Critical Evaluation

Riccardo Bacchelli’s The Mill on the Po is divided into three parts, or volumes, all of which were published individually in their original Italian and then published in English in 1950 (parts 1 and 2, God Save You and Trouble Travels by Water) and in 1955 (part 3, Nothing New Under the Sun, only). The 1975 reprint of The Mill on the Po suggests that the first two parts of Bacchelli’s novel have had more readers than the final part.

Bacchelli’s writing style and the mood of his story change from section to section, but changes in history in contrast with the unchanging River Po provide pivotal points for the novel on which to progress. Readers with the patience for a trilogy that takes place in a part of the world and at historical moments that are unfamiliar to most Anglophones should nevertheless derive rewards from sections of Bacchelli’s novel.

Bacchelli applies features of literary modernism to all three volumes of the trilogy, but with The Mill on the Po as a whole, Bacchelli has produced a work that deliberately swims against the stream of modernism. The trilogy form permitted Bacchelli to tell his epic tale of four-and-a-half generations of one Italian family during a decisive historical period for Italy, from the end of the Napoleonic era in the early nineteenth century to World War I.

Although it plays a role in the novel, the unification of Italy is not its main theme; it is...

(The entire section is 606 words.)