That Awful Mess on Via Merulana

Carlo Emilio Gadda (1893-1973)
That Awful Mess on Via Merulana
Translated from the Italian by William Weaver
New York: George Braziller, 1965

Although Gadda is regarded as one of the great Italian
writers of the 20th century and That Awful Mess has been
compared to Joyce’s Ulysses, I’ve come across few readers
who’ve heard of Gadda and even fewer who have actually
read his most notable novel. I return to the book every
year or so and always seem to find new elements to
admire. Cast teasingly as a story of a police detective
investigating a murder at a Roman apartment building,
the narrative is extravagantly styled and wildly digressive
and may seem quite daunting.

But readers who’ve managed the much larger labyrinths
of Joyce, Proust and Musil should be up for the challenge.
This endlessly expansive, artfully rambling tale is funny,
bizarre and philosophic—a feast of language, incident
and character.

Ronald De Feo (member)
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