For the admirers of Edgar Allen Poe
An Autumn Story Tommaso Landolfi
Translation Joachim Neugroshel
Tommaso Landolfi has the reputation of being a “writer’s writer,” most of whose novels and short stories are out of print despite the high praise of authors as distinguished as Italo Calvino and Eugenio Montale. An Autumn Story is his best-known work outside of Italy.
Tommaso Landolfi occupies an odd place in modern Italian literature as one of its most-admired and least-read writers.
As we know, World War II – and the Italian Resistance movement in particular – generated for the most part stories of ‘men and not men’ inclined to bitter sententiousness. Nothing could have been less appealing to Landolfi, who in 1946 frantically wrote his own war story (this Racconto d’autunno) to an entirely different beat.
Here, an undefined and bloody conflict is the backdrop to a tale of love and death boasting all sorts of Gothic fiction props, ranging from ominous portraits to demonic beasts. In the midst of it all is the innocent and perverse ‘dark lady’, summoned through necromancy and appearing before us as a full-blown embodiment of Landolfi’s eros.
Never before had Landolfi given himself over so thoroughly to fiction; his narration is flawless and whole, captivating and deceiving in its flow.
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