Dissipatio H.G.: The Vanishing

Backorder (temporarily out of stock)

Product Details

New York Review of Books
Publish Date
5.0 X 7.9 X 0.5 inches | 0.35 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Guido Morselli (1912-1973) was a novelist and essayist. After serving in the Italian Army, he began writing reportages and short stories while living abroad. He wrote several works of fiction, among them Past Conditional, Divertimento 1889, and Roman senza papa (Rome Without the Pope), though none were published during his lifetime. NYRB Classics published his novel The Communist in 2017.

Frederika Randall (1948-2020) was a writer, reporter, and translator. Among her translations are Ippolito Nievo's Confessions of an Italian, and for NYRB, Guido Morselli's The Communist. She received the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship for Translation and the PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant, and with Sergio Luzzatto, the Cundill Prize. She finished her translation of Dissipatio H.G. shortly before her death in Rome in 2020.


"Given the narrator's--and Morselli's--views on contemporary society and its endless efforts to eliminate all kinds of earthly friction, one may even read this end of the world as a kind of collective wish fulfillment. One of the questions Morselli seems to have had on his mind is: How alive was everyone in the first place? . . . the echoes one finds in "Dissipatio H.G." of life during the coronavirus pandemic are, at times, so glaring that some passages read like thinly fictionalized versions of the present. Apocalyptic fiction is often disinterred amid catastrophes, either for their prescience or because they are paradoxically reassuring. Each phase of the quarantine seems represented in this slim novel . . . Morselli is drawn to anticlimaxes, resisting drama at every turn, and it is this instinct that makes his final book so resonant with certain experiences of the past year." --Alejandro Chacoff, The New Yorker

"Just as Morselli, tragically overlooked in his lifetime, was destined to be hailed as one of contemporary Italy's most iconoclastic writers, so was this novel, his last, destined to be translated, at the end of her long and distinguished career, by Frederika Randall. I can think of few works of literature more appropriate for our acutely isolating and endangered times." --Jhumpa Lahiri

"I recently had a chance to read a wonderful book, Dissipatio H.G., written by an Italian, Guido Morselli, who subsequently killed himself. I think it would make a highly interesting subject for a film, and you would certainly be the ideal director." --Letter from Marcello Mastroianni to Andrei Tarkovsky

"This is a powerful, erudite meditation on existence and the terror of loneliness." --Publishers Weekly

"Caustic, lonely and obsessive, the novel offers a richly speculative portrait of early Anthropocene resignation." --Dustin Illingworth, The New York Times

"It has been oddly comforting these past few weeks to read a novel about living in total isolation after an inexplicable, catastrophic event causes the entirety of Earth's population--save for one very concerned narrator--to vanish... a useful reminder that things can always get worse . . . In essayistic digressions that voluptuously condemn the decadence of modern civilization . . . Morselli makes the case for himself as a cantankerous shared relation of Huysmans and Houellebecq." --Andrew Martin, Harper's Magazine

"[Translator Frederika Randall had] a deep knowledge of Italian, and a keen ear for the rhythms and tones of English. . . . Dissipatio H.G. is, like many postapocalyptic stories, a philosophical novel, a work of social criticism, a corrective to our anthropocentrism. . . . Morselli's many images of the natural world in transition--ironic post-human pastorals--lose none of their haunting vividness in Randall's versions." --Geoffrey Brock, The New York Review of Books