That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana

That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana

by Carlo Emilio Gadda

Called in to investigate, melancholy Detective Ciccio, a secret admirer of the murdered woman and a friend of her husbands, 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.

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 in the Eternal City.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.66
  • Pages: 388
  • Publish Date: February 27th 2007 by NYRB Classics
  • Isbn10: 1590172221
  • Isbn13: 9781590172223

What People Think about "That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana"

This is a portrait of the investigator: And then he used to say, but this a bit wearily, you're sure to find skirts where you don't want to find them. And this is a portrait of the national leader, a ubiquitous sign of time: The glinting eyes of the hereditary syphilitic (also syphilitic in his own right), the illiterate day-laborer's jaws, the rachitic acromegalic face already filled the pages of Italia Illustrata: already, once they were confirmed, all the Maria Barbisas of Italy were beginning to fall in love with him, already they began to invulvulate him, Italy's Magdas, Milenas, Filomenas, as soon as they stepped down from the altar: in white veils, crowned with orange blossoms, photographed coming out of the narthex, dreaming of the orgies and the educatory exploits of the swinging cudgel. With scrupulous use of details the flowery description of the corpse on two pages, for instance psychological digressions, voyages sideways Carlo Emilio Gadda manages to turn investigational routine into the exquisite portrayal of the era, place and society.

Un romanzo poliziesco, ma anche un romanzo filosofico, scrisse Calvino introducendo il Pasticciaccio: basato sulla concezione che non si può spiegare nulla se ci si limita a cercare una causa per ogni effetto, perché ogni effetto è determinato da una molteplicità di cause, ognuna delle quali a sua volta ha tante altre cause dietro di sé; dunque, continua Calvino con un'immagine intensa, ogni fatto (per esempio un delitto) è come un vortice in cui convergono correnti diverse, mosse ognuna da spinte eterogenee, nessuna delle quali può essere trascurata nella ricerca della verità. Ma il Pasticciaccio, innervato da una simbologia bipolare verità-menzogna, valore-disvalore, logos-eros, è anche un romanzo su Roma, rinascimentale e barocca, stracciona ed eroica, estroversa e inconscia, borghese e malavitosa e mitica e plebea, in uno stregonesco e terreno inferno, dove l'autore mette in gioco una partecipazione fisiologica, un appetito di realtà smisurato, il disegno di un destino come sistema di forze e di probabilità appunto: un mondo-conoscenza che è nodo o groviglio, o garbuglio, o gnommero, che alla romana vuol dire gomitolo. Scrive ancora Calvino che Gadda vuole rappresentare il ribollente calderone della vita, la stratificazione infinita della realtà, il groviglio inestricabile della conoscenza. In uno stile dove il grottesco è necessario e la parola ha tanta tensione simbolica e analogica da svilupparsi in un uso spastico della lingua, la materia romanzesca di Gadda è pensiero materiato, come scrive Roscioni: enumerazione, catalogo, smontaggio, provvisorietà, vibrazione, meraviglia e orrore sono elementi costruttivi del racconto e tutto nella sua narrazione enciclopedica è polivalente e multilaterale, la realtà e la natura sono ritratte in prospettiva rovesciata, in un gioco carnevalesco di differenze semantiche indefinite; ogni cosa segue l'istinto della combinazione. Come il risolversi d'una unità che non ce la fa più ad essere e ad operare come tale, nella caduta improvvisa dei rapporti, d'ogni rapporto con la realtà sistematrice.

Ignorate gli articoli di Citati e Pasolini.

His real name is Officer Francesco Ingravallo, a homicide detective in 1927 Rome. Yes, Don Ciccio knows: The apparent motive, the principal motive was, of course, single. Who would ever believe that there were thieves, now, in Rome? With the fresh chickens crowing all over Rome? 'Lantern Jaw' did not kill Liliana, but you know who he is, in the mess of 1927 Rome. Thirty-six quintals, yes, three trucks, left at ten o'clock yesterday. Yes, sir. Police here, we have precedence, Rome Police Headquaters. Thirty-six quintals from Reggio Emilia, Parma-type cheese, absolutely first-class! While not called Aunt Lavinia, I believe she has a nephew. Which makes her the third AUNT LAVINIA I've read about this year.

A novel about Rome, for Rome (unless you know your way around it intimately) but written by a non-Roman, Carlo Emilo Gadda, a Milanese native who is closely associated with the bourgeoisie of milan, writes mostly in Roman dialect, mixed with a brand of folk expressions, artistic, philosophical prose, historical quotations and leading Italian figures (Mussolini is used in reference to a lot of the dialogue) that he alters and plays around with, even the slightest details get blown up in epic proportions, capturing the small moments, that are then enlarged onto a massive canvas. Some have compared Gadda with James Joyce, I would would compare him with the free verse writings of someone like Pier Paolo Pasolini, in fact Pasolini was a big fan of the novel, so was Moravia, and also Calvino (who wrote a thorough introduction), that's understandable, they were, after all Italians!. But I have to say that this work still impresses me, it's certainly different, it may be difficult, and without William Weaver adding footnotes for non-Italians (which seem to appear more often than not) god knows where that would leave us, as vast parts of the narrative are taken up by native Roman's who speak the city's expressive dialect, the contorted bureaucracy of officials, the euphemisms of the press, and the colourful way Gadda portrays the vendors and markets of Rome with deep expression.

L'anello col topaccio Questo è il mio primo libro di Gadda ed è stata una bellissima sorpresa! E' un fantastico documentario nella provincia di Roma dell'anno 1927, a partire dal capo di stato che è una macchietta ineguagliata, passando per la buona società fino al popolo più misero. Ad onor del vero, bisogna dire che la prima bozza dell'opera venne pubblicata nel 1946/47, quando detto capo di stato non poteva più risentirsi.

The only problem is that the novel is so Italian that the English-language reader's at sea most of the time.

Carlo Emilio Gadda's modernist opus 'That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana' must be the hidden masterpiece of European literature that we have not yet acknowledged. It has been said that even many native Italians failed to see through the maze of Gadda's text because of the wordplay, puns, use of dialectal language, and the innumerably humorous asides that remain hidden in the midst of long, nested sentences (I am reminded of James' 'The Wings of the Dove' here!) that one fails to decipher all-too-often in the midst of the complex verbal maze. The basic element in the plot is crime, but one cannot read this one like some ordinary crime or noir fiction in the vein of Dorothy Sayers or P.D.James, but more in the vein of a modernist classic like 'Ulysses' or 'Pale Fire'. Gadda's novel had sparked interest in me to embark on an in depth reading of modern twentieth century Italian literature and I will surely take the plunge.

It was worth learning Italian language and culture for decades to be able get to know this book in all its dialectal and cultural richness.

Carlo Emilio Gadda was an Italian writer and poet. He belongs to the tradition of the language innovators, writers that played with the somewhat stiff standard pre-war Italian language, and added elements of dialects, technical jargon and wordplay. Carlo Emilio Gadda was born in Milan in 1893, and he was always intensely Milanese, although late in his life Florence and Rome also became an influence. He studied in Milan, and while studying at the Politecnico di Milano (a university specialized in engineering and architecture), he volunteered for World War I.