What we know about Tommaso Landolfi would barely fill the pages of a hotel-lobby brochure. Briefly, he was ( a ) born in Pico, Italy, in 1908 and died in Rome in 1979; ( b ) addicted to gambling, and a fastidious dandy; ( c ) compulsively protective of his own obscurity. A lexicographic genius, beneath whose casually sadistic storytelling lies a lustful fascination with words and the dilemmas they encourage, Landolfi was a master of the insulting anticlimax, and usually managed to undermine the seriousness of his topics with an almost vaudevillian indifference. But, of course, he never liked readers anyway.

—Michael Peck, The Believer

Available October 1, 1963

Gogol’s Wife & Other Stories

Fiction by Tommaso Landolfi

In 1964, with the stories of Gogol’s Wife, New Directions introduced English language readers to the indelibly strange Italian master Tommaso Landolfi. Each tale is more astonishing than the next (what with a sacrilegious ape and an inflatable wife), though the stories are all delivered in a smooth and oddly decorous way. Casting its spell, this combination of the outré and the well-mannered unnerves the reader. The stories’ duality is the stuff of nightmares, though the author’s real nightmare, according to his champion Italo Calvino, is “that nothingness does not exist.”

Editions: Paperback

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Paperback (published October 1, 1963)

ISBN
9780811200806
Price US
15.95

Tommaso Landolfi

Tommaso Landolfi was a Italian writer and translator.  His collection of stories, Gogol’s wife, was cited as a “must read” by Donald Barthelme

What we know about Tommaso Landolfi would barely fill the pages of a hotel-lobby brochure. Briefly, he was ( a ) born in Pico, Italy, in 1908 and died in Rome in 1979; ( b ) addicted to gambling, and a fastidious dandy; ( c ) compulsively protective of his own obscurity. A lexicographic genius, beneath whose casually sadistic storytelling lies a lustful fascination with words and the dilemmas they encourage, Landolfi was a master of the insulting anticlimax, and usually managed to undermine the seriousness of his topics with an almost vaudevillian indifference. But, of course, he never liked readers anyway.

—Michael Peck, The Believer

The triumphant ‘Gogol’s Wife’ by the modern Italian short-story writer Tommaso Landolfi, is perhaps the funniest and most unnerving story that I’ve yet read—Landolfi’s Gogol (who might have been invented by Kafka or by Borges) has married a rubber balloon, a splendidly inflatable dummy who assumes different shapes and sizes at her husband’s whim.

—Harold Bloom

Extraordinary—it is Landolfi’s clean, deliberate style that is so striking: that, combined with a lovely freedom of invention, allowed him to bring off this incredibly pure potion of the grotesque and the ludicrous. It is difficult to praise Gogol’s Wife too highly—it is an occasion for joy, comparable to the belated recent translation and discovery by the English reading public of Machado de Assis and Jorgue Luis Borges.

—Susan Sontag, The New York Review of Books