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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

Lamberto, Lamberto, Lamberto

by
Gianni Rodari


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

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Title: Lamberto, Lamberto, Lamberto
Author: Gianni Rodari
Genre: Novel
Written: 1978 (Eng. 2011)
Length: 185 pages
Original in: Italian
Availability: Lamberto, Lamberto, Lamberto - US
Lamberto, Lamberto, Lamberto - UK
Lamberto, Lamberto, Lamberto - Canada
Lamberto, Lamberto, Lamberto - India
Il était deux fois le baron Lambert - France
2 x Lamberto - Deutschland
C'era due volte il barone Lamberto - Italia
Érase dos veces el barón Lamberto - España
  • Italian title: C'era due volte il barone Lamberto
  • Translated by Antony Shugaar
  • With illustrations by Federico Maggioni

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Our Assessment:

B- : amusing inventions, but a bit too free-wheeling

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
TLS . 16/3/2012 Thea Lenarduzzi


  From the Reviews:
  • "While Rodari's rigour is occasionally ill-served by distracted editing, the repetition or omission of pronouns and conjunctions, even the mixing up of Duilio the ferryman for Anselmo the butler, will pose little trouble for the diligent bedtime reader." - Thea Lenarduzzi, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Lamberto, Lamberto, Lamberto features a Baron Lamberto who is very old (in his nineties) and very rich (he owns twenty-four banks all across the globe) who lives on an island in a lake in Italy. As can be expected at his age, Lamberto suffers from all sorts of maladies -- twenty-four, to be exact -- but after a trip to Egypt he installs six singers in his attic, who are paid to ceaselessly drone his name, and he finds his maladies go away; indeed, he finds himself literally rejuvenated -- looking and feeling like a man decades younger.
       Meanwhile, there's his no-good nephew, who hopes to be heir to the Lamberto fortune, and who would really find it convenient if uncle Lamberto keeled over sometime soon, so he could inherit and live the life he's used to again. Baron Lamberto's suddenly much healthier and more vigorous appearance does not please him in the least.
       Others want to get their hands on the Baron's money too: twenty-four bandits -- all named Lamberto -- invade and take over the island, holding the Baron hostage. He's quite welcoming, but doesn't quite play along with their efforts to get their hands on the exorbitant ransom -- even after they start lopping of ears and chopping off fingers, as proof that the Baron is in their clutches (proof complicated by the fact that ear and finger look like they're from a much younger man ...).
       Rodari's story is, to say the least, unpredictable, with new twists and unusual occurrences thrown in seemingly at random. The Baron's physical ... resilience makes for a relatively happy end, even after he's lost some appendages (and eventually more) -- but the unrealistic nature of his nature makes for a story that is ultimately simply childishly absurd. Appropriate enough, perhaps, for a kids' book, and maybe there is some childish delight to be found in the twists and shifts: the novel is like a dream, in that sense, with little logic to it. Rodari even allows his protagonist a wink at the readers:

     "I have to admit," Baron Lamberto acknowledges with a smile, "that the facts are somewhat peculiar and unusual."
       Rodari does have some clever and amusing ideas, but the wide-ranging story is also unsettling in its implications. It was written in the same year as the Aldo Moro kidnapping (which did not have this kind of happy end), and Rodari's anything-is-possible alternate-world seems a step (or several leaps) too far removed from reality -- escaping all its ugliness, but doing so by going to such extremes that even a child could not be reassured.
       There's some appeal to Rodari's wild abandon -- anything can happen here, it seems -- and not playing by the rules, but it can also be frustrating. It's good of him to add in closing that: "Readers who are dissatisfied with the ending are free to change it to suit themselves", but there's probably considerably more in the novel itself they'd want to fiddle with than just the ending.

- M.A.Orthofer, 10 November 2011

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Links:

Lamberto, Lamberto, Lamberto: Reviews: Gianni Rodari: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Italian author Gianni Rodari (1920-1980) is best known for his children's books.

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© 2011-2012 the complete review

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