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Un cuore magico.

A prolific author whose opus includes several volumes of poetry and a number of novels, some of which have won such important literary prizes as the Premio Campiello, Premio Strega, and Premio Bancarella, Alberto Bevilacqua has also directed five movies, two based on his novels La califfa and Questa specie d'amore. Throughout his career Bevilacqua has continually returned to the motif of political and moral conditions in postwar Italy and the themes of passion, money, and corruption. Although he draws his characters from all walks of life, the author has focused on the intelligentsia, which he views as more sensitive to the world and more capable of divulging the corruption hidden behind appearances.

Marco, the protagonist and narrator of Un cuore magico, is a writer whom we first encountered in I sensi incantati (see WLT 67:1, p. 166), the 1991 novel which forms the basis for the latest work. Although each novel stands on its own, Un cuore magico frequently refers to events and characters in the earlier work. In I sensi incantati the protagonist struggles to revive his interest in life in a world whose society rejects his ideas, causing him to fall into a deep depression. He manages to regain interest in living when he meets Miriam, a young sensitiva who initiates him into the world of clairvoyance, telepathy, and the forces unseen. Eventually Marco discovers his own psychic forces and feels the need to write about them.

Un cuore magico begins where I sensi incantati left off: Miriam disappears, leaving Marco alone. Marco, in turn, changes himself from incantato to incantatore, using his powers to help other people. Thus we see Marco and his mother on a trip to Paris, where she regains her mental sanity in part through their quasi-incestuous relationship. We also see many people who come to Marco's apartment in Rome seeking help. With a spark or a heartbeat, Marco can find out people's secrets and can also become others. His powers also include being able to talk to the dead, which he normally. does not like to do because it is too taxing on him emotionally, since at times his own life gets mixed up with that of his subjects. If Marco cannot help his "patients," he sends them to see more powerful sensitivi such as Rol, who can guess people's names just by looking at them, can do scrittura diretta - i.e., write people's thoughts on paper - and can even read the text of a book without opening it.

The novel reads easily and is occasionally interesting, but its exaggerated emphasis on clairvoyance, telepathy, and psychic forces leaves this reader unenthused. The author makes attempts at a realistic grounding, but the novel remains suffused with the narrator's preoccupation with the forces unseen. Obviously, the author is suggesting that in a world where human beings find no solutions to their problems through logic and rationality, another path must be taken. Unfortunately, the novel fails to convince.

Domico Maceri Allan Hancock College
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Author:Maceri, Domenico
Publication:World Literature Today
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1995
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