INCUBUS by Giuseppe Berto


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It is some fifteen years since Berto's earlier, younger novels--The Brigand and The Sky is Red, and they were certainly very different in character from this ""immoderate self-exposure"" in an unabashed first person which deals with the narrator's ""sixty year and four month struggle"" with his father. When alive, his father didn't count for much; but after his death (the sequence following his abdominal obstruction from the table to the coffin is relentless) he was left with his incubus, a prodigious guilt. Savagely, the naroissistic naked eye spins over memories of the past and scenes in the present-- from the congenital and chronic problem of his father to the more ""pleasant"" difficulties of women; but primarily over various organic functions and dysfunctions (his ulcer; his urinary tract; etc.) which finally takes him in a state of neurasthenic exhaustion to a psychiatrist where after several years he is more at ""ease among the hypotheses of the unconscious and the haggling between the Ego, the Id and the Superego."" And even if his psyche isn't altogether equilibrated, he is ready, or is he, to assume the aggravations of the workaday world... Berto's book, midway between a confessional and a tirade, is also a bravura performance but its wickedly funny lucidity is shot with brilliance, particularly where it is uncommonly uncomfortable.

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1965
Publisher: Knopf