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That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana

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3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,818 ratings  ·  162 reviews
In a large apartment house in central Rome, two crimes are committed within a matter of days: a burglary, in which a good deal of money and precious jewels are taken, and a murder, as a young woman whose husband is out of town is found with her throat cut. Called in to investigate, melancholy Detective Ciccio, a secret admirer of the murdered woman and a friend of her husb ...more
Paperback, NYRB Classics, 388 pages
Published February 27th 2007 by NYRB Classics (first published June 1957)
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Vit Babenco
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana demonstrates two distinguished peculiarities – dark sarcasm of the author and the extremely extravagant language of narration. And in general the novel may be considered as an antithesis to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
This is a portrait of the investigator:
And then he used to say, but this a bit wearily, “you're sure to find skirts where you don't want to find them.” A belated Italian revision of the trite “cherchez la femme.” And then he seemed to repen
...more
Cosimo
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gli affari tenebrosi

“Perché Ingravallo, similmente a certi nostri filosofi, attribuiva un'anima, anzi un'animaccia porca, a quel sistema di forze e di probabilità che circonda ogni creatura umana, e che si suol chiamare destino”.

Un romanzo poliziesco, ma anche un romanzo filosofico, scrisse Calvino introducendo il Pasticciaccio: basato sulla concezione che non si può spiegare nulla se ci si limita a cercare una causa per ogni effetto, perché ogni effetto è determinato da una molteplicità di caus
...more
Barry Pierce
Nov 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
This novel is the perfect example of "lost in translation". Nearly every page has a footnote which has to explain a joke that doesn't work in English or tell you that Gadda is basically subtweeting Mussolini here. I'm sure in its original language this novel is a masterful critique of Italian politics that inspired both Calvino and Pasolini. However, in English, this novel is like walking into a joke and only hearing the punchline.
Tony
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
We are introduced to Don Ciccio in the opening sentence. His real name is Officer Francesco Ingravallo, a homicide detective in 1927 Rome. So we know immediately that someone will be murdered anon and that Don Ciccio will be tasked with solving the crime. But this will not be classic noir and Don Ciccio would not be recognized by readers of P.D. James, nor by viewers of The Pink Panther. He is neither buffoon nor super-sleuth. Though young as detectives go, and envied, he mostly seems tired. He ...more
Giò
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lasciate perdere le prefazioni, le postfazioni e gli studi di Contini e soci. Ignorate gli articoli di Citati e Pasolini. Fregatevene di chi analizza il Gadda caleidoscopico, barocco e modernista. Ma leggete questa meraviglia; potete anche solo aprire il libro a caso e leggerne poche pagine per rimanerne stregati.
E poi qualcuno insiste a dir che gli ingegneri sono aridi!
Steven Godin
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: italy, crime, fiction
There was indeed an awful mess on the Via Merulana, unfortunately, for anyone living outside Rome's protective bubble, there is also a bit of mess, with Gadda's writing. In fact, those who don't reside in Italy as a whole will find huge lumps of this almost unreadable.

A novel about Rome, for Rome (unless you know your way around it intimately) but written by a non-Roman, Carlo Emilo Gadda, a Milanese native who is closely associated with the bourgeoisie of milan, writes mostly in Roman dialect,
...more
Marica
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italiani
L'anello col topaccio
Questo è il mio primo libro di Gadda ed è stata una bellissima sorpresa!
Poiché ha fama di essere un autore difficile, me ne ero sempre tenuta lontana, ma l'ho trovato piacevolissimo. Dirò di più: mi fa ridere. E' un libro insolito, che parte come un giallo e tratteggia delitto e commissario. Ma è molto di più: il lato poliziesco risulta poi trascurabile. E' un fantastico documentario nella provincia di Roma dell'anno 1927, a partire dal capo di stato che è una macchietta in
...more
William2
Mar 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 20-ce, italy, translation, rome
The only problem is that the novel is so Italian that the English-language reader's at sea most of the time. There simply aren't enough footnotes. This reminds me of reading Martin Amis's Lionel Asbo: State of England. The problem there was British slang. Half a dozen slang references per page — with all the Googling — made for tough sledding. Same problem with Vladimir Nabokov's Glory. I know a bit about Russian history but not enough to plumb that book in a single reading. So a problematic rea ...more
Neva
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've waited for so long to be able to read this one in original. It was worth learning Italian language and culture for decades to be able get to know this book in all its dialectal and cultural richness. Intelligent, inventive, passionate prose: I am so sorry a huge part of it is impossible to turn into other language, otherwise I would gladly translate it into Bulgarian.

"Raccolte a tulipano le cinque dita della mano destra, altalenò quel fiore nella ipotiposi digito-interrogativa tanto in uso
...more
ferrigno
Oct 01, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ce vulisse uno caa stentorea boce der buce in fez che me sbraitasse dinta n'orecchio: "Leggi, a disgraziato: leggi!"

So' appena sciuto, agghiummolato e abbacinato, ma pe' gnente allettato, dalla stolida computazione de' caratteri a stampa su carta - e pure cartaccia de stracci de quelli usati daa portinara de via Merulana (mannaggia a li morti de l'editore tirchio) - de mezzo Pasticciaccio der Gadda.
Mezzo: che ppe leggello tutto mi ce vulisse 'na fornitura de mafarde col rosbiffe: congrua e costa
...more
Roberto
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italia

Gnommeri e garbugli

Un fantastico esercizio di stile, geniale, interessante e sorprendente. Un utilizzo delle lingue (dialetto romano, napoletano, veneto, lombardo, latino, francese, inglese) impressionante, ricercatissimo e magistrale. Una ironia studiata, nascosta tra le righe, latente, irresistibile in molto passi. Alcune pagine sono memorabili.

La trama è volutamente complessa, stratificata e aggrovigliata per far risaltare ancora di più lo stile linguistico. Un romanzo senza protagonisti, un
...more
Antonella
Sep 02, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giro-d-italia-1
Lei è tropp'istruito, sor dottó: me pare 'n maestro de scola.

Pure di più....

Tra divagazioni, virtuosismi e giuochi letterari (siete pregati di munirvi di dizionario), più o meno ironici riferimenti politici con annesse metafore (specchio nero del tempo!), contaminazioni dialettali (e passi, seppure stravolte e storpiate...) e linguistiche (senza traduzione [🤔]... vista l'aria generale, ho abbondantemente sorvolato, beata ignoranza...), de quer brutto pasticciaccio a conti fatti ce n'è ben poco.
G
...more
Calandrino_Tozzetti

Non starò qui a ripetere parole altrui: un giallo senza un finale non può definirsi tale; un poliziesco senza assassino non è un poliziesco. Semplicemente, è altra cosa: e altra cosa vuole essere Il pasticciaccio.

Ecco quindi che mi accingo a scrivere su di uno dei romanzieri prediletti della mia giovinezza, il Gadda da Milano, che qui ambienta nella Roma fascista quello che è il suo ingorgo di parole per eccellenza; il significante portato alle sue estreme conseguenze pur non rinunciando al suo
...more
Maru Kun
A modernist murder mystery set in fascist Italy. Fantastic - what could possibly go wrong? Untranslatability, that's what.

If you don't speak the language it's tricky to tell whether or not something is untranslatable, but when, half way through a somewhat bizarre three-page one-paragraph digression the footnotes informed me that the whole passage was a play on the similarity between the Italian words for light (la luce) and big toe (l'alluce), I begun to suspect my lack of colloquial Italian mea
...more
charta
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lo gnommero della vita
Il "Palazzo degli Ori", allocato nella centralissima via Merulana del periodo fascista è perno di questo pasticciaccio.
In nomen omen, per citare gli antichi, la narrazione non ha ordine né linearità e svicola dai consueti canoni del giallo.
A dispetto di una formazione prettamente scientifica e dei luoghi comuni a ciò connessi (Gadda era ingegnere) questo romanzo racchiude il caos del mondo e, caoticamente, lo dispiega ai nostri occhi attraverso un pastiche linguistico raffi
...more
Giovanna
Francamente orribile.
Procyon Lotor
Rara Recensione Remixata - armonia di P.Lotor [contrappunto di Dinahrose] L'unica scusa che avete per non leggerlo � che non leggete nulla, nemmeno la lista della spesa, nemmeno l'elenco del telefono, l'orario dei treni o il bollettino ippico. Nulla. [leggendolo scriverete pezzi di pagine, capitoli, capitolando, frammenti di frasi estrapolate, sulla pagina dell�orario dei treni, tra l�accelerato delle nove che finir� invariabilmente a via merulana, e il muy rapido notturno con tanto di ristorant ...more
Tomas Ramanauskas
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sisyphus wouldn't envy a translator.

It is never possible to translate every single facet of writing fully: the feel, the rhythm, the wording, the meaning, the music, the wordplay, foreign slangs.

Speaking of slangs, how about Gadda's challenge: a bowl of Italian in dozens shapes. It is a detective story, unconcerned with dramatic arc. So what you are left with is meanings, wordplay, context. I can't comment on translation for I know none of Italian, but the book felt stale, despite having flash
...more
Val
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-tour
Readers here seem to either love or hate this book, which means that it will not be bland.
Italo Calvino thinks it is great. Well, I have read Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler and it is brilliant, but is also possibly the most frustrating book ever written.
So, now we have a police procedural where we don't find out who committed the crime: an interesting concept. (That is not a spoiler from me, it is in the blurb for the book.)

It is a rambling book, but not random or confusing. We get
...more
Michael Mcloughlin
Aug 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A deeply philosophical, truly profound, novel, about the investigation of a crime in Rome in the early fascist period. The author, Carlo Emilio Garda, was an electrical engineer who, according to Italo Calvino, "tried to master his hypersensitive, anxious temperament with a rational, scientific mentality, but he simply exacerbated it instead; and in his writing he gave vent to his irascibility, his phobias, his fits of misanthropy, which in his everyday life he repressed behind the mask of cerem ...more
SurferRosa
Dec 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italiana
Il topaccio, il topazzio e il topazio

1.
Lo inseguo per la campagna, per i campi e dentro ai tuguri, lungo i binari della ferrovia, infinitamente convergenti. Non lo acchiappo. Lo inseguo per i piani del palazzo – scala A e scala B – nell'appartamento della Menegatti, o Menecazzi, o Menegazzi, è lo stesso, nell'appartamento della Liliana, ma non lo acchiappo. Lo inseguo per le strade dell'urbe, nei vicoli sudici, al mercato. Non lo acchiappo. Mi arrendo e mi consolo con un panino col rosbiffe, o u
...more
Paola
Tre stelle, forse tre e mezza ma non ne sono sicura...
Troppe considerazioni contrastanti: da una parte si tratta di un libro che, nella sua assoluta mancanza di immediatezza, quando finalmente ti riesce a rapire ti porta persino a pensare con il gergo dei suoi personaggi, con quel "romanesco" arricchito da un linguaggio a tratti molto ricercato e perfino tecnico (nel quale traspaiono completamente gli studi ingegneristici di Gadda); dall'altra parte, invece, questo suo essere così difficile mi
...more
Ubik 2.0
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Meglio tacere che esprimersi debolmente”

Ovvero, non mi sento in grado di formulare un parere articolato su un’opera così invadente: piacere, fatica, vertigine, divertimento, sconcerto, curiosità, smarrimento si sono alternati nella mia mente durante queste due settimane di lettura.
Imperdibile, comunque.

Simon
Jul 01, 2008 marked it as unfinished
A very distinctive book. I don't know that I liked it exactly, but it's ingenious. I won't grade it.
Andy Weston
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Within this lurks a fine novella. Gadda’s descriptions of everything are lengthy and after a while verge on boring.

This is one of the New York Review of Books classics which I have recently embarked upon. It could be that there series of classics has become so successful that in the attempt to find more there are one or two sneaking on to their lists that are not quite at the standard. I have read maybe ten and it is the first that I haven’t given 5 stars to.

This is the story of an apartment b
...more
Anna Kramer
Sep 18, 2015 rated it liked it
In theory, this book is fascinating, a murder mystery written without a conclusion because the conclusion is irrelevant. In practice, the story is a collection of distracted ramblings, difficult to follow and without driving tension or purpose. Gadda prides himself on his elevated language, elaborate metaphors, and obscure allusions, much of which disappears in this translated text. I can sense the underlying satire, but understanding the nuance is beyond me, requiring an in-depth comprehension ...more
Massimiliano Laviola
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italiana
Su una trama molto semplice, un thriller senza soluzione, Gadda costruisce un romanzo monumentale, una sorta di simbolo della complessità moderna.
La parola giusta per definirlo è quella usata da Calvino nella sua ultima sesta lezione: molteplicità.
Personalmente, al contrario di quello che leggo nelle varie recensioni, l'ho trovato piacevole da leggere. Certo non è un libro di intrattenimento, soprattutto nella seconda parte la lettura richiede concentrazione per seguire i mille rivoli in cui la
...more
Patryx
Di fronte alle pietre miliari della letteratura è sempre difficile esprimere un'opinione, soprattutto se la pietra in questione avrei voluto lanciarla dalla finestra più e più volte; invece mi sono armata di santa pazienza e questo romanzo l'ho letto tutto.
Il pasticciaccio a me è piaciuto veramente poco nonostante alcuni spezzoni veramente notevoli, soprattutto quelli scritti utilizzando molti termini dialettali o d’ispirazione dialettale; in generale mi sembra che l’aspetto linguistico (invenz
...more
Lawrence
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was a little suspicious of "That Awful Mess, etc." because Italo Calvino, who wrote the introduction, is not one of my favorites. But, by page two, I was propelled into the book when I read the short commentary on Doctor Ingravallo's landlady and heard her say that, if anyone thought she'd rent to just anybody, "I'd throw myself in the river." This was just the right note of talkative, daily-life hyperbole for me. Then, I just enjoyed.

Here is why I liked the book. First, its most immediate cha
...more
Tegghiaio
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No fue una lectura sencilla, me tomó tres semanas finalizar un libro de apenas 300 páginas, pero al menos lo hice bien, como dicta la norma, echando mano del diccionario y de internet cada vez que aparecía una palabra que no conocía o saltaba una referencia que no captaba.

Aquí en Goodreads leí una reseña por parte de un lector italiano que comparaba este libro con Ulises y Juan Ramón Masoliver, el traductor de la edición hispana, dice: "La dificultad del estilo y lenguaje del Pasticciaccio se ha
...more
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NYRB Classics: That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana, by Carlo Emilio Gadda 1 9 Oct 30, 2013 07:57PM  
  • Il partigiano Johnny
  • To Each His Own
  • Don Giovanni in Sicilia
  • The Ragazzi
  • La donna della domenica
  • Uomini e no
  • The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
  • The Moon and the Bonfire
  • The Skin
  • A Woman
  • History
  • As a Man Grows Older
  • Il centravanti è stato assassinato verso sera
  • Diceria dell'untore
  • Christ Stopped at Eboli: The Story of a Year
  • The Viceroys
  • Il male oscuro
  • Testimone inconsapevole
Carlo Emilio Gadda was an Italian writer and poet. He belongs to the tradition of the language innovators, writers that played with the somewhat stiff standard pre-war Italian language, and added elements of dialects, technical jargon and wordplay.
Gadda was a practising engineer from Milan, and he both loved and hated his job. Critics have compared him to other writers with a scientific background
...more
“For her, from the Tiber down, there, there beyond the crumbling castles, and after the blond vineyards, there was, on the hills and mountains, and in the brief plains of Italy, a kind of great fertile womb, two swollen Eustachian tubes, streaked with an abundance of granules, the granular and greasy, the happy caviar of the race. From time to time, from the great Ovary ripened follicles opened, like pomegranate seeds: and red grains, mad with amorous certitude, descended upon the city, to encounter the male afflatus, the vitalizing impulse, that spermatic aura of which the ovarists of the eighteenth century wrote their fantastic treatise.” 1 likes
“The glinting eyes of the hereditary syphilitic (also syphilitic in his own right), the illiterate day-laborers’ jaws, the rachitic acromegalic face already filled the pages of Italia Illustrata: already, once they were confirmed, all the Maria Barbisas of Italy were beginning to fall in love with him, already they began to invulvulate him, Italy’s Magdas, Milenas, Filomenas, as soon as they stepped down from the altar: in white veils, crowned with orange blossoms, photographed coming out of the narthex, dreaming of the orgies and the educatory exploits of the swinging cudgel. The ladies, at Maiano or at Cernobbio, were already choking in venereal sobs addressed to the strengthener of Italy.” 1 likes
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