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Remorse is a tale of infidelity -- not merely marital infidelity around which the plot tenuously turns, but the deeper existentialist sort of lives lived in bad faith, of years tallied up and found wanting. Francesca, its archetypal neurotic heroine, zooming towards forty, smothered with the memory of a dead child, wife of an affluent, distant, old guard editor of an important Roman newspaper, begins writing feverish letters to a childhood friend, the respectable, religious matron, Isabella. In these she confesses to an involvement in an unexpected, very nearly unwanted affair, thus setting into motion a series of sexual, social, and spiritual crises, elaborately constructed with post-psychological trimmings: the isolated ego, the all too self-reflective consciousness, the multiple points of view. Those familiar with modern Italian literature will recognize the elegiac influence of Pavese and Moravia, as well as the pervasive elements of Gidean and Sartrean ambiguity. With the exception of a diary kept by Gerardo, the introspective writer par excellence, the peripheral commentator fortuitously drawn into the proceedings, the execution of the remainder of the novel rests on that modishly revived 18th century device, epistolary exchanges between the principals. De Cespedes is an ambitious and remarkably talented author, capable of a lean, suggestive prose and an authentic grasp of the contemporary ravaged sensibility, but his work, also, has a circular, cliche aura. Like survivors of a shipwreck, Francesca and Gerardo face the troubled future as troubled lovers and, alas, we're back where we began.

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 1966
Publisher: Doubleday