cover image Dialogues with Leuco

Dialogues with Leuco

Cesare Pavese. Eridanos Press, $19.95 (201pp) ISBN 978-0-941419-38-3

The mythological dimension that informs such writings of Italian neo-realist Pavese (1908-1950) as his novel The Moon and the Bonfires is given full range in these exquisite retellings of Greek legends. Each piece is staged as a dialogue between two classical figures, a presentation which emphasizes that myth is a forum for existential drama--free will vs. destiny, e.g.--and a tool to confront the tragic. Of the players here, only Oedipus, glimpsed when he is ignorant of his identity, dares to say, ``For me in my life, there is nothing ambiguous or wasted.'' Wiser speakers, like Prometheus, know that ``man is pity and terror. Nothing else.'' Although Pavese presumes the reader's fluency in the works of Homer, Hesiod and the Greek tragedians, those unfamiliar with the classics will nonetheless profit from his lucidity and be persuaded when a satyr here argues that the ``future lives of mortals will be modeled upon the imaginative shape they give to their terror.'' This lissome translation was first published in 1965. (May)