A first English-language collection of 20 stories by an almost forgotten Italian writer (1883-1920), malcontent, fervent socialist, and effervescent romantic libertine. Translator Proctor's illuminating introduction recounts the known facts of Tozzi's checkered literary and sexual adventures, and links his "provincial realism" convincingly with the work of his contemporaries Italo Svevo and Luigi Pirandello and also (an obvious influence) Sicily's Giovanni Verga. The stories themselves—simultaneously anecdotal, earthy, and psychologically astute—include such gems as two knowing depictions (in "First Love" and "The Lovers," respectively) of the intricacies and absurdities of both adolescent and adult passion; a compact rustic tragedy precipitated by jealousy ("Assunta"); tales of marital mistrust, violence, and vengeance ("L'Amore," "Poverty") that might have come out of Boccaccio's Decameron
; and a masterly study of obsession ("The Clocks"). Best of all perhaps is "The Idiot": here, the mind and heart of the emotionally helpless man-child Fiocco are portrayed with remarkable ingenuity—and compassion.
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