In the new issue of the Salisbury Review (subscription required), Dalrymple reviews a biography by Lucy Hughes-Hallett called The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio, Poet, Seducer and Preacher of War. Dalrymple describes the subject:
D’Annunzio was an exquisite: a poet, novelist, aesthete, Lothario and, in effect if not quite literally, a mass murderer… He was devoid of scruple, utterly unconcerned for others and saw nothing wrong or dishonourable in running up huge bills at other people’s expense. He felt as unbound by social convention as by morality of any kind, regarded luxury as his due, and given the choice between the deaths of a thousand ordinary men and forgoing his favourite chocolates for a day or two he would unhesitatingly have chosen the former.
He praises Hughes-Hallett for avoiding shrillness and allowing D’Annunzio’s behavior to speak for itself. His only criticism is that the author “gives us very little idea of the quality of his verse” but otherwise says the book is excellent.