"Cocaine", by Pitigrilli, published by Greenberg, New York, 1933, First American Edition.
Pitigrilli was the pseudonym for Dino Segre, (9 May 1893 - 8 May 1975), an Italian writer who made his living as a journalist and novelist. His most noted novel was "Cocaine" (1921), published under his pseudonym. It has been translated into several languages and re-issued in several editions.
Pitigrilli published novels up until 1974, the year before his death.
In "Cocaine", perhaps his most successful effort at a sustained narrative, Pitigrilli describes a world of cocaine dens, gambling parlors, orgies, lewd entertainment, and seances. His main character Tito Arnaudi is a failed medical student who has just been hired as a journalist in Paris, where he begins to investigate cocaine dens in order to write an article for a Paris newspaper appropriately named "The Fleeting Moment". In the course of his research, he indulges in the white powder, which for a time acts as a kind of welcome balm, giving one "a sense not just of euphoria, but of boundless optimism and a special kind of receptivity to insults."
"In 1920, at the age of just twenty-seven, a young Italian named Dino Segre, writing under the pen name Pitigrilli, achieved notoriety with a book of short stories called "Luxurious Breasts", followed the next year by the novel "Cocaine" and a second book of stories entitled "The Chastity Belt".
Behind Italy's official facade of bourgeois morality, traditional family life, and patriotism, Pitigrilli saw a world driven by sex, power and greed, in which adultery, illegitimate children, and hypocrisy were the order of the day and husbands and wives were little more than respectable-seeming pimps and prostitutes. Born in Turin, Segre himself had been the illegitimate child of a Jewish father--also named Dino Segre--and a young Catholic mother. His father did not marry his mother until their child was eight years old. In his work he delighted in turning conventional morality on its head, along with most of the Ten Commandments: "Never tell the truth. A lie is a weapon. I speak of useful, necessary lies. A useless lie is as unpleasant and odious as a useless homicide...
Pitigrilli's cynical amorality captured something of the spirit of Italy in the early 1920s, a society that emerged from World War I with many of its traditional beliefs in pieces. The calls to glory and sacrifice and national renewal had proven cruel illusions, with the death and mutilation of millions having resulted in but a few minor territorial changes. Meanwhile, traditional pillars of society--such as the Catholic Church and the country's economic and political elite--had lost much of their authority.
In Paris and Turin, where he worked as a writer and journalist, Pitigrilli cavorted with society's upper crust, which experimented with theosophy, occult seances, gambling, and narcotics as means of replacing the old certainties of church and fatherland.
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Hard boards, original publisher's cloth, red lettering on spine [some wear see scan]; 5" x 7.1/2"; 263 pages, some soiling, some pages have bigger brown spots, some corner folds, some paper and glue residue inside covers, very good binding, good condition.