Wednesday 6 February 2008

The Iguana by Anna Maria Ortese

This is a wonderful novel, part adventure, part magical fable. Aleardo is a young Italian count whose voyages take him to the unknown island of Ocana, where he meets a family of Portuguese nobles and their servant who seems to be an iguana. As the story progresses the differentiation between fantasy and reality blurs, so that towards the end, the narrative shimmers like a hologram, it's most magical. There is also a strong environmental conscience at work, for example the iguana can be seen as a symbol of human relationships between classes and with the natural world. Here is a short quote that spoke to me:

' "...nature is not at peace. She's like a mother whose son is in the grips of some calamity that's forcing him to abandon her. ...she's in a state of alarm, pressing her ear against every outcropping in the air. And so many strange sounds that we take for the creaking of a branch or the whisper of a leaf innocently falling onto a windowsill, well they're nothing other than her scratchings at the door of our cramped and contorted reasonings, her way of begging us not to abandon her..." '

The book is also beautifully translated from the Italian by Henry Martin. It flows much better than do many other translations from Italian that I've read.


Anonymous said...

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It's nice to discover your blog!

shadows and clouds said...

ooh, that sounds very interesting indeed - to be honest i hadn't heard of book or author, but i will go to the library and ask about it. thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi CG,
This sounds interesting. My real life book groups are always asking for recommendations. I hadn't heard of this book or author.
Have you read A White Boy in Africa by Peter Godwin? That is what we are currently reading for this month.

Shirley said...

hi, thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. i don't know how you found me, but i am glad that you stopped by. please do come by again.

i like that you have a blog for others to submit their poetry. i once spent a great deal of time writing poetry too, but it's been a while and i've lost a bit of inspiration. i dont find the city too inspiring for poetry. deep in the forests was usually a better environment.

:) shirley

Anonymous said...

Sounds really interesting...based on your recommendation and that wonderful quote, I'll certainly be taking a look. I love a good environmentally related work...often they can be too heavy-handed in that sense, but this sounds just right.


abby - the geek girl said...

I finally did the 10 for 10 meme!! Thanks, it was a lot of fun!! :)