cover image Requiem: A Hallucination

Requiem: A Hallucination

Antonio Tabucchi. New Directions Publishing Corporation, $15.95 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-8112-1270-0

On a sweltering Sunday in July, an Italian writer awaits a midnight rendezvous on a Lisbon quay with the spirit of a dead poet. The nameless narrator of this surreal dreamscape, who anxiously anticipates the appearance of his deceased friend and literary forebear, is Tabucchi himself, and the poet, though never named, is probably Portuguese modernist Fernando Pessoa, whose works Tabucchi, a champion of Portuguese literature, has translated. Chance encounters, ambivalent symbols, black humor and nonrational events pervade the narrative as Tabucchi's alter-ego meets his father as a young sailor; the ghost of Isabel, a former lover who committed suicide; Tadeus, who may have been the father of the child Isabel was carrying; and other colorful figures, alive and dead. Finally, Tabucchi meets his revered poet friend to discuss Kafka, postmodernism and the future of literature. Winner of the 1991 Italian PEN Prize, this playful bagatelle, translated from the original Portuguese, is partly an homage to Portuguese culture, partly a mellow autobiographical fantasy. (May)