I'm back with a HUGE PILE OF ITALIAN BOOKS!!!!!

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WHEEEEEE!!!!! Quitting smoking and going out and eating out was so very worth the effort: I saved up and spent February in Italy, studying Italian, getting started on Latin and Roman history for school, getting an on-my-feet edumacation in art history, and SHOPPING FOR BOOKS!!! I could barely move my suitcase unassisted when I left, but now I have Calvino, Cesar Pavese, oodles of yummy Moravia, un giallo (detective novel; this specimen's a very noir, comic one, using the genre as a vehicle for the author's crotchetyness, so it's similar to what I'm writing), a big thick history of Roma, a history of the Etruscans, some contemporary stuff, an obscurish 'working-class' author I overheard some crazy sweet prissy nerd lady at the lefty bookstore raving about, what else... and a bunch of these terrific pocket editions of classical texts that have the Greek or Latin on one page and the Italian translation on the facing page mmmm...I'm about to come molten gold all over the floor... I feel like the queen of the world!!!!! Anybody ever go on vacation and come back with enough books to make coming home seem not all that depressing really because your brain can still be there?

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Sunday, 6 March 2005 02:35 (seventeen years ago) link

Oh yeah! I also went to the Keats-Shelly museum -- bawled my stupid head off in the room where Keats died -- and bought a neat little 3-Euro copy of Keats's lyric poems, which I shamefully haven't touched since (my first attempt at) college. There I also realized I hadn't looked at Don Juan since then either, and didn't read the whole thing to begin with! The more I read, the more illiterate I seem to become...

But I did informally test out, after 30 hours of class, at a "university-intermediate" level in Italian... if anybody wants a recommendation for a great Italian school in Rome, let me know. It's cheaper than the other schools, too. The teacher was my kinda grammar nazi. I love that sort of passion.

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Sunday, 6 March 2005 02:43 (seventeen years ago) link

hei you should have let us know, we could have had a nice FAP in Rome...

misshajim (strand), Monday, 7 March 2005 12:22 (seventeen years ago) link

Welcome back! It's super to hear from you again. I WONDERED where you were! Glad you had such a great time!

pepektheassassin (pepektheassassin), Monday, 7 March 2005 17:11 (seventeen years ago) link

PS I missed you. The quiet here was almost overwhelming....

pepektheassassin (pepektheassassin), Monday, 7 March 2005 17:13 (seventeen years ago) link

(wb, ann.)

cozen (Cozen), Monday, 7 March 2005 20:29 (seventeen years ago) link

oh! Rats, misshajim, I had no idear you were in Rome. I was remiss in not letting the other worms know where I was going -- I turn into a giant flake when I'm about to get my suddenly-happy butt away from the slave pit...

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Monday, 7 March 2005 21:09 (seventeen years ago) link

Anybody ever go on vacation and come back with enough books to make coming home seem not all that depressing really because your brain can still be there?

I've barely been anywhere, especially not anywhere I'd really want to stay, except for Canada—and yes, I did buy a bunch of books in Canada, but it's not quite the same; I've probably bought as many Canadiana books since I returned.

But with foreign languages—I have never though about it in these terms, really, but it's a great idea!

Casuistry (Chris P), Monday, 7 March 2005 22:37 (seventeen years ago) link

Ann, have you read Il deserto dei Tartari by Buzzati?

Michael White (Hereward), Monday, 7 March 2005 23:04 (seventeen years ago) link

and have you seen the film? there is an ilf thread on, and it stars max von sydow. oh would tht he wd post to ilx!

cozen (Cozen), Tuesday, 8 March 2005 00:53 (seventeen years ago) link

link: valerio zurlini.

cozen (Cozen), Tuesday, 8 March 2005 00:54 (seventeen years ago) link

Funny you should ask about Il deserto -- I picked it up on my trip! One of my first major reading projects in Italian was his Sessanta Racconti, which was intimidatingly thick but so full of weird creepy goodness that I forgot to be daunted. I'd wanted to read Il deserto for months but the scraggy copies available on Amazon stateside were about twenty bucks... I got it on sale for four Euros, ha!

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Tuesday, 8 March 2005 02:29 (seventeen years ago) link

Ohhh! Dino Buzzati! You must read "Un Amore". It's really a great book! very, very funny and interesting is "le notti difficili" (Hard nights, maybe?). You should know some other things about his life to understand him better.

Bed (Bed), Wednesday, 9 March 2005 16:29 (seventeen years ago) link

Thank you... I would REALLY like to know what made Buzzati tick -- is Notti difficili autobiographical?

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Wednesday, 9 March 2005 21:06 (seventeen years ago) link

I'm getting toward the end of Moravia's La Ciociara now and, since despite my best efforts I'm hopelessly absorbed in my own place and time, I can't help comparing the account of WWII Italy to WWNow U.S.

In one part (careful, all of this is translated AND from memory) one character, an overeducated cynic, is watching as the Germans invade and bomb the Italian countryside; everybody's panicking and the cynic smiles and says "Weren't you guys all saying you didn't care whether the Germans or the English won, since they're all the same?"

Kind of reminded me of the things people were saying after the dust cleared and Nader had helped Bush II win (yeah yeah, so he didn't really win it) his first election and then all hell broke loose.

File under: history repeats... again.

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 20:43 (seventeen years ago) link

I got the only first of my university life writing about Buzzati. Happy days.

(I never read Il Deserto dei Tartari, but we discussed it at length and I felt I'd "got" it just from that. I hope you enjoy(ed) it)

Markelby (Mark C), Friday, 18 March 2005 15:33 (seventeen years ago) link

four years pass...

Carlo Gadda anyone (ok-ish article in the LRB site), but what do ILB-ers think about him?

There is probably too little available to form much of an opinion but it doesn't cost it to throw this out there.

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 26 April 2009 19:04 (thirteen years ago) link

three months pass...

Searching through the ILX archives there are some things on Leonardo Sciascia.

And I am going to be starting on Two Women by Moravia soon.

Has anyone read anything by Ignazio Silone? Apparently he was a member of the italian Communist Party but there are accounts he worked for the fascists, but all that really compelling history aside does anyone have any recommendations?

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 8 August 2009 17:07 (thirteen years ago) link

one month passes...

Digging Sciascia and have Silone's Fontamara as a library loan.

Anyone read Vittorini's Conversations in Sicily?

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 12 September 2009 10:21 (thirteen years ago) link

The more I read, the more illiterate I seem to become...

otm. I miss Ann Sterzinger.

Aimless, Saturday, 12 September 2009 17:22 (thirteen years ago) link

what happened to her? did she announce she was leaving or just stop turning up one day?

thomp, Saturday, 12 September 2009 17:45 (thirteen years ago) link

vittorini's sicilia book is amazing. there's a film about it (?) by straub-huillet. amazing, too.

moullet, Saturday, 12 September 2009 17:58 (thirteen years ago) link

After she entered grad school to study greek and latin classics her appearances in ILB have been few and far between. We Sterzinger fans are still looking for closure. **sob**

Aimless, Saturday, 12 September 2009 18:07 (thirteen years ago) link

Of course, we could be consoled in a minor way by reading her blog, which does convey a sense of why we would miss her enlightened misanthropy around here.

Aimless, Saturday, 12 September 2009 18:15 (thirteen years ago) link

or you could read her novel. or email her.

thomp, Saturday, 12 September 2009 18:28 (thirteen years ago) link

Reading her novel seems like excellent advice, especially buying it before reading it. Emailing her seems too... presumptuous. Unless, of course, it were an email stating that one had purchased her novel, read it, and loved it. What author could resist such an email?

Aimless, Saturday, 12 September 2009 18:35 (thirteen years ago) link

Ha! I googled and found her blog the second time I revived this thread, its just hilarious and lovely really - is her book about the restaurant industry then? ;-) I should do some more googling.

Then again I won't now I said that.

Also thought of emailing her to come back and entertain and enlighten us, then thought better of it.

Thanks moullet - I've done another IL loan earlier today, can't wait.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 12 September 2009 19:57 (thirteen years ago) link

(doh of course the details are on her blog. Don't remember seeing that last time.)

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 12 September 2009 20:03 (thirteen years ago) link

one year passes...

Conversations in Sicily is brilliant (got the Alane Mason translation). Totally unique how it breaks down the language into an atomic simplicity of sound on the one hand and, then, on the other, how it then uses the building blocks for, well, conversations...gotta see the film.

Elsa Morante - History is a classic. What should I go onto?

Got Pasolini's A Violent Life, for the cover, but I'll get onto it someday.

Another Italian author find is Artemisa by Anna Banti.

On the look out for The Moro Affair by Sciascia, especially after catching a DVD of Il Divo, which is a kind of post-Moro affair thing (and probably the only good film Sorrentino will ever make?)

So I likes me some Italian authors.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 17 September 2010 19:07 (twelve years ago) link

three months pass...

Italian Noir

^Broadcast last night. A good watch (lots of lecturers from Italian departments: kept thinking that if this was made a year or two from now many of them wouldn't have a job in here.

The historical narrative of 'murders don't get solved/the crime as a means of looking into fascism/etc' only held up to Sciascia. Anglo Noir's shtick is much more pronounced than many of they would like to admit by the time it got into Baraldi and Cataldo: a lot of revenge fantasy and unflinching violence straight out of old style hardboiled noir. Only Lucarelli's fascist cop sounds interesting.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 28 December 2010 11:02 (twelve years ago) link

nine months pass...


Malaparte anyone? Don't have access but might get this issue for that article by Edmund.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 8 October 2011 10:24 (eleven years ago) link

two years pass...

Excellent piece on 'Zibaldone'

xyzzzz__, Friday, 27 December 2013 11:35 (nine years ago) link

For a start it says nothing about Leopardi (apart from saying it keeps the personal away = great to see an article mentioning he isn't a hunchback, which colours your view of where he is coming from) and talks about it as a piece of many more dimensions the John Gray penned New Statesman piece (which only talks about the bits that sound like John Gray).

The only downside is how it makes a great argument for reading the whole thing and not skimming thru any bits around language, that all of it does form into a coherent set of arguments, mostly composed over a two year period.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 27 December 2013 11:51 (nine years ago) link

haha when i saw it was you i knew this would be the zibaldone

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Friday, 27 December 2013 19:01 (nine years ago) link

I'm just too predictable.

To add to the above I only say downside because I don't want to carry this around and I seriously can't be arsed with an ereader.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 28 December 2013 11:42 (nine years ago) link

six months pass...

My year in Italian Fiction:

- Fallen out w/Gadda. Picked up Acquainted w/Grief again earlier this year and didn't like the showy prose

Currently reading Malaparte's Kaputt and its turning out to be the best journalistic novel, not that are many? In that he stretches the imagery but the conversations feel reported and accurate in their savage content. I love and yet feel a repulsion toward the narrator, how he feels a sympathy for the poor and beaten, and yet he chooses to hang out with the victors. The reflections seem substantial, or at least not that novel: the Germans are frightened more by the weak than the strong. The reading is wide, attentive. Feels like Celine picked up on this for his trilogy? Or that's what a writer used to do...they make their choices, live them out, then survive a hanging to tell the world about it.

Makes Morante's History: A Novel which I liked it at the time, seem a lesser work in the concentration of war and its effects on a mother and child, with the existential guy later on to provide wider reflection.

- Picked up more poets: Quasimodo and Montale, see how I get on with that?

- Read a review of the latest Elena Ferrante novel. Need to read her next.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 22 July 2014 09:39 (eight years ago) link

five months pass...

Read and loved all the Ferrante.

Back onto Morante - finished Arturo's Island earlier today and this is really way better than History. There is a sentimentality to it that feels off to me. Arcoeli sounds unsparing as well. Both books are written from the POV of men.

Also saw Straub/Huillet's Sicilia!, their adaptation of the Vittorini. If you ever get a chance you are in for a treat.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 8 January 2015 11:45 (eight years ago) link

i bought _days of abandonment_ and am excited to read it but the US editions of her work have the ugliest covers i have ever seen on a "serious novel."


adam, Thursday, 8 January 2015 12:44 (eight years ago) link

all the europa editions stuff i have is mad ugly tho

adam, Thursday, 8 January 2015 12:44 (eight years ago) link

one month passes...

tomasso landolfi- gogol's wife

ancient texts, things that can't be pre-dated (President Keyes), Sunday, 8 February 2015 02:47 (seven years ago) link

The cover of My Brilliant Friend signifies when you get into the last section, re the wedding.

dow, Sunday, 8 February 2015 02:56 (seven years ago) link

Finsihing a couple of Natalia Ginzburg novellas. In Velentino there are three births, three deaths (one a suicide of course), a wedding, another aborted wedding, all told matter of factly in 45 mins. Its just life, in all its disappointments.

Sagitarius is even better. Here the mother - daughter relationship is complex. In Italian novels I get the impression the mother is a village simpleton but here it seems she is more of a frustrated wannabe intellectual.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 12 February 2015 10:09 (seven years ago) link

Sorry again, Valentino and Sagittarius

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 12 February 2015 10:16 (seven years ago) link

eight months pass...


Great to see a couple of pieces on Levi. Need to re-read The Periodic Table

xyzzzz__, Friday, 16 October 2015 23:00 (seven years ago) link

Thanks. I've got a copy of The Periodic Table somewhere around here, in case I haven't mentioned it before, IN ITALIAN!!!!

Raz Turned Blue (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 17 October 2015 02:18 (seven years ago) link

This is better, maybe because the argument for a darker conclusion is made to stick.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 23 October 2015 16:14 (seven years ago) link


Are You A Borad Or Are You A URL? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 23 October 2015 16:26 (seven years ago) link

haha when I linked that it hadn't been opened up for non-subscribers.

I was thinking that the NYRB piece is better than the piece in the New Yorker

xyzzzz__, Friday, 23 October 2015 16:30 (seven years ago) link


Are You A Borad Or Are You A URL? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 24 October 2015 00:35 (seven years ago) link

four months pass...

This series of blog posts on the Levi set has turned into a monument of crank.

I stare at Brock's Pavese everytime I find myself in the LRB bookshop but don't want to stump up 18 quid or whatever. Could send me over the edge tho'.

Ippolito Nuevo looks interesting (I love his name)

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 16 March 2016 23:26 (six years ago) link

I get that Parks wants a more down-to-earth translation (I get that Ann Goldstein is possibly too boringly literary). They are v good pieces - and they have certainly sharpened my sense of what is really translating into English or not. otoh great writing translates even if translated badly (or if the editing is bunk).

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 16 March 2016 23:30 (six years ago) link

Parks is very entertaining, though. I really enjoyed his collection of those NYRB pieces that came out last year (this year in the US).

like Uber, but for underpants (James Morrison), Thursday, 17 March 2016 01:38 (six years ago) link

Who's Ippolito Nuevo, btw? A quick Googling gets me only stuff I cannot understand.

like Uber, but for underpants (James Morrison), Thursday, 17 March 2016 01:40 (six years ago) link

Sorry its Nievo:


Really want to read the above but no subscriber.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 17 March 2016 08:12 (six years ago) link

Now i feel even dumber, as i own but have not read that book!

like Uber, but for underpants (James Morrison), Thursday, 17 March 2016 11:06 (six years ago) link

Had an idea to poll off-the-classics-lists from the 19th century. Totally arbitrary list -will have to read and put that in if I like it.

This looks so much more interesting than Manzoni but I'm indie like that.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 17 March 2016 12:12 (six years ago) link

Hey, xyzzzz, I found that I had that Parks/Nievo article you wanted to read, so I uploaded it here: www.scribd.com/doc/305150648/Tim-Parks-Ippolito-Nievo

like Uber, but for underpants (James Morrison), Thursday, 17 March 2016 22:38 (six years ago) link

Thanks James! ha, Parks compares it to Manzoni at the end.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 18 March 2016 09:05 (six years ago) link

one month passes...

New Morante - the world needs it: http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/W/bo25015883.html

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 11 May 2016 22:35 (six years ago) link

Ferdinando Camon's trilogy "The Fifth Estate" / "Memorial" / "Life Everlasting" is my current Italian tip. The absence of matching English editions of the three is a matter of great regret IMO.

Tim, Thursday, 12 May 2016 15:23 (six years ago) link

The Morante sounds very exciting: I've been meaning to read her for a long time, but I'm not sure where best to start.

one way street, Thursday, 12 May 2016 15:49 (six years ago) link

This + Alexiviech are the most exciting new bks in a while

ows - def Arturo's Island if you can get hold of the out of print copy (did via my library). Arcoeli is on Open Letter and I was talking to someone abt it on twitter as she was raving about it (its how I found out about this). Historia was good at the time and is disappointing when set against her other fiction.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 12 May 2016 18:07 (six years ago) link

one month passes...

I just read "The Unseen" by Nanni Balestrini and it's a fierce novel of (and from) the Autonomia movement of the 70s/80s, brutal, angry, upsetting and highly recommended.

Tim, Wednesday, 22 June 2016 08:47 (six years ago) link

two months pass...

Yet to pick up.

Lads lads: http://www.nyrb.com/collections/forthcoming/products/ernesto?variant=30483108743


Read the Ginzburg in the old translation and its fkn great. Saba is unknown to me and I'm excited.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 20 September 2016 21:55 (six years ago) link

(I get that Ann Goldstein is possibly too boringly literary). Maybe somewhere, but not in the Neapolitan Novels.

dow, Tuesday, 20 September 2016 22:37 (six years ago) link

six months pass...

Review of A Family Lexicon

Got to read this fantatsic piece on Elsa Mornate at the weekend. Not just a review of that book but a beautiful overview of all her works and the little of crit published in English. A must.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 10 April 2017 21:33 (five years ago) link

seven months pass...

So I called Gadda showy for Acquainted with Grief above in the William Weaver translation but now I see Experience of Pain is coming out (I assume its a re-translation as it has a similar set-up, words in either title amount to same).

xyzzzz__, Friday, 17 November 2017 11:06 (five years ago) link

I have that, but having read several other demented books recently i am waiting until the balance of my mind is restored before tackling ut

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Sunday, 19 November 2017 07:45 (five years ago) link

one year passes...

Terrific piece on Bassani:


I haven't tackled this piece on Elsa Morante but will do so later:


xyzzzz__, Friday, 25 January 2019 09:00 (four years ago) link

And I need to read some Bassani - its a gap.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 25 January 2019 09:00 (four years ago) link

Just been reading him, so thanks for that!

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Friday, 25 January 2019 21:38 (four years ago) link

ah yeah I saw that.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 26 January 2019 11:11 (four years ago) link

three months pass...

I just read "The Unseen" by Nanni Balestrini and it's a fierce novel of (and from) the Autonomia movement of the 70s/80s, brutal, angry, upsetting and highly recommended.

― Tim, Wednesday, 22 June 2016 08:47 (two years ago) Permalink

Just seen on my twitter that he has passed away today

xyzzzz__, Monday, 20 May 2019 10:42 (three years ago) link

RIP. I don't stop recommending that book, though I'm not sure anyone has ever read it as a result of my recommendation.

Tim, Monday, 20 May 2019 11:38 (three years ago) link

Gotta say fiction around the struggle are a bit underwhelming to me (Victor Serge is probably best but there are a lot of other things in his fiction as well).

xyzzzz__, Monday, 20 May 2019 11:51 (three years ago) link

Well I agree but this one stands out (and I've only read a bit of Serge but found "The Unseen" even more affecting - it really is unbelievably good.

Tim, Monday, 20 May 2019 18:16 (three years ago) link

Cool, will order

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 21 May 2019 07:48 (three years ago) link

You're welcome to borrow mine, then I won't feel guilty if you don't like it!

Tim, Tuesday, 21 May 2019 08:50 (three years ago) link

Haha would've been fine either way but I was thinking of asking you. Cool will mail you sometime this week to arrange :)

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 21 May 2019 10:13 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

Nice enough account of the latest translations of Ginzburg's quietly tragic books:


xyzzzz__, Saturday, 20 July 2019 13:40 (three years ago) link

one year passes...

I really enjoyed this article - the book plots it describes are wonderful. https://t.co/ZDsoD0ObEf

— Laura Waddell (@lauraewaddell) December 17, 2020

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 17 December 2020 23:36 (two years ago) link

eight months pass...

This piece on Roberto Calasso is pretty great


xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 7 September 2021 21:12 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

Nice piece on Frederika Randall, an American-born translator of Italian lit.


xyzzzz__, Saturday, 25 September 2021 06:37 (one year ago) link

ten months pass...

I was compiling a list of wants (its getting small as I think I am running out of stuff I am interested in reading) and came across this. The Charles Rosen foreword caught my eye.


Also, NYRB are issuing Elsa Morante's first novel next year.


xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 26 July 2022 12:01 (six months ago) link

oh wow. I'm a huge morante fan, that's giant news for me

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Tuesday, 26 July 2022 12:04 (six months ago) link

That would mean all her novels have had at least one complete translation into English.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 26 July 2022 12:40 (six months ago) link

yeah it's a giant deal. finding a copy of arturo's island at the cincinnati public library when I did an event there was a big deal to me -- copies on alibris were prohibitively expensive & they let me take it home for later return. it's good, Aracoeli was my entry point so it'll probably always be my favorite.

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Tuesday, 26 July 2022 12:47 (six months ago) link

Though History was my first by her I think Aracoeli is my favourite, it's such a strange, one kind of a book (just ahead of Arturo, I took out the old translation from the library too. I should get the new translation)

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 26 July 2022 12:53 (six months ago) link

Important essay on Natalia Ginzburg's politics, and how her adoption as a feminist writer isn't a straightforward matter.

Natalia Ginzburg wrote brilliant fiction, but she was also deeply involved in Italian left-wing politics. From abortion to adoption laws, and feminism to her conception of her Jewish identity – I wrote about her politics for @VersoBooks https://t.co/7ll6DzOaHb pic.twitter.com/67e7driLcs

— Francesca Peacock (@cesca_peacock) July 28, 2022

xyzzzz__, Sunday, 31 July 2022 11:03 (six months ago) link

I read Voices in the Evening last year and immediately bought everything of hers I could get my hands on, she's amazing

J Edgar Noothgrush (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Sunday, 31 July 2022 14:13 (six months ago) link

Yes, I remember hearing about her through my love for Pavese, checking her out - got everything out of the library that I could and delighted that this revival has taken hold. It doesn't matter that Ginzburg and Morante are being marketed in a post-Ferrante world, its great to see.

I also would like to see a similar piece written on Sciasca's political career.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 6 August 2022 11:30 (six months ago) link

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