Dissipatio H.G.: The Vanishing

Guido Morselli, trans. from the Italian by Frederika Randall. NYRB Classics, $16.95 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-68137-476-5
The late Morselli (The Communist) serves up an eerie novel about a man who has survived the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of the human race, first published in 1973. The narrator is a neurotic, hyperintellectual former newspaper columnist who has left the decadent city of Chrysopolis for the solace of the mountains. One night, after a failed suicide attempt, the narrator returns to find that all of humanity has vanished and only their material accumulations remain—cars sit abandoned on roads, linotype machines are “still going through their crazy motions” at his newspaper office, and public notices hang in windows. The narrator tries to telephones old friends and colleagues, and visits military bases, airports, and hotels, but finds no one. Much of the book is the narrator’s lonely thoughts: “I am, therefore I think.” While Morselli (1912–1973) calls attention to the limits of allegorical writing, as the narrator muses how others would see his predicament as a “medium for social satire,” the philosophical digressions occasionally feel pedantic. The novel is most engaging when the theorizing fades away and the narrator confronts his surroundings as nature slowly engulfs the material world. This is a powerful, erudite meditation on existence and the terror of loneliness. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 09/15/2020
Release date: 12/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-1-68137-477-2
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