That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana

Tim Parks writes:

Despite his eighty years (1893-1973) and many publications, an air of incompletion lingers about the work of Carlo Emilio Gadda. His most popular novel, That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana, is an unfinished murder story. His best work, Acquainted with Grief, is again unfinished and again leaves us with an unsolved crime (in this case we are not even sure whether the victim will die or not). Many of Gadda’s shorter pieces turn out to be fragments of unfinished novels, or of almost finished novels that he broke up into fragments, a habit which has prompted critics and editors to spend a lot of time reconstructing possible novels, always unfinished, from the various parts.

(LRB 20 September 2007)