You can also find me here: https://linktr.ee/onnurtilraun
Second attempt at a blog and back up of my old account, ferningur.
This part was... a lot.
The third part of the story takes place a few years after the end of the second: Elmina has become a widow and fell on hard times. Despite the ending of the previous chapter, her and Dupré managed to stay together, even if he wasn't in the best state of mind, and have another child together, a girl named Alessandrina, and nicknamed Sasà. Nodier hears about this and decides to propose to Elmina, if only to help her out of her situation, even after witnessing a moment when Elmina pretty much traumatises Alessandrina by forcing her to enter a room and sing the linnet song to some guests.
That last part was very unpleasant to read. Elmina's careless attitude about whether she hurts someone or not with her behaviour is a constant in this book, but the description of Alessandrina's flat voice and scared expression are genuinely hard to get through. If that's something that can bother you, be warned. At the same time, if this is how the story is by this point, I'm kind of worried about what other examples of sadism Elmina will carry out between here and the end of the story.
There was another thing that genuinely bothered me about this part of the book, and that's the fact that the prose is getting pretty bad; so far I found it hard to get through and, at point, verbose, but I could get through it and I chucked the difficulty to a deliberate stylistic choice. Towards the end of this part, however, two pretty egregious examples of just plain bad writing cropped up. At one point the narrator mentions a little person that lives around Elmina's house, and later she asks Alessandrina to go in the room mentioned above:
"Go... go..." said after some time her mother. "Lillot" (the midget with the hen feather, and Elmina thought that Sasà was afraid of him) "is gone".
That's a very clunky way of pointing out that Alessandrina might be scared, or even that Elmina knows that Alessandrina is scared and is pushing her to go anyway. It feels more a note to herself that Ortese forgot to delete. But that's almost bearable compared to this sentence, that appears right the next page:
"So, open it!" shouted to her, but completely calmly, the voice of her mother.
She calmly shouted, that's almost "my very first attempt at a story" levels of writing. I know what Ortese meant to say (Elmina spoke loudly but calmly), and for someone who could use rhetorical devices very well and who did so pretty nicely in the previous chapters, this feels just lazy.
If the prose devolves into an even worse mess, I might genuinely consider giving up on this book. The only thing I can safely say is that, if you want to try something by Ortese, this isn't a good book to start from.
Next time, since I also need something more lighthearted, I'll finally talk about the two linnet songs.