The Cabala by Thornton Wilder
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The Cabala was Thornton Wilder's first novel, and cemented him as one of the greatest American writers of his day. In fact, two years after the publication of The Cabala, Wilder would go on to win a Pulitzer for his follow-up novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey.
The Cabala, written as a semiautobiographical novel of Wilder's own experiences, captures the first-person observations an educated young American in post-World War 1 Rome. There, he's introduced to a group of intellectuals who, despite their storied past, are seeing their influence wane. But the group is charmed and intrigued by the narrator, whom they dub Samuele, and its members begin to treat them as their confidant in their myriad dramas.
Upon its release, The Cabala was lauded as a genre-defying masterpiece: it provokes in the reader a sense of fantasy in what would otherwise be a straightforward historical fiction.