Pursuing and expanding the concept of the "novelized essay" that had served him so well in Navigator of the Flood, his first venture into writing, Brelich here takes up the biblical story of Abraham and Sarah. After the long quiescent interval succeeding the Flood, Abraham, repudiating the idols worshipped by his forebears, "discovers" God - which is to say that the Lord once again takes an interest in human affairs, settling upon another willing but divided patriarch as the instrument for procreating His chosen people. It is Abraham's servile infatuation with his frigid and narcissistic wife Sarah - "the most beautiful woman in the world" - that poses the greatest stumbling block to the Lord's designs. But this is also the story of a long and painful marriage between two mutually exasperating people. How the miracle of the "holy embrace" is finally accomplished - that is, how their son Isaac (whose name means "Laughter") is conceived in accordance with God's command - forms the substance of this profound and witty book.
Mario Brelich (1910-82) gained fame in the Italian literary world with the publication of "The Holy Embrace "in 1972. Also available from The Marlboro Press / Northwestern are "Navigator of the Flood, "about Noah and "The Work of Betrayal"--the story of Judas Iscariot's betrayal of Christ as "investigated" by Poe's great detective, Dupin.John Shepley has translated the works of Brelich, Camon, and Pasolini, among others.