In this magical novel a count from Milan stumbles upon a desolate community of lost noblemen on an uncharted island off the coast of Portugal. When he discovers, to his astonishment, that their ill-treated servant is in fact a maiden iguana, and then proceeds to fall in love with her, the reader is given a fantastic tale of tragic love and delusion that ranks among the most affecting in contemporary literature.
“The reptilian servant is only the first in a series of fantastic touches that transform the narrative into a satiric fable dense with the echoes of Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest’ and Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis.’ . . . The Iguana is a superb performance.”—New York Times Book Review
Paperback, sewn, jacketed, 198 pages, 5.5 x 8.5", 1988, 0-914232-95-9
Translated by Henry Martin
For the hardcover, go here.
"An enchanted tale of fine psychological exploration set on a magical island." — Andrei Codrescu, on National Public Radio
"Anna Maria Ortese has called up the myths of the tortured aristocrat; the abused brute; the false innocent who cannot admit his desires; the blameless sinner caught helplessly in her sins; and, above all, the myth of the human soul." — The Nation
"Beautifully translated. Highly recommended." — Library Journal
"The Iguana is a novelistic fable invented with surprise after surprise on page after page, a calmly reasoned nightmare. ... It has its own logic and respects its own archetype -- the wrinkled little bright green beast marked by fate and faithful to those who despise and abuse her. She is the archetype that excites our sense of anguish." — Alfredo Giuliani, La Republica (Milan)
"The Iguana is an excellent example of Ortese's unique narrative art, which combines realistic and fantastical elements in tales that always rest on philosophical and moral underpinnings. The translator captures well Ortese's fascinating voice.... Recommended." — Choice (American Library Association)
"[The Iguana] has romantic richness, and the magical strangeness of the island and its inhabitants reminds the reader of such 19th-century poems as 'Lamia' and 'Christabel.' For in The Iguana, as in much Romantic poetry, the line between madness and sanity, reality and imagination, truth and fiction, is blurred." — Antioch Review
"Even when Ortese measured herself against the novel -- and she has done so stupendously -- she remains a writer of tales; and her most illuminated tale remains The Iguana, for which human language has but a single adequate term: the book is a masterpiece." — Dario Bellezza
"Anna Maria Ortese is an important figure in Italian literature. One should make no mistake about it: she's a figure of the very first magnitude." — Prof. M.G. Martin-Gistucci, Bulletin du Centre d'etudes Franco-italien