He was one of the cleverest of men, but also one of the least empathetic. He was as ruthless and selfish as a baby. “He is a child,” wrote the French novelist, René Boylesve, “he gives himself away with a thousand lies and tricks.” Child-like, he saw others only in relation to himself. In love, he was adoring, but once he had tired of a woman he ceased to think about her. He was an excellent employer (though far from punctilious about paying salaries). He was moved by the sweetness of small children. He was very kind to his dogs. But the woman who brought in his meals, he once wrote, was no more to him than a piece of furniture, a cupboard on feet.

Lucy Hughes-Hallett, “The Pike: Gabriele d’Annunzio – Poet, Seducer & Preacher of War”.

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