The first of this Italian novelist's works to appear here is a comic, cosmic diversion in which another Orpheus succeeds in crossing the barriers of death, time-travelling in reverse. When first met, Orfeo is mourning the death of his mother, Eva, and intercepted in his leap from the parapets of a church by an amiable Mephistopheles, Monsieur des Oiseaux. In the pact which they make Orfeo is able to regain paradise, returning to live in the time preceding his mother's birth, devoid of contemporary commitments, and ""enchantingly free of everything that does not matter and yet passionately enslaved. . . to the only thing in one's heart."" His mother. Thus, along with advice and admonitions from the ubiquitous Monsieur des Oiseaux, he attends Eva from her birth to her loveless, luckless marriage which will leave her to a lifetime of tears. In attempting to tamper with her fate, he bargain with Monsieur. . . . Whether viewed as a metaphysical caprice or a surrealistic conceit, the reprise is accomplished with considerable grace.