The Desire and the Pursuit of the Whole

Fiction by Frederick Rolfe (Baron Corvo)

The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole is a scurrilous sensual fantasy, a vindication of a man who felt betrayed by his friends, and a testament to a fervent affection for the city of Venice. Highly autobiographical, it chronicles the hectic descent of Nicholas Crabbe into destitution and starvation amongst the glories of Venice. His passage is brightened only by his love for his servant the boy-girl Zildo; a love which becomes ever more obsessive. Written a year before Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, this novel is both more passionate and more deeply autobiographical. It was never published in the author’s lifetime because of its libellous content and the homoerotic aspects of the narrative, and when it eventually found a publisher in 1934 it was altered throughout. This is the first complete edition.

Frederick Rolfe (Baron Corvo)

British late 19th century novelist and short story writer