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The Unforgivable

The Unforgivable

by Cristina Campo, translated from the Italian by Alex Andriesse, introduction by Kathryn Davis

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Cristina Campo was one of the most distinctive European essayists of the twentieth century. Although well known to readers in Italy and abroad—including Alejandra Pizarnik, with whom she had a long correspondence—Campo was a devout perfectionist, disdainful of the literary limelight, and published only two short books of prose in her lifetime: Fairy Tale and Mystery (1962) and The Flute and the Carpet (1971).

The Unforgivable collects both of these books, along with several of her essays on writers (Simone Weil, John Donne, Katherine Mansfield, Shakespeare) and an autobiographical short story—offering readers of English the first full-length portrait of an unforgettable stylist whose interests encompass both the familiar and the outlandish. Her fondness for William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, and T. S. Eliot makes her a modernist, but like these American counterparts, she was a modernist preoccupied by the deep past.

Her subjects range from the canonical to the esoteric—from Doctor Zhivago to flying carpets, from the intricacies of sprezzatura to the theophagic history of the Latin liturgy. No matter what her subject, she is as stylish as she is self-effacing—as one might expect of a writer who once said of herself, “I have written little and would like to have written less.”

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681378022
Pages: 272
Publication Date:


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