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Cesare Pavese and America

Life, Love, and Literature

Lawrence G. Smith

Publication Year: 2008

When he committed suicide at age forty-one, Cesare Pavese (1908–1950) was one of Italy’s best-known writers. A poet, novelist, literary critic, and translator, he had been profoundly influenced in his early years by American literature. But later he grew disaffected with American culture, coming to see it as materialistic and shallow. This book, the first full-length English-language study of Pavese in twenty years, examines his life and the evolution of his views of America through a chronological reading of his works.

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Dedication

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Table of Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

During my journey from the idea to the realization of this book, I have depended greatly on the kindness of friends as well as of strangers, many of whom have become friends. First among the former I must acknowledge Shaun O’Connell, whose bond of friendship did not prevent him from sharply critiquing the early drafts, much to my ...

Abbreviations

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pp. xiii-xiv

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“Introducing Cesare Pavese”

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pp. 1-14

That is the title Leslie Fiedler gave his 1954 essay on Pavese, an essay which in 2001 the Italian editors of a collection of pieces on Pavese translated and included because “Fiedler saw beyond all Italian criticism of the time; he succeeded . . . in digging deeply, writing truly illuminating pages well ahead of their time.”1 Fiedler described Pavese ...

Part I

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One. The End Game: Connie and Cesare

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pp. 17-35

In his diary entry for January 14, 1950, Cesare Pavese, sitting in Turin, noted, “Thinking back on the Dowling sisters, I know I lost a great chance to fool around.”1 He was referring to Constance and Doris Dowling, two American actresses who had come to Rome to try their luck in the dynamically expanding postwar Italian movie industry. ...

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Two. Family and Friends

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pp. 35-56

To chart the beginning of Pavese’s life we must move from the center of Turin, where he ended it, about sixty miles southeast to a region of undulating hills called Le Langhe, in the midst of which lies the nine-square-mile municipality of Santo Stefano Belbo. An unremarkable agricultural town of about four thousand inhabitants at the edge ...

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Three. Tina

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pp. 57-85

Battistina Pizzardo was first introduced to the literary world as a series of editorial asterisks in Pavese’s published letters and the early editions of his diary; then as “the woman with the hoarse voice” to readers of the earliest biography of Pavese.1 Pavese and all her other friends called her Tina.2 Like Pavese, she came from a middle-class ...

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Four. Einaudi, Fernanda, and World War II

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pp. 86-106

Between 1930 and 1936 the major part of Pavese’s creative energies went into translations, critical essays, and poetry, while beginning with 1936 his efforts went mainly into short stories, novels, and editing. He did continue to translate to support himself. He translated four books in 1937, all of which were published in 1938: John Dos ...

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Five. Liberation?

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pp. 107-132

For many Italians, particularly those on the political left, the immediate postwar days and months carried great hope. They felt that the blood shed in the civil war surely would lead not only to peace, but to a renewal and reordering of Italian society. Intellectuals were to play a leading role in bringing about a more just and equitable society, a ...

Part II

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Six. “Viva Walt Whitman”

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pp. 135-168

Cesare Pavese never lived in or visited America; indeed, though he grew up seventy miles from Switzerland and fifty miles from the French border he never set foot outside Italy. The Italian liceo curriculum in the 1920s included neither English as a foreign language nor American literature in translation. Yet before he graduated from ...

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Seven. “The peach of the world”

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pp. 169-214

After finishing his thesis, Pavese published between 1930 and 1934 ten essays on American writers, wrote four reviews of books relating to America, translated four American novels, including Moby-Dick, and added prefaces to two of these and an avvertenza (notice to readers) to a third.1 (In 1934 he also translated James Joyce’s Portrait of the ...

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Eight. “Storia passata”

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pp. 215-248

In the July–August 1933 issue of La Cultura Pavese published his Faulkner in April 1934. The Whitman essay carried forward the same enthusiastic, warm appreciation of Whitman and of American culture that characterized all of Pavese’s writings about America beginning a decade earlier in the liceo. One has to search hard and gener ...

Notes

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pp. 249-278

Suggested Reading

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pp. 279-282

Illustration Source Credits

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pp. 283-284

Index

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pp. 285-303

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781613761632
E-ISBN-10: 1613761635
Print-ISBN-13: 9781558496736
Print-ISBN-10: 1558496734

Page Count: 356
Illustrations: 47
Publication Year: 2008

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Subject Headings

  • Pavese, Cesare -- Knowledge -- America.
  • Authors, Italian -- 20th century -- Biography.
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