A fascinating psychological novel about the mind of a seducer . . . Lara Gochin Raffaelli has performed a real service by restoring Pleasure to an English-speaking public, or rather giving it to us, in effect, for the first time. . . . In the wake of Pleasures spectacular and scandalous success, [Andrea] Sperelli became for an entire generation a type that many chose to imitateas Goethes Werther was for readers of the Romantic era, or Jay Gatsby for the Jazz Age. Alexander Stille, from the Introduction [A] superb new translation . . . The writing sparkles. . . . Raffaelli preserves the florid musicality of DAnnunzios original Italian, its muscular rhythm, and the precious constructions that can make Italian seem like a foreign language in his hands. She also provides a wealth of helpful notes, crucial for entering into DAnnunzios museum-like imagination. . . . So much contemporary writing gives us sex without sensuality; DAnnunzio revels in a finer erotic touch. . . . The real events in DAnnunzios life were too noisy to ignore, but they shouldnt drown out the voice of his writing. . . . A close reading reveals an astonishing streak of literary innovation. The Times Literary Supplement Shockingly explicit . . . a kind of portrait of the artist as an irresistible, corrupt young aesthete . . . [It] has now been lushly translated in an uncensored version. Jonathan Galassi, The New Republic Pleasure is truly a pleasure, and its potency is its own. DAnnunzios . . . methods and vision are strikingly original, and this novel confidently announces itself not just as a mere echo or harbinger, but as a fully fledged advent of its own. . . . With this new translation, the influence on the subsequent centurys literature is now shockingly apparent. Both Marcel Proust and James Joyce were great admirers of DAnnunzios work, and the influence especially on Prousts In Search of Lost Time makes itself retrospectively evident on nearly every page. . . . Raffaellis new translation of Pleasure will perhaps singlehandedly resuscitate DAnnunzio as a world writer and place this glimmering first novel in its key spot among Europes great works of Decadent literature. Rain Taxi Alexander Stille
Gabriele D'Annunzio was born in Italy in 1863. He published poetry and short stories from a young age, quickly gaining a reputation for his frank treatment of erotic subjects. He married in 1883 and had three children, but separated from his wife and began an infamous affair with the actress Elonora Duse. After stints as a journalist and politician, he enlisted as a fighter pilot in World War I, subsequently losing an eye in a flying accident. He became increasingly nationalistic and politically active after the war, and his views had a strong influence on Mussolini. In 1922 he survived a murder attempt, when an unknown assailant defenestrated him. He died in 1938. Lara Gochin Raffaelli is a senior lecturer at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Alexander Stille is a frequent contributor on Italy to The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, and The New Yorker and the author of several books, including The Sack of Rome. He lives in New York.