Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: May 23, 2023
A Love Affair
by Dino Buzzati, translated from the Italian by Joseph Green
One afternoon, the madam at the brothel introduces Tonio to “a new girl,” Laide (short for Adelaide). Tonio sees nothing especially remarkable about Laide, though it intrigues him that she dances at La Scala and also at a strip club, and yet in a very short time he becomes completely obssessed with her.
Laide draws Antonio on, confounds him, uses and humiliates him, treats him tenderly from time to time, lies to him, makes no apologies to him, and he loves her ever more. This helpless and hopeless love is what he is, he feels, even as it prevents him—we see—from ever seeing Laide for who she is. Because Who is she? is the question at the heart of Buzzati's clear-eyed and often comic tale of infatuation.
Laide is a young woman who has never known the bourgeois prosperity Tonio takes for granted, someone in a pickle looking for a main chance. She is a storyteller and someone, too, who knows how stories tell on people and shape their desires and lives.
Is A Love Affair a love story or is it a story of anything but love? Buzzati's novel, with its psychological subtleties, its vivid cityscapes, and its compassion, keeps the reader guessing till the end.
I discovered the bard of nervousness last week, and I confess I feel a bit nervous about recommending him. . . . [Buzzati’s stories] portray delicate psychologies, and are themselves psychologically delicate, full of premonitions and subtle turns. . . . Buzzati’s prose can have a hard brightness, like the glazed eyes of a fever patient.
—Katy Waldman, The New Yorker