Tanto Gentile e Tanto Onesta (Melinda)
18 editions – Number one best seller in Italy, UK and Germany
Sally Beaumann, New York Magazine; Melinda: A Modern Morality
“…Comic-strip characters cannot moralize. It’s as if Batman began to preach the Sermon on the Mount…”
At the age of thirteen, after having seduced her father, Melinda was placed under the care of the best analyst in the world, Professor Hochtensteil.” Not a bad opening sentence. Immediate suggestions of sex, wealth (the best analyst in the world), and perversion (she’s only a year behind Lolita). The rest of the plot of Gaia Servadio’s first novel seems to maintain the standards of the opener. Melinda goes on to seduce and analyze her psychiatrist; has seven husbands; becomes a Duchess and an M.P.; organizes the Great English Train Robbery; plays at being a secret agent and is finally triumphantly shot into space in a rocket bearing here name, to become the first human being on the moon. In Italy, under the title Tanto Gentile e Tanto Onesta, the novel was extremely successful. It is now being published in France, England and Germany, as well as America, and is already receiving considerable attention, for a first novel, in the glossies. It would be unfortunate if this publicity were to delude anyone into thinking that Melinda is anything more than a romp.
Miss Servadio has chosen this fantastic vehicle to support what is, surprisingly enough, a very conventional 19th century morality story. Melinda, you see, isn’t happy after all. She thinks she is, but, poor thing, she’s hopelessly deluded, and we and the author know much better. Melinda is set up as a glamorous but precarious Aunt Sally, only to be pelted and finally demolished. For all her beauty, wit and charm, she is a hollow creature. She has an infinite number of lovers, and bears them and her husbands, over a few short years, a great many children, but she is, for all that, completely frigid. Her only satisfaction comes from masturbation, and the novel is really a chronicle of her search for sexual and spiritual orgasm.
Melinda Publishing, who seduces her father, Abraham Publishing, at the age of thirteen is a Lorelei Lee of the Space Age, a good-bad little girl and a glutton, it turns out, for punishment. The dark closet she is finally shut up in, to revolve eternally like a cross little Pleiad, proves to be an orbiting satellite. The book, described as a Pop novel, is a sort of TV spectacular, in episodes, of the confessions of a female id, escaped from the super-ego. It is a blow-up of its heroine- candid, impatient, greedy and stealthily observant of the naked, unsuspecting world.
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux