Carlo Emilio Gadda (1893-1973) was born in Milan, where he spent a "tormented childhood and even more miserable adolescence." He earned a degree in engineering, volunteered to fight in World War I, and was taken prisoner by the Germans. After the war, he began to write while working as an engineer in countries as far afield as Argentina. Acquainted with Grief, Gadda's first novel, set in an imaginary South American country, appeared in 1938. His masterpiece, That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana, was serialized after the war, but only published as a book in 1957. Both novels, like much else that Gadda wrote, were left incomplete. Among Gadda's other notable works are essays, film and radio scripts, a travel book, and his journals from World War I. Italo Calvino (1923-1985) was an Italian writer and novelist. His works include The Road to San Giovanni, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, Invisible Cities, Marcovaldo, and Mr. Palomar.
"The experimental masterpiece modern Italian literature has long been awaiting.... There is a kinship to Joyce, especially in Gadda's inspired outbursts of comic invective, his ferocious Romantic humor." -The New York Times