The Power of Rock: Bangio is able to use the legendary Twelve Devil's Chords, including the F-ire Sharpand the C-razy.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Rollo Napalm is shown to be quite racist and homophobe in his tirade while training. One of the political parties (a jab to the Real Life party "Lega Nord") is called "Fuori i Negri" (Out with the Negroes).
  • Punny Name: Tons and tons. Including the Pirate captain Pierre Gue (alias Guepiére [Bodice]) and the infamous Bludus quarter "Willyougetout".
    • The dinasties on Neikos are a pun on the pronounce of numbers: the main family were the Vintquater (Ventiquattro, 24) and Dodgpardue (Dodici per Due, 12x2). The two feuding families are the Triperott (Tre per Otto, 3x8) and Siperquater (Sei per Quattro,6x4).
  • Purple Prose: Used in a good way by Benni himself, expecially on the chapters set in Neikos.
  • Really Gets Around: Malcinea in the climax is seen making out with several soldiers.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Triperots/Oroni and Siperquats/Argentoni from Neikos: Their colors are Gold and Silver, the former are brutish, stinky and manly, never shaving, while the latter are more refined, cultured and clean.
    • Brot and Ebenezer: the former is Red, a crude, massive party animal fond of eating and drinking, while the latter is the calm, erudite and philosophical man in the trio.
    • Parodied with Pat and Visa, who, representing the Yin and Yang, always disagree on each others opinion.
  • Rethoric Question Blunder: While narrating the sad tale on how he lost the cherished memento of his "fair creature", at one point Captain Pierre Gue asks his crew what they would have done in his place: a chorus of discordant opinions, angry remarks and accusation follows, which Pierre has to silence with a gunshot, claiming that it was meant to be a rethorical question.
  • Running Gag: Usually involving the Huang Trees.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Talete.
  • Satan: Lucifer, the "Executive Manager" of Hell. He's not such a bad fellow, but has an extremely bad taste in neckties.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Two of the Presidents decides to leave the country while they still can. One of them makes a sneaky return pretending to be the former president's long lost twin sister.
  • Sensory Overload: The Kofs ultimately brings the Zentrum down by exposing him to "a handful of data" he had in his memory, including the biography of all love suicides from 1300 to the present, a full list of all the dialogues between drivers and cops since the invention of the wheel, a detailed and complete history of all the wars in the world and a detailed chart and diagram showing the flight trajectory of all the mosquitoes in the world starting from the Triassic. The Zentrum, unable to cope, destroys itself.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Rangoutan and the philosopher fish.
  • Shout-Out: In-Universe example, Elianto thinks that the Zentrum's holographic face resembles the mirror from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Several people including the legendary musician Menphis Snailhand Slim (who can play the guitar with two fingers).
    • Much to the frustration of the Triperott leader, noone remembers what the "Ultimate Offense" was about, and history books aren't helpful.
  • The Speechless: Sister Malcinea, the nun of the clinic Villa Bacilla where Elianto's recovered. She's actually Carmilla's sister and a she devil.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: The Nazi-chic party lead by President Mathausen Filini.
  • War Is Hell: Neikos, though War is also the only way for his inhabitants to make some money.
  • Weakened by the Light: Brot is slightly photophobe, and has to wear sunglasses. While on Bludus, the lightning is so great he has to wear two pairs over his eyes.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Subverted when Ebenezer claims that only a bullet drenched into a parson's blood can harm them (It's a lie, but it always works). Apparently though devils are weakened by cold climates.
  • When Trees Attack: The octopus-like Huang Chestnut.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: For nearly all the characters involved.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Some members of Captain Guepiére's crew.
  • Wooden Katanas Are Even Better: Sad Tiger's precious sword is revealed to be a toy wooden saber made from a wooden crate. Parodied whe Visa claims that his first weapon was a saber forged from a splinter of the Huang Chestnut tree and Pat snarks back that his weapon was a bazooka made of toothpicks.
    "Sometimes the most important sword you have is not the sharpest one, nor the one who drank the more blood."
  • World Tree: The Huang Trees are implied to be this on a lighter scale.
  • Wretched Hive: Bludus, where all kind of games, organizations and shows are avaible.
  • Wutai: The Monastery of the Cloud Warriors. They're a pastiche of chinese and japanese culture, with a bit of Hindi thrown in.