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Sam Dunn is Dead cover image Sam Dunn is Dead

Bruno Corra

Eclectics & Heteroclites 16

Illustrated by Rosa Rosŕ. Translated and Introduced by John Walker.
ISBN 978-0-9931487-0-5
96pp 15x17cm
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First English translation, in the centenary year of its original publication.

Sam Dunn is Dead, described by its author as a “Futurist Novel”, was first published in book form by Filippo Marinetti’s Edizioni Futuriste. However, one will search in vain for any mention of this work in anthologies or histories of Futurism.

This is doubtless because it is so unlike anything else produced by Futurism (so ardent, so masculine, so positive and so absurdly serious). Sam Dunn is none of these, and above all else it is a miniature masterpiece of black humour — the last thing likely to be associated with the posturings of Marinetti and his acolytes.

Not only is Sam Dunn funny, despairing, cerebral and ludicrous, it also traces a history of the modern spirit. Its eponymous hero, a poet in languid 1890s mould, unleashes a thoroughly contemporary apocalypse upon the world. Subsequent chapters could be taken for Dadaist or Surrealist texts (but written a decade before their time), and then the whole edifice is fatally undermined by forces that are both banal and… unusual.

Corra later considered his novel a failure, but he was mistaken. His sensitivity to the great undertows of history that were then working their way to the surface seems alarmingly prescient — and anyway his opinion does nothing to inhibit the reader’s simple enjoyment of the book’s deliriously ebullient nihilism.


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