A Music Behind the Wall, Volumes One and Two (set)
  • Author: Ortese, Anna Maria
  • Binding: Clothbound, sewn, jacketed
  • Pages: 384 (two vols.)
  • Size: 5-1/2 x 8-1/2"
  • Pub. Year: 1994 and 1998
  • ISBN: 0-929701-39-9 and 0-929701-56-9
  • In Stock: Yes
Price: $35.00
Translated from the Italian by Henry Martin.
Specially Priced Set of Volumes One and Two (save 22%)

In her lifetime, Anna Maria Ortese received virtually every major Italian literary award, and, in a career spanning six decades, her last works became Italian bestsellers. Those who have read The Iguana know what extraordinary mysteries of human conscience and compassion Ortese's writings plumb. For several years we have been planning a fuller presentation of her work, selecting twenty stories from her many collections. These are published in two volumes, translated and introduced by the distinguished editor of our Italian series, Henry Martin. The first volume contains stories ranging in style and mode from realistic to the frankly visionary. Yet there is a steadfastness and coherency to Ortese's tales, and something original and almost entirely foreign to American writing. Can it be quite simply this: a conviction, verging upon certitude, of the validity, even necessity, of coincident or converging realities? The ten stories in the second volume further demonstrate why critics compare her works of "magic realism" with Kafka and Poe, Hamsun, Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Her deceptively forthright tales include a chance encounter with a 112-year-old pixie, a walk through Jesus and Mary's celestial flower garden, a midnight journey through the Milan train station, a haunting tale of forbidden love, a sea voyage to Tripoli, and the end of the world. Ortese intertwines elements of the fantastic with autobiography, imbues documentary realism with devastating undertones of social satire, and addresses personal griefs in apocalyptic dreams. Widely considered one of the most important Italian writers of the century, Ortese published, in addition to several major novels, seven fiction collections between 1937 and her death in 1998 at the age of 84.

"The stories demonstrate an attractive, humane voice and a magical ability to make meaning and myth of daily existence.... They make up a weird and atmospheric collection that is impossible either to summarize or to put down."
-- Booklist

Anna Maria Ortese was born in Rome on June 13, 1914, one of seven children, and grew up in southern Italy and in Tripoli. Her formal education ended at age thirteen. Her first book, Angelici dolori, was issued in 1937. In 1953 her third collection, Il mare non bagna Napoli, won the coveted...


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