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The Selected Works of Cesare Pavese

by Cesare Pavese

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The stories of this book reminded me a lot of Michelangelo Antonioni's films in that they both tend to portray a kind of "cultivated boredom" (to borrow a phrase from the book.) Rich, young Italians doing relatively nothing, discussing, enjoying travel, wine and other little bourgeois pleasures.

Where Antonioni is memorable, I don't think Pavese is apt to stick in my head. The writing is good, and carries the same attention to small detail that's also present in Antonioni, but the stories just aren't that interesting. ( )
  palaverofbirds | Mar 29, 2013 |
THE BEACH
This story is about codes of behavior between men and women--and men and men--in mid-20th century Italy. Though published in 1941 there is no sign of war in the text. We begin with the narrator lamenting the loss of his male friend Doro to marriage. This has caused a rift between them, which the narrator mends by going to Genoa, where the happy couple now live, and apologizing. They renew their friendship. Doro returns to Turin for a boisterous night, which culminates in someone discharging a firearm. Afterwards, both go to the beach where new wife Clelia awaits. The narrator, known only as the "engineer," instead of staying with them, takes a room nearby. Outside his window a large olive tree thrives amidst the cobbles. He meets Doro and Clelia almost every day on the beach. It is summer. Also there is one Guido, often referred to as "friend Guido," as if to emphasize his lack of friendliness, who is there simply for Clelia. Waiting for his moment so to speak. Guido is a rogue. He keeps a mistress nearby whom Clelia will have not have in her house. Also at the beach by chance is a former student of the engineer, Berti, who at 15 is just starting his heady days of womanizing. Berti is the pre-Guido. They are two separate points along the womanizing continuum. Doro by contrast is utterly unlike the two Guidos. He loves and trusts his wife, though they fight (off stage), and it is this fighting that the somewhat nosey narrator seems to want to clear up; not realizing the happy couple's unwillingness to revisit the matter after the heat has passed. Doro is without guile or jealousy. He paints watercolors of the sea. He denigrates his talent. The prose is sensual, replete with omissions that might have told us more. The story merits multiple readings.

THE HOUSE ON THE HILL

AMONG WOMEN ONLY

THE DEVIL IN THE HILLS
  Brasidas | Nov 19, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0940322854, Paperback)

"There is only one pleasure, that of being alive. All the rest is misery," wrote Cesare Pavese, whose short, intense life spanned the ordeals of fascism and World War II to witness the beginnings of Italy's postwar prosperity. Searchingly alert to nuances of speech, feeling, and atmosphere, and remarkably varied, his novels offer a panoramic vision, at once sensual and finely considered, of a time of tumultuous change. This volume presents readers with Pavese's major works. The Beach is a wry summertime comedy of sexual and romantic misunderstandings, while The House on the Hill is an extraordinary novel of war in which a teacher flees through a countryside that is both beautiful and convulsed with terror. Among Women Only tells of a fashion designer who enters the affluent world she has always dreamed of, only to find herself caught up in an eerie dance of destruction, and The Devil in the Hills is an engaging road novel about three young men roaming the hills in high summer who stumble on mysteries of love and death.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:44 -0400)

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