LA VITA AGRA by Luciano Bianciardi


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Give me the time and give me the means and I'll touch all the keys... of contemporary sensibility. I'll give you indifference, disobedience, married love, conformism, sleepiness, spleen, boredom and indignation."" The speaker is a Tuscan intellectual with a doctor's degree and no occupation who has left his native village (and his wife and son) to come to an industrial city where he scrounges around in unrewarding and unrewarded small jobs, lives in a mean furnished room until he moves to the suburbs with his girl, Anna, and finds occasional work as a translator. This is the physical motion of a novel which is actually an ambient, abrasive monologue; he can talk about anything from lignite to sexual symbolism with considerable verbal felicity. Actually he expatiates chiefly on the everyday harassments of la vita agra or the hard life: landlords, tax collectors, salesmen, employers, doctors, priests, etc. etc. Bianciardi's book, as against the pale grey misery of Pratolini's industrial scenes, has a cynical swagger and realismo; and somewheres underneath its peevish irritability, there is a genuine social protest. His talent-- he's an inventive ironist-- is easier to designate than a readership.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1965
Publisher: Viking