Men and Not Men

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When Vittorini died in 1966, his American reputation had faded into obscurity from the relative fame of In Sicily and The Red Carnation. The current work was published in Italy in 1946 in the postwar glory days of neorealismo, with that burst of creative energy that accompanied Italy's liberation from enslavement to Fascism and Nazi occupation. The subject of this only recently translated novel is the underground Resistance movement in Milan in 1944, during the waning days of Mussolini's dictatorship, when the Nazis were already in command. Grimly, against impossible odds, the guerrillas the ``men'' of the title have carried the war to the inhuman ``nazifascists'' the ``not men'' and are willing to sacrifice 10 of their own for one of theirs. The actions are familiar from hundreds of war movies: the sudden blow, the flung grenade, the gunshots ringing out in the night, the dead SS officers and the brutal retribution that leaves bodies strewn in the streets as a warning to others. The protagonist, one of an ``action group'' of Resistance fighters, is a reflective, oddly remote character involved in an unresolved love affair while the deadly actions swirl through the city. Hemingwayesque dialogue and mannerisms seem almost quaint at this far remove, and the novel itself has lost much of its savor. December 18
Library Journal
Best known for In Sicily , Vittorini has been influential in Italian literature since the 1930s. Men and Not Men is an uneven novel of the Milan Resistance in World War II. Germans are ambushed, reprisals occur, there is a love story, and En 2, the main character, rejects an easy escape, but this is not a novel of action. The scale is wider: ``Today we have Hitler. And what is he? Is he not a man? We have his Germans, we have the Faschists. . . . Can we say they do not belong to mankind?'' The writing can be repetitious, but also light and devastating. In one scene, a young worker eyes a German he intends to kill. The man is so sad that the youth leaves, moved by a common humanity. ``I'll learn better,'' he tells his disappointed friends. This translation received the 1983 Renato Poggioli Award. Peter Bricklebank, English Dept., City Coll., CUNY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780910395144
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1987
  • Pages: 199
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.49 (h) x 0.61 (d)

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