Elaborately imagined, though often straining for effect, popular Italian novelist Tabucchi's (Pereira Declares) new offering is both a mini-catalogue of great artists' dreams and the author's interpretation of the last three days in the life of Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. Some of the dreamers Tabucchi chooses to conjure up include Greek architect Daedalus; Carlo Collodi, author of Pinocchio; painter Caravaggio; poet Arthur Rimbaud; composer Debussy; and the father of dream analysis, Sigmund Freud. At their best, these short reveries center around memorable, jewellike details. In some cases, the glimpses into the dream lives of these figures are arresting: Daedalus teaches a Minotaur trapped in a maze on his Greek island how to fly; Rimbaud wanders the French countryside with his own amputated leg under his arm, wrapped in a newspaper printed with his poems. Other narratives fizzle, merely embellishing famous scenarios from the subjects' lives or works: Collodi dreams that he is swallowed by a huge shark (a whale in the original tale), as was his wooden hero; Freud imagines that he has become his own most famous patient, Dora, in an episode more farcical than epiphanic. The recreation of Pessoa's last days is a more complex and successful narrative. All of the alternate poetic personae the poet ever createdAincluding Antonio Mora, a mad philosopher; shy accountant Bernardo Soares; and the monarchist doctor, Ricardo ReisAvisit him on his deathbed. Through these conversations with his own multiple personalities, the poet at last achieves peace. Although some episodes are weaker than others, Tabucchi's rich language and his magical-realist charm tinge the volume with a visionary glow. (July)
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Two fetchingly lyrical short works by the Borges-like Italian author of Pereira Declares (1996), etc. The Last Three Days of Fernando Pessoa: A Delirium (1994) is an elegant threnody describing the great Portuguese poet's approach to death as a meditative series of meetings with his heteronyms (fictional alter egos) and reflections on his political and aesthetic ideals. Dreams of Dreams (1992) offers the imaginary dreams of eminent writers, artists, composers, and fictional and mythological characters. Coleridge's albatross, Collodi's Gepetto, and Rabelais's Pantagruel, for instance, are creations first encountered in dreams; others subtly express such salient personal traits as Chekhov's compassion and Robert Louis Stevenson's quiet fortitude; and, in Tabucchi's wittiest single invention, Daedalus affixes waxen wings to the Minotaur, liberating that creature from his maze, and inspiring a later, less successful flight. A lovely little book that keeps on ringing in your head long after you've finished it. -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.See all Product Description