Journey Toward the Cradle of Mankind

Guido Gozzano, Author, David N. Marinelli, Translator, Davis Marinelli, Translator
Guido Gozzano, Author, David N. Marinelli, Translator, Davis Marinelli, Translator Marlboro Press $18 (156p) ISBN 978-0-8101-6008-8
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 07/01/1996
Hardcover - 156 pages - 978-0-8101-6007-1
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Carrying with him a vision of India inspired by the Thousand and One Nights, Italian poet Gozzano (1883-1916) set out for the subcontinent in 1912 hoping to find a bit of the magical and the miraculous he'd read about in those tales. He was also hoping to find another kind of miracle: a cure for the tuberculosis that would kill him one year before these letters (originally written for La Stampa) were collected as Verso la cuna del mondo. Appearing in English for the first time, these are in all probability works of the poet's imagination for, as Marinelli says in his introduction, Gozzano could not possibly have visited all the cities he writes about. At their best, they reveal the struggles of a man seeking an imagined oriental harmony of body and soul, art and faith, when faced with his own death. When he writes of an India that is too like the West or mired in decay, Gozzano displays disgust at colonial influence. But when he indulges in his fantasy of India, Gozzano is at his most lyrical. The sensuous dance of the bayadere, the colorful elegance of the pink city of Jaipur reaffirm for him the mystery-and the cliche-of India. Perhaps the veracity of Gozzano's itinerary is not, in the end, important. As he says on his return from Delhi, ""Heaven help us if we were not able to flesh out with our dreams the meager pleasures that reality concedes us."" (May)
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