The House of Others

d'Arzo, Silvio (Ezio Comparoni)

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novella

Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin
  • Date of entry: Feb-18-1997


Montilice, a tiny mountain village in post-World War II Italy, is the setting for this stunning novella. The narrator is a 60 year old priest who is haunted by the request of Zelinda, a woman new to his parish and slightly older than he. It takes the priest a while to get to the essence of Zelinda's request, for she initially approached him with seemingly odd concerns about marriage and divorce. But later he realizes that her inquiries about exceptions to church dogma have to do with the taking of one's life. Zelinda was tired of her existence (as a washerwoman her life was "a goat-life. A goat-life and nothing else . . . ") and she wanted to "finish up a little sooner."


Although the author keeps our attention through the mystery of Zelinda's request, he also offers us a glimpse into the life of the aging priest. The priest knew he was going to be challenged by Zelinda, and wondered if he would be of any use "in a case like this. This is a whole different language from mine . . . feast-days, baptisms, holy oil, a good wedding, by now that's my daily bread." What he ends up giving to Zelinda are empty words and recommendations--not the truth which she (and he) sought. The novella ends with musings from the priest about "An absurd old woman, an absurd priest; an absurd two-bit story."


Translated by Keith Botsford; includes a lengthy introduction by the translator about d'Arzo's life and works; d'Arzo is one of a number of pen names which Comparoni used.



Place Published

Evanston, Ill.



Page Count