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Also affinity with the fairy tales from the Brothers Grim. Published in when the author was thirty-years-old, The Cloven Viscount is a page gem of fabulist literature, a macabre fantasy about a young Italian aristocrat, Viscount Medardo of Terralba, made Lieutenant in the war against the Turks and, after the aforementioned cannonball cloves the Viscount in two, his evil half returns to his homeland whereupon he goes on a rampage, murdering or torturing anybody and anything he can put his one hand on.
Likewise, when his evil half perpetrates atrocities back home in Terralba, men and women still call him the Viscount as if his rank at birth entitles him to act above the law and a basic sense of decency. The Nature of Good and Evil: Many are the examples of the Viscount committing acts of pure evil: torturing animals, murdering small children, burning homes to derive pleasure from the suffering of others.
Yet references and allusions are also given that matters are not quit so simple - in nature there is always a mingling of opposites. Frequently Italo Calvino put me in mind of the Chinese ying-yang: the black half containing a circle of white and the white half containing a circle of black. These were the carcasses of vultures mingled with human remains. You see how fine they are? A number of critics reviewing The Cloven Viscount have referenced the case of J.
Robert Oppenheimer and the atomic bomb. Ah, those artists and writers! Love, Sweet Love: Beautiful country lass Pamela with her goats and sheep and flowers becomes the object of love first for the Viscount and then for his good other half. But what is the full range of Eros when a man, even as a member of the nobility, is only half a man?
By the way, at no point in the tale do we read of the raunchy humor of having a half-penis. As I was reading, I had to ask myself: When was the last time I encountered a person whole in any way? Thus we move through life forever searching for our other half. Added to this, we humans are cut again into quarters: we are all kicked out of the present moment, forever reflecting back on the past and projecting into the future.
And yet again, we suffer a third whack, this time not so much a cut as a squash: modern commercial society squashes us in the sense that we are forever comparing ourselves unfavorably to those men and women or children presented by mass media as the ideal. So here we are: halved, quartered and squashed.
And the Viscount judges us whole? Now that is truly twisted thinking!
Il visconte dimezzato
I nostri antenati: Il visconte dimezzato-Il barone rampante-Il cavaliere inesistente