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VENETIAN RED by P. M. Pasinetti Kirkus Star



Pub Date: May 6th, 1960
Publisher: Random House

Occasionally a novel of great scope appears; less occasionally one approaches such a work, despite its length, with the target that it will end, but rarely does a novel make such a permanent impression on the reader. Such a novel is Venetian Red -- rewritten in English by the author from the original Italian. Set in pre-war Venice, Rome, Corniano, and Berlin, the story pivots about two families embodying irreconcilable forces: the Partibons, noble, aloof, bound to life by love of beauty and the appreciation of the real; and the Fassolas, grasping, politically ambitious, brilliant, expedient. It is the story of their effect upon each other: young Enrico Fassola, weary of his own birthright, must live through his love for Elena Partibon and her brother Giorgio; Elena, proud and beautiful, accepts her destiny as a ""perfection of error"" and transmutes disaster with absolute grace into something enviable; Giorgio, whose every act-- a death bed vigil, even an incestuous love for Elena, the defense of persecuted German Jews, seduction, violence is, surprisingly, a move of absolute purity and has no evil effects upon him; Marco, Giorgio's uncle, has an abundant life of acts, never gestures. Against the Partibons are pitted the blind, the petty, the sadistic flunkies of fatherland and death who find sanctuary in fascism. And in the novel's world of a mystery and a search, of love in every form, the real and unreal meet and cannot coexist. It is here that Pasinetti is most subtle in his ability to accord, in the subjection of the Partibons to physical strength, their enduring victory. This book can be compared to Mann's Mario the Magician and The Song of the Volsung: its hero- to the shining hero of The Idiot. And while complex, many worlds emerge- each one complete in itself and yet indispensable to the other. It is a novel which offers the reality of pleasure and the pleasure of reality.