'The seething cauldron of life, the infinite stratification of reality, the inextricable tangle of knowledge are what Gadda wants to depict' Italo Calvino
At the height of Fascist rule in Italy and following the death of his mother, Carlo Emilio Gadda began work on his first novel, The Experience of Pain. This portrait of a highly educated young man whose anger and frustration frequently erupt in ferocious outbursts directed towards his ageing mother is a powerful critique of the society of his time and the deep wounds inflicted on his generation. Set in a fictional South American country, The Experience of Pain is at once richly imaginative and intensely personal: the perfect introduction to Gadda's innovative style and literary virtuosity.
Translated by Richard Dixon
His best work . . . among the most powerful passages in 20th-century Italian fiction. The drama of the book lies in the son's extremely aggressive behaviour towards his mother, prompted by her relaxed openness to the world . . . Gadda's achievement in evoking a chaotic world is simultaneously a declaration of his disinclination and perhaps inability to enter into a direct relationship with it.
Gadda was brought up in and belongs to a time in which it proved impossible to view the world as a whole - a magma of disorder, corruption, hypocrisy, stupidity, injustice - from the vantage of hope . . . His anguish is without remedy; his style obsessive and tragically mixed.
Visceral . . . superabundant . . . comedy, humour, grotesque metamorphosis are natural means of expression for this man whose life was always unhappy, tormented by neurosis, by the difficulty of relations with others, by the anguish of death