Separations: Two Novels of Mothers and Children (paper)
  • Author: Bontempelli, Massimo
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Pages: 315
  • Size: 5-1/2 x 8-1/2"
  • Pub. Year: 2004
  • ISBN: 0-929701-70-4
  • In Stock: Yes
Price: $16.00

Translated from the Italian by Estelle Gilson.
Foreword Magazine "Book of the Year" Gold Medalion for Fiction in Translation
Two novels by one of the masters of 20th century Italian fiction, published in English for the first time.
Note: Paperback edition published April 30, 2004. Orders accepted now.

Richly imbued with imagination, charming in their irony, and eminently readable, The Boy with Two Mothers and The Life and Death of Adria and Her Children are alive with a subtle "magic," presenting unforgettable characters across a canvas of European socio-political upheaval. These are classic stories which will haunt the mind long after their reading. In each, Bontempelli fulfills what he believed was the writer's ultimate goal: "to tell a dream as if it were reality and reality as if it were a dream."

Before the advent of the fantastic fiction we associate with Latin American writers, it was Massimo Bontempelli who, in 1926, defined a new literary style he called realismo magico. For decades afterward the term was everywhere almost synonymous with his name. At his death in 1960, the New York Times described Bontempelli as the "leader of the futuristic school in the 1920s...whose goal it was to create a world of fantasy which would have the objectivity of the natural world."

Jacket painting: "Cariatide Delivree" by Leonor Fini, 1986, courtesy of Galerie Minsky, Paris. ADAGP. Copyright © 2001 by the Estate of Leonor Fini.


"The Life and Death of Adria and Her Children" is a charmingly discursive sendup of the family saga in which an agelessly beautiful young matron's personality (and, indeed, "soul") is explored with disarming subtlety and quietly increasing menace. It's a brilliant story, but "The Boy with Two Mothers" is even better: here we have a fable of reincarnation, about a boy who is simultaneously born twice, to different families, on the same day--with enigmatic, disastrous, and blithely hilarious consequences for both (the understandably confused) "Mario/Remario" and his stunned "parents." Limpid, haunting tales, a bit reminiscent of Isak Dinesen and Julio Cortazar (though a better comparison might be to the stories of Bontempell's Italian counterparts Dino Buzzati and Anna Maria Ortese). Translator Gilson and publisher McPherson have performed a magnificent service here. One hopes they'll be able to bring us more of Bontempelli's strange and enchanting fiction.
-- Kirkus Reviews

Massimo Bontempelli was born on May 12, 1878 and died in 1960. A protege of Pirandello, Bontempelli was a prolific writer of poetry, plays, and prose fiction. In 1926 he was a cofounder with Curzio Malaparte of the literary review '900: Cahiers d'Italie en d'Europe, whose editorial committee...


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