Cesare Pavese

Cesare Pavese is widely regarded as one of the foremost men of letters in twentieth-century Italian cultural history, and in particular as an emblematic figure: an earnest writer maimed by fascism and struggling with the modern existentialist dilemma of alienated meaning. Little known in the United States, Pavese was profoundly influenced by American literature, and, when official censorship closed his mouth, he would use his position as a translator and editor indirectly to bring into Italy messages of freedom and new ideas from English-language authors. Most Italians first encountered Herman Melville, James Joyce, William Faulkner, Charles Dickens, Gertrude Stein, John Steinbeck, John Dos Passos, and Daniel Defoe in Pavese’s translations, and also encountered their influence, and echoes of their meditations, in Pavese’s own highly accomplished body of novels, short stories, and poems.

You can read more here

And you can rfead a selection of Pavese’s poems here.  You could do worse than start with ‘The Country Whore‘.

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And here are some extracts from The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950”Living is like working out a long addition sum, and if you make a mistake in the first two totals you will never find the right answer. It means involving oneself in a complicated chain of circumstances.”

”Living is like working out a long addition sum, and if you make a mistake in the first two totals you will never find the right answer. It means involving oneself in a complicated chain of circumstances.” May 5, 1936

‘Literature is a defense against the attacks of life. It says to life’.  May 5, 1936

”Will power is only the tensile strength of one’s own disposition. One cannot increase it by a single ounce’  Jan. 15, 1938

‘Life is pain and the enjoyment of love is an anesthetic.’ January 19, 1938

‘Love is the cheapest of religions.’ December 21, 1939

‘Perfect behavior is born of complete indifference.’ February 21, 1940

‘If it were possible to have a life absolutely free from every feeling of sin, what a terrifying vacuum it would be!’ March 17, 1940

‘Artists are the monks of the bourgeois state.’ July 25, 1940

‘The richness of life lies in memories we have forgotten.’ , Feb. 13, 1944.

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