Viscount Medardo of Terralba
Viscount Medardo of Terralba, a young Italian nobleman from a small principality on the coast of Italy. Fighting against the Turks, he is split in two by a cannonball; one surviving half is saved by doctors, and he returns home. Once there, he displays a perverted and evil nature, shown especially in his penchant for splitting things—such as fruits, frogs, and mushrooms—into two parts. His courtship of the peasant girl Pamela further reveals his sadistic inclinations. The other part of Medardo, which also survived and was healed by hermits, returns to Terralba; this portion of the viscount is all virtue and makes his presence known by a series of good deeds, many of which inevitably require redressing the harm done by his evil half. The people of Terralba are oppressed and terrified by the bad portion of the viscount and soon find themselves harassed and limited by the good portion. These opposing parts become known to the people of Terralba as “The Bad ’Un” and “The Good ’Un.” Inevitably, the two sides come into a conflict that can be resolved only by their reunion.
The narrator, Medardo’s nephew, seven or eight years old. A shrewd and observant child with much common sense, he serves as a generally accurate and unbiased witness of events. Left mostly to himself by his family, he is free to roam the hills and coasts of Terralba and so follow the other characters throughout the novel.
(The entire section is 626 words.)