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Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 244

Ilario, becomes mistakenly jealous of his wife and both suffer deeply. Their eldest son, Orsino, in Don Orsino gets involved in the building craze which swept over Rome in 1887. Corleone concerns Orsino and his brother Ippolito, the priest, taking the two of them to Sicily where they fall foul of bandits. The series is held together by the dominating figure of the magnificent old Prince Saracinesca, father of Don Giovanni. Of almost equal importance are San Giacinto, the giant cousin of the Saracinesca, Spicca, the melancholy but infallible duelist who dies in Don Orsino, Anastase Gouache, the French painter of whom Giovanni is jealous, and the villain Del Ferice. There are admirable melodramatic episodes: Giovanni’s duel with Del Ferice; the plot of old Montevarchi to prove that Prince Leone Saracinesca is not really head of his house; the sacrifice of Maria Consuelo d’Aranjuez, who marries Del Ferice to save Orsino whom she loves but who faces ruin by Del Ferice; the trick of Tebaldo Corleone who confesses a murder to Ippolito in order to bind the priest to secrecy and then accuses Ippolito of the murder.
  Without question, the peculiarly absorbing form of the four novels comes from the large admixture of melodrama. Without question, too, the characters are enlarged decidedly above verisimilitude by valiant deeds and lofty sentiments and eloquent speech. And yet neither melodrama nor heroic dimensions constitute the final impression of the Saracinesca cycle. That impression is rather of an admirable section of modern life admirably portrayed. Crawford understood the generous simplicity of the Italian character; he studied it here under the



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