Fantastic Tales

I. U. Tarchetti, Author, Iginio Ugo Tarchetti, Author, Igino U. Tarchetti, Author Mercury House $25 (200p) ISBN 978-1-56279-020-2
Tarchetti (1839-1869) has been called an Italian Edgar Allan Poe, and in these nine exceptionally well-translated tales he does indeed share Poe's fascination with the gothic. Romance and death are frequent partners. Through dream visions of a centuries-old lover, a man receives intimations of his past lives and of his impending death (``The Legends of the Black Castle''); a deformed musician takes possession of an unattainable beauty's corpse (``Bouvard''). As Venuti points out, Tarchetti occupies a singular place in Italian literature as an antecedent of the great innovators of this century, including Calvino and Pirandello. A member of the scapigliaturi (literally, the disheveled ones)--a movement that, in Venuti's words, ``saw style as revolt''--Tarchetti imported his stories from abroad, rewriting works by Mary Shelley, the Alsatian collaborators Emile Erckmann and Louis-Alexandre Chatrian, and Theophile Gautier. While the stories are marvelous in and of themselves, in Venuti's thoughtful presentation they serve as entree into an equally strange and marvelous literary phenomenon. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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