Riccardo Bacchelli The Times Literary Supplement - Essay

The Times Literary Supplement

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["The Devil at the Long Bridge,"] written with immense vigour and spirit, is clearly the work of a born and prolific writer. Founded pretty closely on historical fact, it deals with a very interesting episode in the last year or two of the life of Michael Bakunin, perhaps the most engaging figure in the gallery of Russian philosophical anarchists….

There is some delicious comedy in [the] first part of the novel, and not comedy alone. The author collects an extremely varied company of revolutionaries …, all of them creatures of flesh and blood, sharply significant in their contrasts of political philosophy and type of experience. The giant Bakunin, frank, genial, energetic, courageous, astute—but impracticableness incarnate—towers over the others, who, however, are every whit as interesting as he. Then the mood changes from gay to grave…. Historically, the actual insurrection was a very small affair, but its very smallness allows the author to grasp each motive and play of emotion at work. After a brilliant little sketch of political conditions in Italy after the Risorgimento, he shows the pathetically inadequate preparations made by the conspirators for the revolution. Idealism is not absent from the scene, but its futility is summed up in the picture of Bakunin eternally smoking and drinking coffee while he manufactures his bombs. The story, which ends, as it begins, on a fine note of irony, is a clever and uncommonly sensitive study of the revolutionary mind and temper.

"New Novels: 'The Devil at the Long Bridge'," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1929), No. 1418, April 4, 1929, p. 274.