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Like a Mullet in Love

James Wood: Homage to Verga, 10 August 2000

Cavalleria Rusticana and Other Stories 
by Giovanni Verga, translated by G.H. McWilliam.
Penguin, 272 pp., £8.99, June 1999, 0 14 044741 5
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... and promptly dies. This is a scene from ‘Jeli the Shepherd’, a story by the Sicilian writer Giovanni Verga (1840-1922), who is not read much in English, and often only dutifully in Italy, where he has the cloudy venerability of the canonical. In English, he is known, perhaps, for ‘Cavalleria rusticana’, a tale which became a play and then an ...

Buckets of Empathy

James Wood, 30 March 2000

On Trust: Art and the Temptations of Suspicion 
by Gabriel Josipovici.
Yale, 294 pp., £18.95, October 1999, 0 300 07991 5
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... inner lives. And this is true not only of Tolstoy, but of Chekhov and the great peasant stories of Giovanni Verga, whom D.H. Lawrence rightly called Homeric. Such writers see life as their characters would, yet combine a proximity to them with a detachment from them. Perhaps the most obstructive fact for Josipovici’s argument is not that such ...


Joseph Farrell: In Palermo, 14 December 2000

... is the key to everything in Italy.’ It could equally be said that Pirandello – more than Giovanni Verga, the verista novelist admired and translated by D.H. Lawrence (and discussed here by James Wood on 10 August) – is the key to Sicily, where people like to explain, over the most concentrated espresso drunk anywhere in Europe, exactly why ...

Lady Chatterley’s Sneakers

David Trotter, 30 August 2012

... novel’s third and final version, Lawrence finished translating a collection of short fiction by Giovanni Verga which was to appear as ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’ and Other Stories. In his preface, he made the case for a ‘formlessness’ in fiction which would more fully capture what happens in the transition from one deed or mood to another. ‘A ...

After the Earthquake

Tim Parks: Silone and Silone, 9 July 2009

Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone 
by Stanislao Pugliese.
Farrar, Straus, 426 pp., $35, June 2009, 978 0 374 11348 3
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... Those who did appreciate Silone focused on his attention to peasant life and compared him to Giovanni Verga; but in Verga’s finely plotted Sicilian novellas, the peasants are the main actors, not merely a backdrop for the dilemmas of political activists. Where Silone does fit into an Italian tradition is in his ...


James Wood: John Carey, 8 March 2001

Pure Pleasure: A Guide to the 20th Century’s Most Enjoyable Books 
by John Carey.
Faber, 173 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 571 20448 1
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... Bennett who would attend to Mr Ansell. Think not only of Chekhov, but of the Italian verismo of Giovanni Verga, the simple Sicilian stories of Pirandello, and of Pavese’s novels; or of Dreiser’s Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy; of Bohumil Hrabal; of Christina Stead; of Henry Green’s Loving; or of V.S. Pritchett’s short stories ...

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