THE TWILIGHT OF THE ELEPHANT AND OTHER NOVELS: A Vittorini Omnibus by Elio Vittorini

THE TWILIGHT OF THE ELEPHANT AND OTHER NOVELS: A Vittorini Omnibus

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A collection of three short but superb, often extremely humorous novels of the major Italian writer. ""In Sicily"" recounts a son's impulsive visit to his mother in a small town that takes seemingly forever to reach; he watches her give penicillin shots to the neighbors as she rails alternately and confusingly about her absent husband and her admired father. ""The Twilight of the Elephants"" continues this obsession with the daughter/father relationship as a middle-aged lady's semi-crippled father, beloved for his past feats of strength (like an elephant, he could uproot trees) yet hated because of his consumption of much-needed food, finally lives up to the mythic role he himself has created by attempting to disappear into the woods, to die. ""La Garabaldina"" is again a return to Sicily, this time of an unfairly ridiculed soldier who is ambivalently befriended by a doughty old Contessa who took ambiguous part in the Revolution. In all these there is a kind of insouciant acceptance of an absurdity so implicit and inevitable that of course one lives one's life as if, in fact, the world were not completely arbitrary: ""Thus began a long journey by night, but it would have made no difference were I to have stayed at home, skipping through my dictionary or sleeping with my wife."" Behind the spoken surface of these novellas is the experience of the war: the endless, aimless riding of trains, the poverty, wry despair. The colloquial lively prose is apparently very much that of the writer, whose voice is identifiable throughout these three different excellent translations.

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 1973
Publisher: New Directions