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Ashes

Nicholas Spice

19 December 1985
The Assault 
by Harry Mulisch, translated by Claire Nicolas White.
Collins Harvill, 204 pp., £8.95, November 1985, 0 00 271011 0
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All Our Yesterdays 
by Natalia Ginzburg, translated by Angus Davidson.
Carcanet, 300 pp., £9.95, March 1985, 0 85635 593 3
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Family Sayings 
by Natalia Ginzburg, translated by D.M. Low.
Carcanet, 181 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 0 85635 504 6
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The Little Virtues 
by Natalia Ginzburg, translated by Dick Davis.
110 pp., £6.95, June 1985, 0 85635 553 4
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Strange Loop 
by Amanda Prantera.
Cape, 175 pp., £8.50, June 1984, 0 224 02210 5
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The Cabalist 
by Amanda Prantera.
Cape, 184 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 224 02326 8
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... Il Figlio dell’Uomo’, ‘The Son of Man’, an essay by NataliaGinzburg written in 1946 for the paper Unita, begins: ‘There has been a war and people have seen so many houses reduced to rubble that they no longer feel safe in their own homes which once seemed so quiet ...

Keep the ball rolling

Tim Parks: Natalia Ginzburg

28 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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... where it’s impossible to distance oneself from the other people involved, or not without a traumatic, perhaps fatal break. This may seem a strange preamble to a consideration of the work of NataliaGinzburg, a writer sometimes criticised in Italy for having restricted her comments on the highly influential, privileged and politicised peer group she lived among to accounts of their domestic ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Gospel According to Saint Matthew’

21 March 2013
The Gospel According to Saint Matthew 
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini.
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... Palestine, 28), they enact not the story of Christ but the mystery of the story. And there are faces that have an interest for other reasons: those of a 22-year-old Giorgio Agamben, of the novelist NataliaGinzburg, or Pasolini’s own mother – as Mary grown older. The talk itself in the movie – that is, all the intense verbatim quotation of Christ’s words – works as long as we can maintain the ...

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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... often withdrawn state. Rejected by his English professor as politically unsound, the thesis was overseen instead by a French professor, after intervention from Pavese’s left-wing friend Leone Ginzburg. Thus began the image of Pavese as a left-wing activist and the comforting illusion that the translation and propagation of American literature might be a threat to the regime. That same year, 1930 ...

Diary

Eric Hobsbawm: An Assembly of Ghosts

21 April 2005
... very much rockier Giulio Einaudi, son of the man who became the first president of Italy. His was the most prestigious publishing house in the country (Pavese, Calvino, Vittorini, Primo Levi, NataliaGinzburg, not to mention Gramsci), and, for a couple of decades after the war, probably the finest in the world. He would take (under-royaltied) authors like me to dinner at the opulent Cambio ...

Shockers

Jeremy Treglown

6 August 1992
Writers on World War Two: An Anthology 
edited by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 752 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3912 9
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Legacies and Ambiguities: Post-war Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan 
edited by Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer.
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins, 323 pp., $35, February 1992, 0 943875 30 7
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... Richler’s wide-ranging anthology reminds anyone who needs reminding how much they have contributed to its literature. Simone de Beauvoir, Elizabeth Bowen, Marguerite Duras, Martha Gellhorn, NataliaGinzburg, Shirley Hazzard, Doris Lessing and many other women writers are here (but not Anne Frank or Hannah Arendt), and among the more unexpected selections are the reminiscences of Soviet women ...

Full of Words

Tim Parks: ‘Arturo’s Island’

15 August 2019
Arturo’s Island 
by Elsa Morante, translated by Ann Goldstein.
Pushkin, 370 pp., £9.99, May, 978 1 78227 495 7
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... with wistful awe. Morante was writing at the height of Italian neorealism. In the early 1950s Carlo Cassola, Beppe Fenoglio, Vasco Pratolini, Morante’s husband, Alberto Moravia, and her friends NataliaGinzburg and Pier Paolo Pasolini were all in different ways seeking to describe postwar desolation in spare, chastened prose. Morante was having none of it. Her own writing is more reminiscent of the ...

Don’t Look Down

Nicholas Spice: Dull Britannia

8 April 2010
Family Britain 1951-57 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 776 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 0 7475 8385 1
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... David Hare says as he remembers his youth in the 1950s. ‘England: the most civilised country on earth, but also the most boring!’ was the verdict of Hannah Arendt in 1952; ten years later NataliaGinzburg, visiting London, would have agreed: ‘England is never vulgar. It is conventional, but not vulgar … the English rarely surprise.’ The class system had much to do with the stolidity of ...

Slammed by Hurricanes

Jenny Turner: Elsa Morante

19 April 2017
The World Saved by Kids: And Other Epics 
by Elsa Morante, translated by Cristina Viti.
Seagull, 319 pp., £19.50, January 2017, 978 0 85742 379 5
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... in his first film, Accattone (1961); she went on to choose the music for The Gospel According to Matthew (1964), which featured the philosopher Giorgio Agamben as the disciple Philip, the novelist NataliaGinzburg as Mary of Bethany and Susanna, Pasolini’s mother, as the older Virgin Mary. A few years later, Pasolini wrote warmly about Morante’s Il mondo salvato dai ragazzini (1968), a dramatic ...

Travelling in the Classic Style

Thomas Laqueur: Primo Levi

5 September 2002
Primo Levi’s Ordinary Virtues: From Testimony to Ethics 
by Robert Gordon.
Oxford, 316 pp., £45, October 2001, 0 19 815963 3
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Primo Levi 
by Ian Thomson.
Hutchinson, 624 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 09 178531 6
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The Double Bond: Primo Levi, a Biography 
by Carole Angier.
Viking, 898 pp., £25, April 2002, 0 670 88333 6
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... doctor, as I remember, proved this by showing that animals within jumping reach of the insect got the disease and those placed higher up did not.) Levi’s literary career had a shaky start – NataliaGinzburg rejected his first book for Einaudi, not quite on a par with Gide’s rejection of Proust, but still embarrassing – and it didn’t take off until The Truce in 1963. (The Italian edition ...

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