Wallace Stegner on overrated novels

“It has poured all day, if the word “poured” can be used to describe rain that is not vertical but horizontal, mixed with leaves, branches, power failures, and fear for the windows.… It was not the day to entertain Italy’s greatest novelist, the profound anatomist of passion, true heir of D’Annunzio, with a dash of Cellini and a dollop of Casanova. Not the day to entertain anybody. As we set to work to prepare his welcome we alternated between anxiety that we might not be able to do right by him and a wan hope that he wouldn’t come.
“We are fond of Cesare in spite of his books. His books are overrated, but that is because he is completely of his time, and his time overrates itself. He is neither the first nor the worst to make a career out of the verbal exploration of the various bodily orifices… Maybe if I were younger, and my hormones more active, I might appreciate his novels more. As it is, I have to think of them compulsive, theatrical, and decadent even while I find Cesare himself lively, amusing, and full of an attractive kind of Italian blarney.”
Wallace Stegner in his novel “The Spectator Bird”


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