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Cover of A Love Affair

A Love Affair

Accomplished in his career but unaccomplished in love, a middle-aged architect is torn apart by his obsession with an enigmatic young woman in this delicately told story of desire and abjection by a titan of Italian literature.

Antonio Dorigo is a successful architect in Milan, nearing fifty, who has always been afraid of women. A regular at an upscale brothel for years, he mourns the lack of close female companionship in his life. One afternoon, the madam at the brothel introduces Tonio to “a new girl,” Laide. Tonio sees nothing especially remarkable about her, though it intrigues him that she dances at La Scala and also at a strip club, and yet in a very short time he becomes completely obsessed with her.

Laide leads Antonio on, confounds him, uses and humiliates him, treats him tenderly from time to time, lies to him, makes no apologies to him, and he loves her ever more. This helpless and hopeless love, he feels, is what he is, even as it prevents him from ever seeing Laide for who she is. Because Who is she? is the question at the heart of Buzzati’s clear-eyed and darkly comic tale of infatuation.

Is A Love Affair a love story or is it a story of anything but love? Buzzati’s novel, with its psychological subtleties, vivid cityscapes, unsettling comedy, and compassion, keeps the reader guessing till the end.