Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
by Guido Morselli, a new translation from the Italian by Frederika Randall, introduction by Elizabeth McKenzie
An NYRB Classics OriginalWalter Ferranini has been born and bred a man of the left. His father was a worker and an anarchist; Walter himself is a Communist. In the 1930s, he left Mussolini’s Italy to fight Franco in Spain. After Franco’s victory, he left Spain for exile in the United States. With the end of the war, he returned to Italy to work as a labor organizer and to build a new revolutionary order. Now, in the late 1950s, Walter is a deputy in the Italian parliament.
He is not happy about it. Parliamentary proceedings are too boring for words: the Communist Party seems to be filling up with ward heelers, timeservers, and profiteers. For Walter, the political has always taken precedence over the personal, but now there seems to be no refuge for him anywhere. The puritanical party disapproves of his relationship with Nuccia, a tender, quizzical, deeply intelligent editor who is separated but not divorced, while Walter is worried about his health, haunted by his past, and increasingly troubled by knotty questions of both theory and practice. Walter is, always has been, and always will be a Communist, he has no doubt about that, and yet something has changed. Communism no longer explains the life he is living, the future he hoped for, or, perhaps most troubling of all, the life he has led.
Rich and engrossing. . . . [Morselli’s] tale of a man whose certainties are destroyed will resonate with readers of any political persuasion.
Morselli was a man of wide culture and vast reading, a writer of inexhaustible intellectual curiosity, possessed of a rare talent to evoke social or historical settings.
Morselli’s novels...are serious social studies.... The uncanny, matter-of-fact depictions...give an eerie feeling of something utterly impossible becoming all-too-plausible.... Why works of such calibre went unpublished remains a mystery...his works simply remain there to be appreciated.
—Nicola Rossi, complete review Quarterly
[Morselli’s] best-laid schemes of mice and monarchs are presided over by a cool and witty intellect.
—Christopher Wordsworth, The Guardian
Morselli possessed the pure visionary’s exactness and constructive ability; each time he chose a subject, he punctiliously documented himself thereabout...an isolated experimenter.... He could prophetically interpret history as in Il Comunista or reverse it, with a good deal of fantastic inventiveness.
—Alfredo Giuliani, Literary Review
Morselli [was] a master of irony and a deft juggler of tenses.
—Annapaola Cancogni, The New York Times