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The Moon and the Bonfires by Cesare Pavese
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The Moon and the Bonfires (1950)

by Cesare Pavese

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English (10)  Italian (5)  French (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
I found Cesare Pavese's "The Moon and the Bonfire" to be too slow moving and consequently not terribly interesting. Every time I picked it up, I completely forgot what the book was about until I started reading again-- which doesn't bode all that well for the memorability of the book a year or two from now.

The book is about a poor Italian who immigrated to America, then returns to his roots and reminisces about the events of his childhood.

This is an okay work, but not something that really drew me in, unfortunately. ( )
  amerynth | Feb 3, 2018 |
This is a book in which nothing much happens, and the setting, place and time, and the characters take the forefront. Shortly after the end of World War II, the unnamed narrator returns from America to the rural farming village in Italy where he grew up. An orphan, he was raised by a poor farmer who took him in mainly for the charitable stipend he received monthly. When the narrator grew up, he made his way to America where he became moderately successful. On his return to his village, he is perceived to be fabulously wealthy.

As he revisits the people and places from the past, we learn his life story through flashbacks. In the present, he interacts with the one friend from his youth, Nuto the musician, and also befriends a boy who is the son of a poor farmer who reminds him of himself. Along the way he also learns of the betrayals and atrocities that occurred in the village during the war, and of the fates of some of the partisans fighting the fascists, although as I stated this is not primarily a book reliant on plot.

This book is considered a classic in Italy, and I can see how it has received that designation. Pavese has written other novels, and in addition was a well-respected translator of American literature into Italian. He committed suicide a few months after this book was published. I don't regret reading the book, but it's not one of my favorites, nor is it one which I would unequivocally recommend. Nevertheless, I recognized it to be well-written, and if it sounds like your thing, go for it.

3 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Jan 22, 2018 |
E non capirci niente e aver voglia di tornare da te ( )
  downisthenewup | Aug 17, 2017 |
The Moon and the Bonfires is such an evocative title, and unlike many books with a good title, this one backs up that evocative title with layers of meaning. In the town where the unnamed narrator grew up, bonfires marked many of the most important occasions. They were the center of festivals, and when the war came they were created by burning farms, and other times they were used to burn the corpses of the departed. A bonfire is tangible, giving light and warmth, but also destructive (or purifying, if you want to look at it that way). In contrast the moon is also a source of light, but always out of grasp. It's a source of light that can't hurt you, but can't keep you warm either.

In this book the narrator has returned from a journey to the moon, in a way. The narrator moved to the United States, a world away from the poor farmhands or bastards of the Italian countryside, and further than most of his town could ever imagine going, but while he was there the narrator did not feel at home. Returning to the bonfires of rural Italy he still cannot feel at home, as he does not have the connection to the soil that the rest of his hometown has. As a bastard who never discovered his parentage, and who was continually moving from house to house for the earliest years of his life, the narrator did not have a chance to create those bonds that so many of us take for granted. Returning to the town after a lifetime away illustrates to the narrator the old adage "you can't go home again" is true even when you don't really have a home.

There are many parts of this book, and Pavese's writing, that I loved. The narrator is not returning to this town to complain about his childhood, nor is he world-weary really, he just has nowhere else to go and was drawn back to this Italian town. Pavese crafts a narrator that has learned from his travels, having him comment on the first page “I’ve traveled the world enough to know that all flesh is good and all of it worth the same.” Yup, that’s true, and there’s more actual insight on that first page than you’ll find in many full books.

I also appreciated the way that Pavese hints at things but leaves them in the background, or only touches them peripherally. It’s mentioned that the narrator was part of the communist resistance when he was serving in the fascist military, and it’s hinted that the way he has made his fortune was by selling moonshine, perhaps building up a criminal network to do it. Lesser authors would choose to focus on these juicy bits of the character, but Pavese isn’t using this book to entertain the reader, he’s using it to get the reader to reflect. I like an entertaining book too, but carving out a novel for introspection strikes me as a more valuable endeavor.

So why the three stars then? That’s because the wisdom and thoughts of the narrator during the early chapters quickly gives way to stories of the narrator growing up as a farm hand in the country, and the girls he liked, and the dreams he had of escape, and sometimes some stories are thrown in about Italy during the war. All of this has been done before, and while, as I mentioned, Pavese is a good writer, his prose isn’t strong enough to elevate this subject matter. I wish he had given us more of his insights and let the narrator ramble longer without being shackled to another rural bildungsroman, and maybe written a real conclusion, but Pavese chose another path. Oh well, at least we’ll still have that magnificent title to think about. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
O Italo Calvino disse que um clássico é um livro que você relê quando lê e que você lê quando relê. Antes de ler esse livro pela primeira vez, eu já tinha ouvido falar de vários aspectos desse livro, e até mesmo lido uma interpretação, a da fogueira final como outra fogueira propiciatória à colheita.
Nada disso impediu que, em minha leitura/releitura, eu ficasse atônita pela força e poesia do livro. Pavese conta uma história de desgraça, miséria e tragédia, mas com lirismo e melancolia, a ponto de que, após a leitura, a sensação mais forte é a da beleza das palavras de Pavese. Quando pensamos em Irene, Silvia, Santina, na queima da casa do menino pobre ou no exílio do protagonista, tudo isso está marcado pela poética do escritor. ( )
2 vote JuliaBoechat | Mar 30, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (34 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pavese, Cesareprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beccaria, Gian LuigiIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Capmany, Maria AurèliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nord, MaxTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Norum, TryggveTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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for C. Ripeness is all
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I had a reason for coming back to this town, here instead of to Canelli, Barbaresco or Alba.
Quotations
If I'd owned this piece of riverbank I might well have cleared it and planted grain; but now it affected me like those rooms you rent in the city and live in for a day or for years and then when you move they stay behind, empty, dead, disposable shells.
Boys, women, the world are certainly no different. They don't carry parasols any longer, Sundays they go to the movies instead of the fair, they send their grain to the grain pool, the girls smoke - yet life is the same, and they don't know that one day they will look around and for them, too, everything will have passed.
The first thing I said when I got off the boat at Genoa among houses smashed by the war was that every house, every courtyard, every terrace had meant something to someone, and that even more than the physical ruin and the dead, you hate to think of so many years of living, so many memories wiped out like that in one night without leaving a sign. Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's better that way, better for everything to go up in a bonfire of dry grass and for people to begin again.
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Book description
Pubblicato nell'aprile del 1950 e considerato dalla critica il libro piú bello di Pavese, La luna e i falò è il suo ultimo romanzo.
Il protagonista, Anguilla, all'indomani della Liberazione torna al suo paese delle Langhe dopo molti anni trascorsi in America e, in compagnia dell'amico Nuto, ripercorre i luoghi dell'infanzia e dell'adolescenza in un viaggio nel tempo alla ricerca di antiche e sofferte radici. Storia semplice e lirica insieme, costruita come un continuo andirivieni tra il piano del passato e quello del presente, La luna e i falò recupera i temi civili della guerra partigiana, la cospirazione antifascista, la lotta di liberazione, e li lega a problematiche private, l'amicizia, la sensualità, la morte, in un intreccio drammatico che conferma la totale inappartenenza dell'individuo rispetto al mondo e il suo triste destino di solitudine.

Completano il volume la cronologia della vita e delle opere, la bibliografia ragionata e l'antologia della critica.
(piopas)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0720611199, Paperback)

The nameless narrator this, Pavese's last and greatest novel, returns to Italy from California after the Second World War. He has done well in America, but success hasn't taken the edge off his memories of childhood, when he was an orphan living at the mercy of a bitterly poor farmer. He wants to learn what happened in his native village over the long, terrible years of Fascism; perhaps, he even thinks, he will settle down. And yet as he uncovers a secret and savage history from the war-a tale of betrayal and reprisal, sex and death-he finds that the past still haunts the present.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:11 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"The nameless narrator of The Moon and the Bonfires, Cesare Pavese's last and greatest novel, returns to Italy from California after the Second World War. He has done well in America, but success hasn't taken the edge off his memories of childhood, when he was an orphan living at the mercy of a bitterly poor farmer. He wants to learn what happened in his native village over the long, terrible years of Fascism; perhaps, he even thinks, he will settle down. And yet as he uncovers a secret and savage history from the war - a tale of betrayal and reprisal, sex and death - he finds that the past still haunts the present." "The Moon and the Bonfires is a novel of intense lyricism and tragic import, a masterpiece of twentieth-century literature that has been unavailable to American readers for close to fifty years. Here it appears in a vigorous new English version by R.W. Flint, whose earlier translations of Pavese's fiction were acclaimed by Leslie Fiedler as "absolutely lucid and completely incantatory.""--Jacket.… (more)

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