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Signor Dido


List Price: $23.00

January 14, 2014 | Hardcover | 5.5 x 8.25, 176 Pages | ISBN 9781619022386
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“[T]he feeling that one is actually sitting next to him on a train or across from him at dinner makes this a worthwhile read...” —Publishers Weekly

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 painting, 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.’”

About Alberto Savinio

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.

About the Translator:

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, Chekhov, Leskov, and Pasternak.


“Wry, epigrammatic, and with a mordant and playful wit he doesn’t hesitate to turn on himself, these pieces exemplify Savinio’s sense that the mundane and the fantastic aren’t separate spheres but that each is shot through with the other…[He] deftly balances introspection and journalistic observation, and always behind them are a fierce intelligence and an awareness of vanity in all its guises…being in Savinio’s company provides a series of small, persistent pleasures.” —Kirkus

“[T]he feeling that one is actually sitting next to him on a train or across from him at dinner makes this a worthwhile read…” —Publishers Weekly

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