cover image Nocturne and Five Tales of Love and Death Op

Nocturne and Five Tales of Love and Death Op

Gabriele D'Annunzio. Marlboro Press, $13 (264pp) ISBN 978-0-910395-41-0

These sumptuous translations provide an excellent introduction to a major Italian writer. D'Annunzio (1863-1938) is perhaps most familiar to Americans for his ambiguous role in the rise of fascism, but, as Rosenthal's elegant if apologetic preface states, D'Annunzio's ``life-long, often inspired concern with the body's sensuous life . . . assures him a place in serious literature.'' Indeed, the inchoate stirrings of the flesh, the restlessness and fury of passion and the exquisite cruelty of nature are brilliantly articulated. The precision of D'Annunzio's language and the keenness of his observations offset the melodramatic properties of his plots (e.g., a spinster's sexual awakening ends in her rape and attendant impregnation; a clerk cravenly permits himself to be used by a beautiful and callous woman). The most startling work here are excerpts from Nocturne , written during a convalescence in 1916 when an accident deprived D'Annunzio of sight for two months; the author's sensory explorations are intensified and made even more palpable. (Apr.)