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That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – February 27, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Somebody complained about descriptions. Well, actually those descriptions, which seem pointless at a first reading, are the plot itself. In the novel, if you read it carefully, you are even told who really killed the rich signora of Via Merulana (btw, a street which really exists in Rome, though at n. 219 there is a shop, not a block of flats). But everything is shown obliquely, indirectly, through allusions and hints that you may easily miss on a hurried reading. I'd say that this is a novel that unfolds reading after reading--just like all real masterpiece.
And I am not surprised Calvino extolled Gadda. Gadda is a slightly greater novelist than Calvino. Ehm, did I say "slightly"? I should have said "decidedly"! Obviously Calvino is one of the greats... but good ol' uncle Carlo Emilio is one of the "greatests".Read more ›
Gadda is firstly engineer and scientist; think of Primo Levi. But his training never soils his prose. Instead, you enjoy his talk of gems or physiology. For him, the novelist is sometimes capable of taking you into the real, or, because of extended narrative and plot, through the real. But at any moment he is capable of setting out before us the array of impinging forces on a given moment. His point will be set, then open, then closed again. We resolve nothing. So no ending can make any genuine sense. He bothers not with endings. Not just here, but as a matter of an artist's course.
What better vehicle, then, could there be for such a writer who mixes stone and blood, than a murder mystery? It is perfect because it is nonsense in this context. How could any writer bring off a worthy mystery in this wacky cosmology? So forward he goes, which is the smile of his plunge.
The murder mystery is the perfect anti-solution, where we all focus upon the puzzle without seeing the very structure of the puzzle. Brilliant. Ecco borrowed this move for his own superb murder mystery. This is Gadda's level of humor, and humor in the un-funny sense, too. He paints real layers on a fake canvass. He writes phenomenology across the shroud of our past certainties. And he does it well. The story is never subordinate to his world vision.Read more ›
I tried to read "Quer Pasticciaccio Brutto de la Via Merulana" years ago, when I lived in Roma and walked along the Via Merulana once or twice a week. I failed miserably. I wasn't alone in failure, however; fully 99% of native Italian speakers would have just as much trouble with it. Gadda's prose is a jangle of school Italian, Roman dialect, and words that can't be found in any normal dictionary, including quite a few that Gadda coined. Gadda's puns in Italian are outrageous -- outrageously funny, that is, if you catch them. Gadda's allusions to history, science, theology, and engineering are frighteningly broad and arcane, and some of them are simply Gaddaesque humbug. You truly do need to have a sense of place, of the physical and social topography of Roma, to wind your way through the narrative. Even more important, you need a reasonable knowledge of Italian history and a thorough knowledge of the Mussolini era, first to make sense of Gadda's anti-Duce tirades and second to give a damn about them. So: CAVEAT LECTOR!
I confess that I was skeptical when another amazoony reviewer alerted me to this translation by William Weaver. Are books like Joyce's Ulysses and Nabokov's Pale Fire really translatable? The "Pasticciaccio" belongs in that select company.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an excellent book by Emilio Gadda. Travel to Rome and go to Via Merulana Street to see for yourself- Richard Burton made a movie of this W.W. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Albert V. lesley
Carlo Emilio Gadda's name seems inextricably linked with that of James Joyce, but upon further scrutiny their only real similarity is that they both perplex people who don't read... Read morePublished on March 4, 2013 by Tuesdays with Mallarmé
First off, DO NOT READ THE $#%@ing INTRODUCTIONS. This is not an easy book to get through - but it's much harder to get through when the introductions reveal the ending and... Read morePublished on January 27, 2008 by Travis Pelt
I read the book in a new and good Dutch translation, that tries to render Gadda's use of dialects. The book has an interesting beginning and seems to be a detective work, but then... Read morePublished on August 23, 2001 by Fons Marien
The beginning is promising: one day a rich lady in the Via Merulana, Rome 1927, is robbed and a few days later the throat of another lady living in the same building is cut. Read morePublished on August 19, 2001 by Linda Oskam
It is a great, original, learned, creative, enthralling novel; yes, sure. But it is also a masterpiece of the detective-story genre it its own right. Read morePublished on August 7, 1998