Thus Spake Bellavista: Naples, Love, and Liberty

Luciano De Crescenzo, Author, Avril Bardoni, Translator Grove/Atlantic $17.95 (206p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1077-0
A bestselling novelist in Europe, DeCrescenzo is here translated into English for the first time. And what a rollicking, erudite, irreverent debut it is, with the eponymous Bellavista taking the role of Socratic interlocutor and, often, responder. The format is striking: long, excoriating diatribes against power and its alter ego, sex, alternating with intimate vignettes of everyday Neapolitan life. Professor Bellavista harangues his listenersthree out-of-work family men, a pompous doctor and an engineer from Rome, who serves as narratorabout the virtues of Naples, City of Love, whose only religion is soccer and whose denizens unknowingly practice the Epicurean Middle Way. There his audience hits the streets, to take the city's pulse, and talk gives way to action. We meet Gennarino the kamikaze, who manages to be hit by a bus every week or so in order to collect insurance, a specialty he has honed to such high art that the insurance companies offer him a retainer to stop suing them. Although philosophical argument and classical reference sometimes pall, such leavening anecdotes, as well as the fluid translation, keep things spinning. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1989
Release date: 02/01/1989
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