Os Justi Press
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This almost unclassifiable work of experimen-tal fiction, first published in 1931, tells of the worldwide wanderings of a rich and idle American, Goggins (nicknamed Gog), who expends his fortune in an insatiable question for… is it knowledge, or novelties? Years later, Gog—impoverished and confined to an insane asylum—one day entrusts a large sheef of notes to a frequent visitor whose company he had come to enjoy. These, it turns out, are the record of his travels and interviews. In about ninety entries, we encounter a variety of geniuses with whom Gog gained audience, including Freud, Edison, Einstein, Henry Ford, H. G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, and Lenin, as well as obscure idealists who eagerly display their several manias: modernist sculpture, avant-garde poetry, futuristic architecture, academic sub-subdisciplines, niche curio collections. Papini’s anarchic humor brings into sharp relief the strangeness of human beings and the wilfully exacerbated strangeness of modernity.
Giovanni Papini (1881–1956) was a controversial Italian writer whose journey from anticlerical atheism to right-wing Catholicism made him a famous and controversial figure in his day. His body of work, alternately poetic and polemical, reverent and absurdist, ranged from his masterpiece The Story of Christ (translated into twenty-three languages) to books of verse, essays, travelogues, satires, and biographical studies of Augustine, Dante, and Michelangelo. Jorge Luis Borges called him an “undeservedly forgotten” author.