THE SEVEN MADMEN by Roberto Arlt


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This new translation restores to English The Seven Madmen (paperback original $14.99; Mar.; 249 pp.; 1-85242-592-X): This new translation restores to English a classic (1929) Argentinian novel whose author (1900—42). the son of German immigrants, wryly memorialized the polyglot vitality of Buenos Aires as a menacing objective correlative of his own—and, by extension, modern man’s—alienation and psychic disintegration. Arlt’s rootless protagonist Remo Erdosain (who appears elsewhere in his fiction) is an “underground man” recognizably akin to Dostoevsky’s and Kafka’s antiheroes; a romantic whose (very literal) search for his soul brings him into contact with variously anarchic “madmen” (including a eunuch, an astrologer, and an unforgettably misanthropic pimp) whose urgent, distracted voices blend in a cockeyed symphony of cynicism and despair. Undoubtedly a very influential book and, in its engagingly perverse way, a kind of masterpiece.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-85242-592-X
Publisher: Serpent’s Tail
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1999