Very much a mixed bag of a collection of stories. The good - The Case of the Late Pig - are very good. Others, such as The Man With a Sack, are ratherVery much a mixed bag of a collection of stories. The good - The Case of the Late Pig - are very good. Others, such as The Man With a Sack, are rather weak.
Overall, enjoyable short mysteries for anyone with a taste for improbable between the wars detectives with an air of Woosterishness about them....more
An interesting biography of a fairly odious sounding man.
I visited D'Annunzio's house, Il Vittoriale, earlier this year. Something of the man's unusuaAn interesting biography of a fairly odious sounding man.
I visited D'Annunzio's house, Il Vittoriale, earlier this year. Something of the man's unusual character and extraordinary self regard was apparent from the house itself. This book fills in some of the blanks. It also, however, provides necessary lessons from history that all of us should pay heed to. The focus is largely here on the impluses that drove d'Annunzio, the cultured aesthete, to help to persuade a nation to war and created the climate for a democratic state to collapse and a fascist government to rise in its stead.
Hughes-Hallett takes a remarkably neutral view about her subject. He was, however, even more vain, self important and insufferable sounding than one might have guessed. His politics had even more unpleasant effects than one might have anticipated.
A notorious seduced of women, he was also, by his own account, a rapist of a peasant girl as a teenager. Though a libertine and bohemian, he appears to have been more impressed by the titles of the aristocracy than anything else. In his politics, he played an important role in dragging Italy into the First World War and encouraged actions that led to needless slaughter. His 'Fiume adventure' started as a piece of nationalistic bomabast, quickly turned turned into an unpleasant enterprise with racist impluses and a blithe disregard for the people it was intended to protect, before finishing in ramshackle and ignominous defeat. It is a tribute largely to d'Annunzio's powers of self delusion and self promotion that both he and - it appears - others ever saw it as anything else.
His desire to see blood, to see young men sacrificed, often without any objective other than his own belief in the importance of massed slaughter, is terrifying. Hughes-Hallet's attempts to justify this in terms of drawing an analogy with those who suggested prolonging engagement in Afghanistan in order to secure a tactical objective shows a bizarre lack of appreciation for both the reasoning behind such comments and the scale of killing and destruction involved.
Sadly lacking is the chance to get any real feeling for his poetry and novels. The descriptions in the biography are lauditory but no proper sense of them - or why one might wish to read them - comes through. An important part of his life, perhaps the part most readers might warm to most is, therefore, unilluminated.
Whilst his art should remain unaffected by his attitude to the man and his politics, it is hard to divorce the preening, boastful, little popinjay who helped to unleash untold misery on both those he thought Italy should attack, his own countrymen and those effected by others who drew inspiration from his proto-fascist rituals and ideals. Perhaps I shall give a try one day but it may be a while before the bad taste left by its author is cleansed....more