Books: Oliver Copperfield in Italy

A LAST LAMP BURNING by Gwyn Griffin. 512 pages. Putnam. $6.95.

Horace admired the bay. Virgil composed his Georgics and chose to be buried there. "I pardon all," wrote Goethe, "who have lost their minds in Naples." Readers will pardon British Novelist Gwyn Griffin (A Significant Experience), who clearly lost his mind in Naples, and has here written a vast, violent novel that commandingly redeems his mania.

The story's hero, 16-year-old Gennaro, is named for the city's patron, San Gennaro, whose clotted, vial-encased blood, according to tradition, miraculously bubbles three times each year. Gennaro's blood...

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