The Lives of the Gods

A selection of Savinio’s early stories, many of which appeared in Surrealist magazines in the thirties. Savinio was the brother of the artist Giorgio de Chirico and an associate of Apollinaire.

The moments of personal mythology we create from the apprehensions and misapprehensions of everyday waking life are captured with bizarre charm and delicacy in this collection of stories from an author who is rapidly being recognised as one of the stars of the pre-war Italian literature. the collection is united by a common theme - the re-telling of the most famous stories of all time.

The whole of the modern myth still in process of formation is founded on two bodies of work - Alberto Savinio’s and his brother Giorgio de Chirico’s - that are almost indistinguishable in spirit and that reached their zenith on the eve of the war of 1914. - André Breton, Anthology of Black Humour

Alberto Savinio was born in Greece from Italian aristocratic lineage, and studied music in Berlin before moving to Paris in 1910 with his brother Giorgio de Chirico, the painter. This collection spans his entire career: his Songs of Half-Death were published by his friend Apollinaire in 1914 - half-death being a psychic state through which he attempted to attain a higher reality. Savinio lived in Italy from 1914 to 1933, when he returned to Paris; he continued to write in French as well as Italian, and was close to the Surrealists, publishing in their reviews as well as in Breton’s Anthology of Black Humour (a story included here). He developed a parallel career as a painter, and many of the same concerns of personal myth-making and dreaming are reflected in both his writing and his art. Psyche, and Mr. Münster, the two longest pieces in this book, date from the 1940s. He died in Rome in 1952.

...this sampling of Savinio’s fantastic tales amply confirms his skill as an amused manipulator of propositions, absurd, incongruous and surreal. - Times Literary Supplement