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This combination of two key works by the Italian avant-garde writer Giorgio Manganelli (1922-90) is a major addition to the small number of his works available in English. In the 1960s Manganelli was a member, along with Umberto Eco and Eduardo Sanguinetti, of the Gruppo 63 movement, and a close friend of Italo Calvino, who provides an enthusiastic foreword that describes “To Those Gods Beyond” (1972) as a “heraldic bestiary” that “launches into a crescendo of variations on its main theme, the self-aggrandisement of a lucid megalomaniac.” Perhaps the best known of his works included here, “An Impossible Love,” comprises an epistolary exchange between Hamlet and the Princess of Cleves conducted with a “verbal catapult” as the universes about them descend into oblivion. All is overseen by gods beyond whom an endless array of other gods lie in wait, intent on torment. Everything seemingly finite or known in our world becomes infinite and unknown.
The book is prefaced by Manganelli’s notorious manifesto “Literature as Deception” (1967), in which he describes the “literary object” as something cynical, corrupt and devoted only to turning human suffering into exquisite figures of speech. This is a major new offering of work by this important writer, heralded by Calvino as an “erudite acrobat who twirls around the trapeze of rhetoric above the timeless void of meaning.”