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Painter, musician, journalist, essayist, playwright, and composer, Alberto Savinio was one of the most gifted and singular Italian writers of the twentieth century. Italian critics rank him alongside Pirandello, Calvino and Sciascia, but he is hardly known to American readers. He was the younger brother of Giorgio De Chirico, and Andre Breton said that the whole Modernist enterprise might be found in the work of these two brothers.
Savinio composed five operas and more than forty books. A friend of Apollinaire, figures on the scene during Savinio’s artistic and literary career included Picasso, Cocteau, Max Jacob and Fernand Leger. As the translator says, his writing, like his panting, moves easily from the everyday to the fantastic. Attempts to define it as surrealist’ are too limiting. It is free in spirit, profoundly intelligent, and beautifully controlled in style.”
The stories collected in Signor Dido are his last works, one story being sent to its publisher only four days before the author’s death. And while this final collection was completed in 1952, it was not published in Italian until 1978. Composed with an extreme economy of means, they are the summing up of a rich and complex life.... The stories contain haunting premonitions and at times piercing solitude, but they are all graced with Savinio’s high comic sense, his fine self-humor, and that stylistic irony which, as he once said, is both a mask for modesty and a subtle way of insinuating oneself into the secret of things.’”
Alberto Savinio (Andrea Francesco Alberto de Chirico) was born in Athens in 1891 and died in 1952.While still a teenager his musical compositions had drawn notice, he was a celebrated pianist, and his third opera, Perseus, had its premier at The Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1924. He wrote more than forty books including novels, criticism and memoirs. Childhood of Nivasio Dolcemare was translated into English by Richard Pevear and published in 1987.
Richard Pevear is one of the greatest translators of our time. Together with Larissa Volokhonsky, his wife, he has translated virtually the entire canon of major Russian writers, beginning with the award-winning Brothers Karamazov, all the rest of Dostoevsky’s major fiction, and continuing with the work of Tolstoy, Gogol, Bulgakov, Tolstoy, Chekov, Turgenev and Pasternak.