The Selected Works
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The Selected Works

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  56 ratings  ·  9 reviews
"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 fin...more
Paperback, 424 pages
Published October 31st 2001 by NYRB Classics (first published 1968)
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The Devil in the Hills
What a difference this is from the last work I read in this collection, The House on the Hill. See below. This is essentially a coming of age story. Pieretto, Oreste (!), and the unnamed narrator are spending a last summer in and around Turin before their lives intervene. One night, to beat the heat, they head for the hillside outside the city. Pieretto wants to intellectually dominate the others. His arguments have the spin of casuistry. Several consist of the most reprehe...more
Robert Wechsler
Feb 26, 2014 Robert Wechsler marked it as ongoing
Shelves: italian-lit
So far, I've read the first two novellas in this collection. The Beach (1942) didn't grab me at all, so I moved on to The House on the Hill (1949), to which I give 5 stars. Its first-person narrative by a Turin teacher grasping for certainty during a transitional period in the Second World War is characterized by short sentences, abrupt transitions and, most of all, constant anxiety. It captures a transitory wartime situation as well in a serious way as Josef Skvorecky’s The Cowards captures it...more
Nov 09, 2009 Laura marked it as to-read
Shelves: nyrb-classics
If NYRB, Susan Sontag, and Italo Calvino all tell me to read the same book, I'd be a fool not to.
Apr 29, 2014 AJ marked it as could-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: do-not-own, fiction
My criteria for not finishing a book is this: if I put it down to read another book, look upon it with dread, and avoid opening it again by reading other books instead. I finished La spiaggia, which wasn't too bad, but couldn't get through La casa in collina, and decided I didn't care to.

Maybe when my Italian is good enough, I'll try it in the original Italian. I found the English translation to be lacking; enough prepositions were incorrect that I wonder how well-translated the book is.
Isla McKetta
Of the four novellas collected here, I fell most deeply in love with The House on the Hill. The relationship between that story and early Calvino is palpable and exciting, but the story itself is better still. The Devil in the Hills is more Fitzgerald and I came to love its characters. I rated the book five stars for those two stories alone. The Beach is similar enough to Bolano's Third Reich that I've enjoyed reading them in tandem, though I don't know that I would love either in isolation. Amo...more
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 ar...more
The House on the Hill is really beautiful and atmospheric.
Italio Calvino's Mentor
*** 1/2
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NYRB Classics: The Selected Works of Cesare Pavese 1 2 Oct 30, 2013 12:52PM  
Pavese was born in a small town in which his father, an official, owned property. He attended school and later, university, in Turin. Denied an outlet for his creative powers by Fascist control of literature, Pavese translated many 20th-century U.S. writers in the 1930s and '40s: Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, John Steinbeck, John Dos Passos, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner; a 19th-cent...more
More about Cesare Pavese...
The Moon and the Bonfire La casa in collina La bella estate Il mestiere di vivere: Diario 1935-1950 Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi

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