Books: Long Live the Duke

BOMARZO by Manuel Mujica-Lainez. 573 pages. Simon & Schuster. $10.

The figures chiseled out of Etruscan boulders include a 19-ft.-high elephant crushing a warrior in its trunk, a giant dismembering a man, a goddess with each pubic hair clearly delineated, and a 20-ft. satanic head whose mouth opens into a large chamber. These overwhelming creations are 50 miles north of Rome. It is known only that they were carved between 1555 and 1585 at the command of Duke Pier Francesco Orsini.

But are they part of a kinky Renaissance Disneyland for a bored nobleman or projections of a tortured soul? When he visited...

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