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The Wine-Dark Sea
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The Wine-Dark Sea

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  261 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Leonardo Sciascia was an outstanding and controversial presence in twentieth-century Italian literary and intellectual life. Writing about his native Sicily and its culture of secrecy and suspicion, Sciascia matched sympathy with skepticism, unflinching intelligence with a streetfighter's intransigent poise. Sciascia was particularly admired for his short stories, and The ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 31st 2000 by NYRB Classics (first published 1973)
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The first half of this book of stories I found flat and not up to Sciascia's usual rich level of storytelling. But then halfway through, starting with the tale "Demotion," I felt the stories begin to deepen. By the time I got to "End Game," p. 121, I was without question back in the master's hands. This seems to me an anomaly in Sciascia's otherwise unusually consistent oeuvre. I'd like to know if the translation is at fault. I don't have a word of Italian, but a couple examples of English phras ...more
Il mare colore del vino” è lo splendido mare della Sicilia, che al tramonto si tinge di colori dorati grazie ai raggi del sole che vi si riflettono: è un mare che “non ubriaca: si impadronisce dei pensieri, suscita antica saggezza”, quella saggezza che la terra di Sicilia sembra aver assorbito dai tanti popoli che l’hanno calpestata e ne hanno solcato i mari, e che si trasmette quasi passasse nel DNA dei suoi abitanti, come il piccolo e sveglio Nenè del racconto che dà il titolo al libro. Alcuni ...more
Reading the late Sicilian writer Antonio Sciascia while traveling in Sicily recently was a good decision. So much that he writes about seems to have real currency, at least to this fairly superficial traveler with far too little Italian. The striking landscape (and wine-dark sea, at least as seen from Taormina) has not changed, nor has the corrupting power of the mafia, which just extracts and doesn't develop, or the almost imploring look of residents there who want to know if you are impressed ...more
The Sicilian language has no future tense. Nostalgia for La Cosa Nostra is not strictly an American phenomenon. Aleister Crowley lived in Sicily for a while before WWII, and Mussolini had him deported. Or that one Sciascia might have just made up. There was one story in there that reminded me a lot of Lucio Fulci's "Don't Torture a Duckling."

Emily Cleaver
The best story in this collection, and one I would now add to my top 20 favourite short stories, is A Matter of Conscience – a lawyer travelling on a train picks up a woman’s magazine and reads the problem page, where he sees a letter from a woman in his own town admitting to having an affair. The letter sends the men of the town into a frenzy of gossip and suspicion as they try to guess whose wife wrote the letter. The story is funny, but the ending is strange, unsettling and heart-wrenching.

The Wine Dark Sea is a collection of Leonardo Sciasia’s best short stories. Sciasia, a Sicilian author who lived from 1921 to 1989, has a writing style that is much more accessible than that of many of his contemporaries such as Umberto Eco or Dino Buzzati. The bulk of these stories were written in the 1960s, and each eloquently speaks to an aspect of the Sicilian way of life and history, such as distrust for outsiders, the Mafia culture, Catholicism, Communism, and the desperation of poverty. S ...more
Sciascia's texts waver in the full light of day-- are they really fiction at all? are they true, except for this point, or that one? Cause for celebration, it seems to me.

His prose is a perfect match for this sense of the perhaps-true: a Gordian knot with sword provided, it is easy to speed through, but rushed at the expense of meaning. Relationships are revealed between the lines, but also in lines waiting to be reread in the light of some further information (which Sciascia may or may not pro
Tyler Jones
It would be easy to mistake Sciscia as a cynic. In many of his novels the innocent of heart and mind are dealt with rather brutally by the corrupt forces that run things, but read a little deeper and you'll find a warm, loving heart beating below the surface of the cynicism. I find, in this collection of short works, a truer picture of what Sciscia was all about than the brutality of his novels would suggest. The title story of this collection, for example, is one of the most graceful pieces of ...more
Procyon Lotor
Mediamente buoni, qualcuno da fuoriscala. Solita classe, molto scialo: oggi con idee ben inferiori tirerebbero fuori da ognuna un romanzo, lui ne fa raccontini acuminati o balsamici. 1) Reversibilit�. 2) Il lungo viaggio. 3) Il mare colore del vino. 4) L'esame. 5) Giuf�. 6) La rimozione. 7) Filologia. 8) Gioco di societ�. 9) Un caso di coscienza. 10) Apocrifi sul caso Crowley. 11) Western di cose nostre. 12) Processo per violenza. 13) Eufrosina. Colonna sonora: vari rumori aeronautici.
Really enjoying this collection of short stories by Sicilian writer Sciascia. This was given to me as a present about four years ago by a friend, but I only picked it up over the summer. To every book there is a season. Or something.

Anyway, have been picking it up at regular intervals on the commute into work and am always glad I have. Apparently a graduate of the Italian Realist school - no, I know nothing about this either - the stories conjure up Sicily, the South, rich with character. Prope
Stef Smulders
There are some very nice farsical stories in this collection, folktale like, anecdotical, told with utter pleasure. Worth reading!
Aaron Kent
A very satisfying collection of stories. Also, NYRB classics seems to me to be an imprint you can't go wrong with.
Lindsey Vereen
These vivid and slyly humorous short stories are set in Sicily over the past 150 years. They examine Sicilian culture and point out the peccadilloes of the Sicilian people. The stories are about murder, infidelity, and human failings. The Mafia figures in many of them though not in the way we ordinarily encounter the Mafia in literature. These are not stories about gangsters, but about people living in poor communities in which the Mafia, along with the Church and the government are part of the ...more
May 15, 2008 Christine rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those itching to travel to Sicily, ma c'impossible...
It went by too quickly. And although the main impression of his short stories are that they're just far too short, I loved the glimpses into Sicily. The title story, "The Wine Dark Sea" about a train voyage was especially charming... the characters felt all too familiar and very real.
I hope to read this again sometime.
Jul 30, 2011 Susan added it
I tell students that I really like stories that have a surprising twist at the end. And these surely do! Set in Sicily, these short stories were perfect reading during my travels in Sicily, offering lots of surprises! Sophisticated and down to earth at the same time.
A collection of nearly-perfect short stories. Very Italian. Very Sicilian. Not one unnecessary word. A few of the latter ones were a bit too weird (or I was a bit too tired), but on the whole very well-balanced and excellent.
I really enjoyed these short stories. The traditional culture behind the mafia. If you've ever been to the south of Italy and it's people, it will make a lot more sense.

Not very interesting. I think it's because I actually don't like the short story as a farm, so I couldn't really get much out of this collection.
Some may call it cynicism, but there is truth to these stories. Note that of all Italian dialects, the Sicilian has no future tense.
It's an uneven collection -- some I really enjoyed, others were just plain weird. An interesting look at Sicily, though.
I liked this a lot when I read it, left some type of resonating feeling. I should try him again.
Intriguing insights into the Sicilian ethos. This book helped me understand my family.
Rafet Baran
öykülerdeki tekniğin etkileyiciliğinin yanında italya'ya bi daha gitme isteğim canlandı.
Stories about/from Sicily! Good writing.
Very well-written; wonderful imagery.
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NYRB Classics: The Wine-Dark Sea, by Leonardo Sciascia 1 4 Oct 30, 2013 10:38PM  
  • My Fantoms
  • That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana
  • Adventures of Sindbad
  • Una questione privata
  • The New York Stories of Edith Wharton
  • The Stories of J.F. Powers
  • Kaputt
  • The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories
  • White Walls: Collected Stories
  • The New York Stories
  • Gli occhiali d'oro: Il romanzo di Ferrara
  • A Schoolboy's Diary and Other Stories
  • Little Novels of Sicily
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot
  • Peasants and Other Stories
  • Love in a Fallen City
  • Conversations in Sicily
  • Conquered City
Leonardo Sciascia wrote of his unique Sicilian experience, linking families with political parties, the treachery of alliances and allegiances and the calling of favours that resort in outcomes that are not for the benefit of society, but of those individuals who are in favour.
Sciascia perhaps, in the end, wanted to prove that the corruption that was and is endemic in Italian society helps only t
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“…And the sound of the sea, like the wild-animal breath of the world itself, frightened them as it gasped and died at their feet.” 1 likes
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