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Someone Else’s

Matthew Reynolds: Translating Cesare Pavese, 6 October 2005

Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930-50 
by Cesare Pavese, translated by Geoffrey Brock.
Carcanet, 370 pp., £14.95, April 2004, 1 85754 738 1
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The Faber Book of 20th-Century Italian Poems 
edited by Jamie McKendrick.
Faber, 167 pp., £12.99, June 2004, 0 571 19700 0
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... translating even when he writes in English? Two of the poems in Disaffections make you wonder. Pavese addressed them to Constance Dowling, the American actress with whom he was involved in the months before his suicide in 1950, and they now frame the sequence published posthumously as Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi (‘Death Will Come and Will Have ...

Stop It and Act

Tim Parks: Pavese’s Road to Suicide, 11 February 2010

This Business of Living: Diaries 1935-50 
by Cesare Pavese, translated by A.E. Murch.
Transaction, 350 pp., £24.50, March 2009, 978 1 4128 1019 7
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... Cesare Pavese kept a diary from 1935, when, aged 27, he was ‘exiled’ to Calabria for anti-Fascist activities, until 1950, when he committed suicide. During those years he became a successful poet and novelist, translated many celebrated American and British novels and, as chief editor at Einaudi, was responsible for publishing some of the most important writers of his time ...

On Mary Ruefle

Emily Berry, 14 December 2023

... Book). Which is not to say that her poems aren’t scholarly, or don’t deal with adult subjects. Cesare Pavese, Robert Walser, Emin Pasha, Anne Frank, Li Po, Keats and Cipriano de Rore are just a few of the historical characters who wander into her work. She often writes about ageing. ‘Pause’, her alarming and very funny piece about menopause (‘A ...

Keep the ball rolling

Tim Parks: Natalia Ginzburg, 29 June 2017

A Family Lexicon 
by Natalia Ginzburg, translated by Jenny McPhee.
NYRB, 224 pp., £9.99, August 2017, 978 1 59017 838 6
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... death Natalia remarked, ‘so he died, and no one was there when Leone died.’ Years later, after Cesare Pavese (her friend and another member of the Einaudi group) committed suicide, she wrote: ‘Pavese killed himself in summer when none of us were in Turin.’ In her novels the lonely death, far from family and ...

A Particular Way of Looking

J. Hoberman: NeoRealismo, 21 November 2019

NeoRealismo: The New Image in Italy 1932-60 
edited by Enrica Viganò.
Prestel, 349 pp., £49.99, September 2018, 978 3 7913 5769 0
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... Rossellini, Luchino Visconti and Vittorio De Sica – were professional filmmakers. The novelist Cesare Pavese went so far as to compare De Sica, perhaps ironically, with Thomas Mann, as the author of a national narrative. Had movies superseded literature? The Futurists thought so, proposing in one 1916 manifesto a cinema that would ‘co-operate in the ...

Broken Knowledge

Frank Kermode, 4 August 1983

The Oxford Book of Aphorisms 
edited by John Gross.
Oxford, 383 pp., £9.50, March 1983, 0 19 214111 2
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The Travellers’ Dictionary of Quotation: Who said what about where? 
edited by Peter Yapp.
Routledge, 1022 pp., £24.95, April 1983, 0 7100 0992 5
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... seems more designed to make men stumble than to be walked upon.’ (‘Designed more’?) Finally Cesare Pavese states that ‘religion consists of believing that everything that happens is extraordinarily important. It can never disappear from the world, precisely for that reason.’ Since these morceaux have a double endorsement, one might say what one ...


Russell Davies, 18 June 1981

Short Lives 
by Katinka Matson.
Picador, 366 pp., £2.50, February 1981, 9780330262194
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... But one of the most articulate and obsessive spokesmen for burning souls is unfortunately omitted: Cesare Pavese, whose letters and journals, apart from their interest as abstract pronouncements on the topic of self-destruction, are especially illuminating as examples of a modern European sensibility under pressure from its more muscular American ...

‘I’m glad what I done’

Gavin Millar, 13 October 1988

A Life 
by Elia Kazan.
Deutsch, 848 pp., £17.95, June 1988, 0 233 98292 2
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... was temporarily estranged, nor his adored mistress, the actress Constance Dowling (later to drive Cesare Pavese to suicide), with whom he was about to enjoy a passionate reconciliation. His fame now resides in his turning ‘friendly’ witness to the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1952, by naming colleagues who had formed a secret Communist ...

Vaporous Shapes

Tim Parks: Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘Whereabouts’, 1 July 2021

by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Bloomsbury, 176 pp., £14.99, May, 978 1 5266 2995 1
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... in Italian literature: collections of short pieces by Natalia Ginzburg or Italo Calvino – or Cesare Pavese’s Among Women Only, another novel in which a cool protagonist is both drawn to and repulsed by the intensity of sexual relationships. But the complete immersion in Italian culture evident in Ginzburg, Calvino and ...

In the Potato Patch

Jenny Turner: Penelope Fitzgerald, 19 December 2013

Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 508 pp., £25, November 2013, 978 0 7011 8495 7
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... recessive protagonists are another: how many times do you have to read Innocence before you notice Cesare? The very odd, foreign-unto-themselves Englishness of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Arts and Crafts movement might be another, as manifested in the love of colour and clearness, craft, plant forms and the Romantic re-enchantment of nature: the ...

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