Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Dissipatio H.G.The Vanishing
by Guido Morselli, translated from the Italian and with an introduction by Frederika Randall
An NYRB Classics Original
December 2020 selection of the NYRB Classics Book Club.
From his solitary buen retiro in the mountains, the last man on earth drives to the capital Chrysopolis to see if anyone else has survived the Vanishing. But there’s no one else, living or dead, in that city of “holy plutocracy,” with its fifty-six banks and as many churches. He’d left the metropolis to escape his fellow humans and their struggles and ambitions, but to find that the entire human race has evaporated in an instant is more than he had bargained for. Meanwhile, life itself—the rest of nature—is just beginning to flourish now that human beings are gone.
Guido Morselli’s arresting postapocalyptic novel, written just before he died by suicide in 1973, depicts a man much like the author himself—lonely, brilliant, difficult—and a world much like our own, mesmerized by money, speed, and machines. Dissipatio H.G. is a precocious portrait of our Anthropocene world, and a philosophical last will and testament from a great Italian outsider.
Just as Morselli, tragically overlooked in his lifetime, was destined to be hailed as one of contemporary Italy’s most iconoclastic writers, so was this novel, his last, destined to be translated, at the end of her long and distinguished career, by Frederika Randall. I can think of few works of literature more appropriate for our acutely isolating and endangered times.
I recently had a chance to read a wonderful book, Dissipatio H.G., written by an Italian, Guido Morselli, who subsequently killed himself. I think it would make a highly interesting subject for a film, and you would certainly be the ideal director.
—Letter from Marcello Mastroianni to Andrei Tarkovsky
This is a powerful, erudite meditation on existence and the terror of loneliness.
Caustic, lonely and obsessive, the novel offers a richly speculative portrait of early Anthropocene resignation.
—Dustin Illingworth, The New York Times