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That Awful Mess on Via Merulana (1957)

af Carlo Emilio Gadda

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9742315,743 (3.56)28
In a large apartment house in central Rome, two crimes are committed within a matter of days: a burglary, in which a good deal of money and precious jewels are taken, and a murder, as a young woman whose husband is out of town is found with her throat cut. Called in to investigate, melancholy Detective Ciccio, a secret admirer of the murdered woman and a friend of her husband’s, discovers that almost everyone in the apartment building is somehow involved in the case, and with each new development the mystery only deepens and broadens. Gadda’s sublimely different detective story presents a scathing picture of fascist Italy while tracking the elusiveness of the truth, the impossibility of proof, and the infinite complexity of the workings of fate, showing how they come into conflict with the demands of justice and love. Italo Calvino, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Alberto Moravia all considered That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana to be the great modern Italian novel. Unquestionably, it is a work of universal significance and protean genius: a rich social novel, a comic opera, an act of political resistance, a blazing feat of baroque wordplay, and a haunting story of life and death.… (mere)
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» Se også 28 omtaler

Engelsk (9)  Italiensk (8)  Hollandsk (2)  Fransk (1)  Spansk (1)  Alle sprog (21)
Viser 1-5 af 21 (næste | vis alle)
Todo el mundo le llamaba ya don Chito. Era el doctor Francesco Ingravallo con destino en la móvil: uno de los más jóvenes y, no se sabe por qué...
  socogarv | Feb 5, 2021 |
This isn't really a good choice for non-native-speakers to read in Italian. Much of it (narrative as well as dialogue) is in various shades of dialect, there is a lot of wordplay, free association, intertextuality and all the rest of it. I probably missed four-fifths of it, but it will be fun to re-read some time and pick up a few more of the jokes. I think I did get all the physics references, at least, and some of the musical ones!

It looks like a crime story, with conspicuous allusions to Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue", and it seems to have influenced a lot of modern crime writers, but it is obviously a lot more than that. Gadda was writing in the forties and fifties, but the story is set in March 1927 (Gadda is very precise about dates, vague as he is about other things), in the early days of fascism, and there are quite a few barbed references to the fascists as well as a general underlying questioning of the whole idea of state power. The dialect is an important part of this undermining of authority, of course, and we also see (for example) police officers visiting an illegal brothel/bar/fortune-teller/sewing-workshop as customers, without the narrator treating it as anything worth commenting on.

There's also a lot of questioning of conventional ideas of narrative — notoriously including the complete elimination of what's usually the most important element of a crime story, the capture of the criminal and the resolution of the case. That's left as an exercise for the reader. And Gadda has a lot of fun interrupting the progress of the story at critical points with apparently irrelevant descriptive passages and flights of fancy. Apparently, where most writers spend the final editing period cutting the text, Gadda did the reverse, inserting delay-passages wherever he felt things were moving too fast. It's quite typical of the whole that the policeman, Commissario Ingravallo, finally gets issued with a car only about ten pages before the end of the book. Up to that point he's been travelling by tram and on foot. There's even a ludicrous sequence where two officers go to conduct investigations in the countryside on a motorcycle. When they arrest two suspects, they have to commandeer a horse and cart to transport them back to the station (it's not made clear how they get the motorbike back...).

Opinions about Gadda's sexuality seem to vary, but the motorbike passages at least have a very strong homoerotic flavour about them, with a lot of stuff about gleaming uniforms and throbbing machinery between the legs (think Tom of Finland...). And there's also a bit in the early part of the book where a bachelor civil servant gets very nervous when the police ask questions about the unusual number of delivery boys calling at his apartment ("Well, you can't expect someone in my position to walk through the streets carrying a ham and a bottle of olive oil...").

A very interesting book, but one it isn't easy to make sense of! ( )
1 stem thorold | May 6, 2020 |
853.912 GAD
  ScarpaOderzo | Apr 13, 2020 |
Not a fan of overly florid writing styles. If you're into that kind of thing then it's probably a treat with all its dialect, rambling and flourishes. Me, I've got some Flannery O'Conner to read instead, so I only made it 14 of the way through this. ( )
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
Romanzo decisamente difficile, da leggere ma soprattutto da giudicare. L'ambientazione, le descrizioni la resa dei personaggi e lo stile di scrittura sono indubbiamente di gran valore. Il finale lascia un po' dubbiosi sul fatto che potesse essere reso meglio. Analizzandolo invece con i canoni del romanzo giallo o poliziesco non lascia molto invece, la trama e' molto frammentata da descrizioni e divagazioni che, sebbene rappresentino il piatto forte del romanzo e lo avvicinino ad essere un capolavoro dell'ultima letteratura italiana, ne rendono la lettura estremamente faticosa: si arriva infatti prima della meta' del romanzo a dimenticarci del delitto e a mandare avanti poco agevolmente la lettura solo gustando le ambientazioni e i linguaggi usati. La critica letteraria probabilmente non sbaglia ad avvicinarlo al capolavoro, ma per i canoni del giallo e' quasi totalmente fuori genere, ed e' sicuramente inadatto per una lettura poco impegnata. ( )
1 stem Mlvtrglvn | Jan 5, 2018 |
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Gadda, Carlo Emilioprimær forfatteralle udgaverbekræftet
Calvino, ItaloIntroduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Denissen, FransOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Gelli, Pieromedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Pinotti, Giorgionota dimedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Weaver, WilliamOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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Everybody called him Don Ciccio by now.
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In a large apartment house in central Rome, two crimes are committed within a matter of days: a burglary, in which a good deal of money and precious jewels are taken, and a murder, as a young woman whose husband is out of town is found with her throat cut. Called in to investigate, melancholy Detective Ciccio, a secret admirer of the murdered woman and a friend of her husband’s, discovers that almost everyone in the apartment building is somehow involved in the case, and with each new development the mystery only deepens and broadens. Gadda’s sublimely different detective story presents a scathing picture of fascist Italy while tracking the elusiveness of the truth, the impossibility of proof, and the infinite complexity of the workings of fate, showing how they come into conflict with the demands of justice and love. Italo Calvino, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Alberto Moravia all considered That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana to be the great modern Italian novel. Unquestionably, it is a work of universal significance and protean genius: a rich social novel, a comic opera, an act of political resistance, a blazing feat of baroque wordplay, and a haunting story of life and death.

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