Matt Clark's Reviews > That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana

That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana by Carlo Emilio Gadda
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's review
Jan 11, 2008

it was ok
Read in April, 2008

I'm going to agree with my good friend Evan and say that I think a lot of this book was lost on me because I had to read it in English and am just not that familiar with Italian history. As a result, I think a lot of the brilliance of this book just went right over my head.

Still, I found a lot to like. The first 100 pages or so were engrossing (if convoluted) and I really liked Gadda's "system of systems" theory, which I think really explains why the book is written in the sort of meandering method that it is. Also, given its high praise from Calvino, I tried to imagine what this book would be like if it was by an American writer in English and I think would have really enjoyed the play on accents, the political commentary, and the endlessly different names for the same person/place. I sort of had this epiphany while reading about the paintings of "light" and "toes," which (as the transalator insinuates) was just plain ridiculous in English, but was probably a masterful and wonderful play on words in Italian.
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