Short summary - Pleasure - Gabriele d'Annunzio

Italy literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - Pleasure
Gabriele d'Annunzio

In December 1886, Count Andrea Sperelli was waiting for his beloved in his chambers. The exquisite furnishings evoke memories - Elena's hands touched these things, Elena's gaze fell on these paintings and curtains, the smell of these flowers intoxicated Elena. When she bent over the fireplace, her figure was reminiscent of Danae Correggio. Two years have passed, and Elena must again cross the threshold of the room. The great farewell took place on March 25, 1885. This date is forever engraved in Andrea's memory. Why did Elena leave, why did she renounce the love that bound them forever? Now she is married: a few months after her sudden departure from Rome, she married an English aristocrat.

Andrea hears footsteps on the stairs, the rustle of a dress. Elena looks even more seductive than before, and when looking at her, the young man feels almost physical pain. She came to say goodbye. The past will never return. Andrea dutifully escorts her to the carriage, tries to call out for the last time, but she presses her finger to her lips with a pained gesture and gives vent to tears only when the carriage moves off. In the Sperelli family, hereditary traits were secularity, elegance of speech, love for everything refined. Count Andrea continued the family tradition with dignity. Endowed with a tremendous power of sensitivity, he squandered himself, not noticing the gradual decline in abilities and hopes. While he was young, captivating youth redeemed everything. His passion was women and Rome. Having received a significant inheritance, he settled in one of the most beautiful corners of the great city. A new streak in life began. Donna Elena Muti was made for him.

She was unspeakably beautiful. She had such a rich timbre of voice that the most banal phrases acquired some hidden meaning in her lips. When Andrea saw the first glimpse of tenderness in her eyes, he told himself with delight that an unknown pleasure awaited him. The very next day they smiled at each other like lovers. Soon she gave herself to him, and Rome shone with new light for them. The churches of the Aventine Hill, the noble garden of St. Mary Priorato, the bell tower of St. Mary in Cosmedine - everyone knew about their love. Both of them knew no measure in the extravagance of soul and body. He liked to close his eyelids in anticipation of a kiss, and when her lips touched him, he could barely hold back the Scream, And then he himself began to shower her with small, frequent kisses, bringing caresses to complete exhaustion and forcing her to burn in the flames of passion.

In the first days after the separation, he felt the attacks of desire and pain so keenly that he seemed to die from them. Meanwhile, the connection with Elena Muti raised him in the eyes of the ladies to an unattainable height. All women are possessed by a vainglorious desire for possession. Andrea could not resist the temptation. He moved from one love to another with incredible ease, and the habit of deception dulled his conscience. The news of Elena's marriage inflamed an old wound: in every naked woman, he sought to find the perfect nakedness of his former lover. Courting donna Ippolita Albonico, Count Sperelli severely insulted her lover and was stabbed in the chest in a duel.

The Marquise d'Ataleta took her cousin to her estate - to recover or die. Sperelli survived. It was a period of purification for him. All the vanity, cruelty and lies of his existence have disappeared somewhere. He rediscovered the forgotten impressions of Childhood, again indulged in art and began to compose sonnets. Elena seemed to him now distant, lost, dead. He was free and felt the desire to surrender to a higher, purer love. At the beginning of September, his cousin told him that a friend would soon come to visit her. Maria Bandinelli recently returned to Italy with her husband, the Minister Plenipotentiary of Guatemala.

Maria Ferres struck the young man with her enigmatic smile, luxurious lush hair and voice, as if combining two timbres - female and male. This magical voice reminded him of someone, and when Maria began to sing, accompanying herself on the piano, he almost burst into tears. From that moment on, he was seized by the need for gentle adoration - he experienced bliss at the thought that he was breathing the same air as she. But jealousy was already stirring in his heart: all Mary's thoughts were occupied with her daughter, and he wanted to completely possess her - not her body, but her soul, which belonged undividedly to little Dolphin.

Maria Ferres remained true to the girlish habit of writing down every day all the joys, sorrows, hopes and impulses of the past day. A few days after his arrival at the estate of Francesca d'Ataleta, the pages of the diary were completely taken over by Count Sperelli. In vain Mary persuaded herself not to succumb to the surging feeling, appealing to prudence and wisdom. Even her daughter, who always brought her healing, turned out to be powerless - Maria loved for the first time in her life. Her perception became so acute that she penetrated the secret of her friend Francesca, was hopelessly in love with her cousin. On October 3, the inevitable happened - Andrea wrested a confession from Maria. But before leaving, she returned Shelley's volume to him, underlining two lines with her fingernail: "Forget me, for I will never be yours!"

Soon Andrea left the estate of his sister. Friends immediately drew him into the maelstrom of social life. Having met one of the former mistresses at the reception, he plunged into the abyss of pleasure with one jump. On New Year's Eve, he ran into Elena Muti on the street. The first movement of his soul was to reunite with her - to conquer her again. Then doubts arose, and he was filled with confidence that the former miracle would not be resurrected. But when Elena came to him to say a cruel goodbye, he suddenly felt a violent thirst to crush this idol.

Sperelli meets Elena's husband. Lord Heathfield inspires him with hatred and disgust - the more he wants to take possession of a beautiful woman in order to get fed up with her and free herself from her forever, because now Mary owns all his thoughts. He uses the most sophisticated tricks to win a new lover and return the old one. He was granted the rarest, great feminine feeling - true passion. Realizing this, he becomes the executioner of himself and the poor creature. They walk with Mary in Rome. On the terrace of the Villa Medici, the columns are covered with inscriptions of lovers, and Maria recognizes Andrea's hand - two years ago he dedicated a poem to Goethe to Elena Muti.

Lord Heathfield shows Andrea the richest collection of depraved books and obscene drawings. The Englishman knows what effect they have on men, and with a mocking smile follows his wife's former lover. When Andrea completely loses his head, Elena contemptuously sends him away. Offended to the depths of his soul, he rushes away and meets his good angel, Mary. They visit the grave of beloved poet Percy Shelley and share their first kiss. Maria is so shocked that she wants to die. And it would be better if she died.

It becomes known that the plenipotentiary minister of Guatemala turned out to be a cheater and fled. Maria is disgraced and ruined. She needs to go to her mother in Siena. She comes to Andrea to give him the first and last night of love. The young man pounces on her with all the madness of passion. Suddenly, she breaks out of his arms, hearing the name she already knows. Sobbing Andrea tries to explain something, screams and begs - the answer is the knock of a slammed door. On June 20, he comes to the sale of the property of the Plenipotentiary Minister of Guatemala and, choking with despair, wanders through the empty rooms.