Read The Iguana by Anna Maria Ortese HenryMartin Online


In this magical novel a Milanese count stumbles upon a desolate community of lost noblemen on an uncharted island off the coast of Portugal. When he discovers, to his utter amazement, that their ill-treated servant is in fact a maiden iguana, and then proceeds to fall in love with her, the story of Aleardo, Estralitta and don Ilario becomes universal -- the fantastic mergeIn this magical novel a Milanese count stumbles upon a desolate community of lost noblemen on an uncharted island off the coast of Portugal. When he discovers, to his utter amazement, that their ill-treated servant is in fact a maiden iguana, and then proceeds to fall in love with her, the story of Aleardo, Estralitta and don Ilario becomes universal -- the fantastic merges with the commonplace until a resonant reality emerges with subtle distillation. From first page to last, the reader is given a tale of tragic love and delusion that ranks among the most affecting in contemporary literature. The Iguana has the force of "The Tempest," and is written with a grace comparable in every way to the works of Izak Dinesen and Djuna Barnes. Little wonder, then, that this novel was called by the noted critic Pietro Citati, "one of the very few books destined to redeem the honor of Italian literature since the Second World War." First published in Italian in 1965, where it was awarded the Fiuggi Prize, this masterpiece is by one of the original Italian "magic realists."...

Title : The Iguana
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780914232957
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 198 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Iguana Reviews

  • Jimmy
    2019-05-05 19:41

    A strange and disorienting book, which seems par for the course for a story about a Count going to a remote island and falling in love with an Iguana. But even more so than you think. There's a lot going on here. But you never know exactly what it is, it's like you're in the center of a storm... or as if told by an unreliable narrator--but more than that--the whole idea of world-building is unreliable here. But you just have to go along with it, and if you do, treasures await.Deeply funny, cynical, and moving, and quite critical of capitalism, I'm still not sure what to think of it as a whole. It's not neatly any one thing, which is its strength. There's a sadness that permeates the fibers of this book, one that is, I think, a mourning for a world lost and no longer mourned for.This is a long passage, but I think it serves as a good example of the power and humor of the prose, as well as carrying that message of "don't worry too much about the plot" coming directly from the author, which I think is important in appreciating this work:The Count's real location in this frangent of time, whether at the well along with the others, to see if there was any vestige of the Body of God, or wandering about the island with the pistol in his hand on the trail of the culprits, or at the bottom of the well, or in that cold hallucinated court room, is something, Reader, though it may strike you as strange, that we are unable to tell you. If you're inclined to petition for an explanation of these continuous passages from one place to another, changes of scene, broken dialogs and rapid telescoping locales, if you want to know the truth of these interplays of houses, winds, and wells, of trembling paths and mute interiors, of living leaves and dead walls, of sunrays and lamplights, of progress and stasis, of immobility and movement, and above all of a waxing pain, of a sadness knowing no repose, of unspeakable anger intermixed with commonplace words, and as well of the disappearance of both our Iguana and those prodigies and peals of laughter that have characterized our story up to now, in that case you ought to reflect–while awaiting whatever explanations we yet may prove able to furnish (presuming the very existence of explainability within this world of inscrutable phenomena where you too make your home)–you should reflect, thoughtful Reader, on the particularly narrow mind of our young Lombard architect and on how it nonetheless harbored a generosity of which he had never been aware previous to debarking on this tragic island. You yourself are safe, and can turn the tranquil light of reason onto the tremendous truth of the soul: on its being here, everywhere, and nowhere, and all while a strong young body walks now in one direction, now in another, carried along whatever paths it travels by whatever new questions may arise within the mind it encloses. And what is a body when compared to the spirit that guides it and to which that body, those hands, and those eyes have but the simple duty of furnishing expression? And what is time, the time in which such thoughts and actions find articulation? And what is space, if not ingenuous convention? And what is an island, or a city, the world itself with its multitudinous capitals, if not simply a theater where the heart, stricken by remorse, can pose its ardent questionings? So you mustn't, Reader, be amazed if the sickness that had menaced our Count for quite some time as he moved within his class like one of the living dead–(“a sickness” can be synonym for “a thought”)–you mustn't be amazed to see that sickness now explode in the tremendous fashion we here have been at pains to describe, revealing all of the nobleman's subterranean longing, all his desperate need for an experience of the real. The field and the wooded copse, the dining room and the well, the rapid April clouds and the closeness of November, coming now to confuse themselves the one with the other here at the end of our story, are things then of which you have no need to investigate the cause: recognize them rather to contain the resolute and one true path of the soul among things till now pretending to be the soul, imitating the soul at the cost of great turbulence and fear. - 171Update:Just read this: "But she never accepted the 'neo-realist' label, seeing the book as 'a screen on which to project one's sense of disorientation'. "..."The iguana is one of a series of unsettling, magical animals - including the goldfinch (or linnet) of Il cardillo addolorato and the puma of her last novel, Alonso e i visionari ("Alonso and the Visionaries", 1996) - which Ortese used to deflect her frustration at the limits, and the littleness, of the knowable world."..."Her brief forays into journalism were limited by a refusal to modulate her writerly voice: once, while covering the Giro d'Italia bicycle race for Panorama, she wrote that 'the Giro often sails close to the sweet, unremembering shores of death'".She's so awesome!

  • Nate D
    2019-05-25 18:32

    ...It was simply a part of the world's normality. The world itself, afterall, is fairly enigmatic: at the beginning it wasn't there, and then it was, and no one has any idea where it came from.An odd book, this. At first merely warmly peculiar, it settles into itself slowly, gradually turning before the reader's extended expectations of where it may lead. Then this slow transition and building intrigue is blinded in sudden transformation: a chapter sub-heading of "confusion" proves vastly understated, reality reconfigures itself in lurches, we find ourselves left at a supposedly cohesive resolution but arguably that of a different book than the one we'd thought we were reading. It's disorienting, enigmatic, unsettling, possibly some kind of brilliant.

  • Robert Wechsler
    2019-05-25 21:23

    This is a surreal, satirical novel with comically pompous language, whose pomposity comes from its mercurial, aristocratic, Candide-like protagonist, who wants to do something more with his life than buy properties for his mother, but lacks the wherewithal to do much of anything.What makes the novel is its satire and its language — arch but lyrical, stilted but flowing, philosophical and emotional — very ably translated by Martin. The confidence and uniqueness of this then unknown writer is amazing. The novel starts falling apart toward the end, I thought, but it is a singular reading experience that I’m very happy I had.It’s too bad that so little of Ortese’s work has made it into English, and that the English translations are not yet available as e-books.

  • Bill
    2019-05-15 16:30

    this is the first book I've read solely because it was in the book,500 Great Books By Women. unfortunately, I wasn't really all that enamoured by it. but there are 499 to go, so I'm sure i'll find many that I like better.

  • Marius Ghencea
    2019-05-26 15:22

    La mostruosità agghiacciante dell'animo umano in confronto alla compassione e umiltà, l'uomo senza l'intelligenza razionale e quello senza tempo che sempre sogna. È un romanzo quasi a matrioska, scatole cinesi, si cade sempre, una caduta continua nel vuoto più profondo.

  • Davide
    2019-05-14 20:27

    "Ché il cuore dell'uomo, anche se di un conte lombardo, non tralascia occasione, almeno nelle sue pieghe meno illuminate, di differire una qualsivoglia azione, se si presenta appena tale da sfinire l'anima con la sua problematica. Vi è della pigrizia, anche se non sembra, nel cuore dell'uomo."

  • Carloesse
    2019-04-29 14:42

    La fantasia della Ortese origina questo strano romanzo, a metà strada tra la fiaba e l'apologo, e uno stile che rimane unico nel panorama letterario italiano. Da questa stessa fantasia nascerà più tardi quel libro complesso e ben più arduo che è "Il porto di Toledo" ("Ricordi della vita irreale", ovvero una sorta di autobiografia trasfigurata), immenso capolavoro ancora oggi largamente incompreso e/o ignorato. Ecco, il percorso per giungere a quel libro fondamentale, vero punto nodale nella vita e nella produzione letteraria della scrittrice, nasce forse proprio da qui. Per questo, forse, è la lettura ideale per giungere più agevolmente a quell'altro. Io, almeno, sono riuscito ad "entrare" a Toledo, le cui alte mura mi avevano in precedenza respinto, solo dopo avere affrontato questo melanconico Iguana.

  • Juliet Wilson
    2019-05-02 16:33

    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.

  • Mike
    2019-05-14 16:40

    I'll do a real review of this book once there is a real translation, or after I learn Italian. The (translated) prose was so bad it made me feel like I was huffing glue instead of reading "one of the very few books destined to redeem the honor of Italian literature since the Second World War."

  • Paz81
    2019-05-06 19:44

    bello e noioso.

  • Stephen
    2019-05-14 18:26

    Like Calvino? Try Ortese.

  • Saettare
    2019-04-26 13:22

    Read this little poetic and mysterious masterpiece in Italian. An under appreciated novel by a fascinating woman writer. Highly recommended!

  • Justin Howe
    2019-05-23 19:40

    The prose is thick and turgid in this one and not worth the pay off.

  • Mika Stratton
    2019-05-02 21:46

    Notes on themes: - What light tells- Age vs. infantile- Good vs. evil- Description/Philosophical Contemplation

  • Kobe Bryant
    2019-05-27 15:16

    Im going to blame the translation

  • Simona Friuli
    2019-04-27 14:24

    Non sono mai stata, prima di adesso, a colloquio con una Sfinge.Ho provato nei confronti di quest'opera una fascinazione smodata e, al contempo, moti di irritazione: il prosare è barocco, di certo labirintico, altrettanto certamente ingarbugliato come la foresta di spini della principessa fiabesca. Sicuramente titanico. Un modo compositivo che restituisce orgoglio alla letteratura tutta e a quella italiana, in particolare. Un qualsiasi discorso ulteriore mi sembra vano, quasi stringere a sé la nebbia, ma tenterò. L'opera è molteplice. Non concordo con il Citati che, tra le sue tante forme, vuole cristallizzarla nella fantastica della d'Aulnoy - o "in una specie di La Bella e La Bestia". Ho pensato, piuttosto, alla Sirenetta di Andersen, alla questione dell'Anima. La Ortese è un'ironista magistrale, la critica alla società moderna, assuefatta e mercificata, è altera e viene dall'alto e incarnata nella figura - uomo-nature - del povero Conte interiormente scisso che, malgrado la fervida idealità e una certa semplicità d'animo, è parte della società del denaro che, poi, supplizia i Don Ilario, ma tenta di far valere, dove può, quel rispetto - "Sentimento sottile e un po' doloroso dell'altrui dignitas". Approdato al "mondo altro", e noi assieme a lui, ecco che incontra l'Iguana: un personaggio commovente, una decaduta, una triste bambina che non è certo parte di quella società corrotta in cui il Conte non vede il male - conta sassi invece che denari, sdegna lo smeraldo che il Daddo le dona -che è la principessa dell'isola, ma non vi saranno pelli di bestia da dare alle fiamme, ed è la Natura straziata dall'abbandono dell'uomo che si è disfatto di ogni credenza che lo nobilitava. Di lei, come preannunciato nel colloquio con l'Adelchi - anche questo, un gioiello di ironia - il Conte si innamora, per lei, per la Natura lacrimosa e spaventata, si immola senza, però, redimerla. Un'opera data alla vita da una Scrittrice che soffrì "per la radicale ingiustizia" che sentì su di sé, alla maniera dei martiri, la sofferenza universale.Ma contro chi rivolgersi, in protesta?Così è la mia idea dell'Iguana. Ho detto alcune cose, eppure, troppo poco.Una sola lettura, per tutta apprezzarla e capirla, sarebbe tracotanza.Certo è che mi chiedo come sia possibile, oggi, la letteratura dopo che così tanto è già stato detto, e così bene: è possibile non portare sulle proprie spalle, alla maniera di Atlante, il peso dei titani che in letteratura ci hanno preceduti e hanno fatto incetta e razzie di argomenti, ergendosi sopra la massa comune e sbiadita degli scribacchini da due soldi e degli esseri umani?

  • Leif
    2019-05-05 14:41

    The field and the wooded copse, the dining room and the well, the rapid April clouds and the closeness of November, coming now to confuse themselves the one with the other here at the end of our story, are things then of which you have no need to investigate the cause: recognize them rather to contain the resolute and one true path of the soul among things till now pretending to be the soul, imitating the soul at the cost of great turbulence and fear.There are things happening here that blend and shift: a satire of language's hopeless romanticism but also a use of it to convey the grandiosity of madness, a story told of romance with an iguana but also the telling of that story to deconstruct the whole, a thoughtful play of magic in the face of finance. Not particularly enjoyable, although there are some beautiful passages here."What's the matter with this poor soul?" the sick man inquired, benevolently."Human souls can tremble for no good reason, sir; they're like leaves on trees." replied Hipolito."That's quite true.""Here there was once a beautiful house," observed Felipe. "Time and desperation have left nothing behind. Desperation is a terrible thing, sir."Even for the leaves on the branch to shake and tremble, there must be some vibration of earth, some invisible wind. As far as I can tell, in The Iguana there is language only, language and a rumour of its history: its power, its path in changing and bending the lives of those who use it, whether mad counts or retiring, mysterious girls, and finally its withdrawal, confident in the mystery of once having been.

  • M M
    2019-04-30 14:41

    I zipped at high speed through Anna Maria Ortese's The Iguana till about the half-way mark after which my attention flagged. A rich Milanese nobleman in search of some property to acquire lands on a mysterious island ostensibly part of the Portuguese empire where he encounters a bunch of decadently poor aristocrats and their magical maid - the sentient iguana of the title. The book is meant to be a series of allegorical chapters that meander between the fantastic and an exploration of an effete man's psyche as it flips between pity and macabre paranoia. I was unable to finish it, but it is considered one of the best post-war Italian works, so let not my impatience stop you.

  • Federico
    2019-05-10 13:40

    This is not the very kind of book I usually read, and in fact I read it for school.Even so, I got to appreciate the plot and the style, although it was a little strange and some parts were really odd.I’m still working on this book and on its meanings—alas!What I can tell, it focuses on very interesting themes such as exploiting the environment and the wilderness, feeling good or bad according to whether you feel loved and appreciated, overcoming all appearances.This book really makes you think.

  • Nadine
    2019-05-26 19:19

    I debated whether to give this three or four stars. It really draws you in, but I got hopelessly confused during part where the protagonist either has delirium or is going crazy. At first I thought I hadn't read it carefully enough, but when I reread it it was still utterly confusing. I guess the author is trying to show us what it is like to lose your mind. Anyway, I gave it four because mostly I really liked it, but it's kind of hard to tackle the delirium stuff.

  • Jonathan yates
    2019-05-12 13:18

    I can't even tell if this was good or not, the translation was so choppy, i can't imagine this even being translated if it wasn't better than this, the storyline seemed really cool, but the whole thing was disjointed i'm afraid

  • Stephanie
    2019-05-21 17:37

    Not sure what to make of this.

  • Alice
    2019-05-01 21:21

    Ho capito di aver avuto tra le mani un classico della letteratura italiana, ma forse mi manca la cultura necessaria ad apprezzarlo.