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Lessico famigliare

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  4,839 ratings  ·  331 reviews
Lessico famigliare è la storia di una famiglia ebrea, quella della stessa scrittrice, che si svolge a Torino fra gli anni Trenta e Cinquanta. Natalia, l'ultima dei cinque figli Levi, è la voce narrante. Con assoluto rispetto della verità, e, per certi versi, mantenendo l'incanto della fanciullezza, l'autrice non solo ripercorre con la memoria le vicende dei suoi cari, ma ...more
Paperback, Einaudi Tascabili. Letteratura #629, 261 pages
Published 1999 by Einaudi (first published 1963)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Lessico famigliare = Family sayings, Natalia Ginzburg
Family Sayings, is a novel by the Italian author Natalia Ginzburg, first published in 1963. It is a semi-biographical description of aspects of the daily life of her family, dominated by her father, the renowned histologist, Giuseppe Levi. The book is both an ironic and affectionate chronicle of life in the period 1920-1950, portrayed in terms of habits, behavior and, above all, linguistic communications, from which the book takes its title.
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this book, the way Natalia Ginzburg tells with much humor and affection, about the slightly dysfunctional family in wich she grew up. There is a good pace in the telling; wich shows the enthusiasm with which it was probably written and makes you now read it.
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: italian
AKA: Family Sayings, לקסיקון משפחתי.
Long after I've finished it, it still lingers with me. The author tells about her family through their particular lexicon that's formed along the years through anecdotes, stories, reactions and weird expressions. In the beginning it's amusing, and then, the second world war starts, and although she keeps using a light tone, the occurrences start weighing with their seriousness: persecution, illness, jail, deaths.
She has an expression her mother uses: "she
A magnificent Italian family chronicle covering some war time periods as historical background. Her friendship with Cesare Pavese is also mentioned in this book.

4* Family Lexicon
TR Voices in the Evening
Jul 22, 2019 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated, 2019
This is not bad, I'm just not in the mood for it right now. I will likely return to this another time in the future.
One of my favorite books. A memoir of Ginzburg's family life in the pre-WW2 period in Italy centered around the phrases, jokes and laments that the family and their friends repeated to each other. Her father, a Jew and a scientist, and her mother, a Catholic optimist (both atheists) emerge as extraordinarily memorable characters.

I first read this in my early 20s, and certain scenes stuck with me incredibly well - Ginzburg's dad bellowing at the five children (this is also one of my mom's
Anna Luce
4.5 stars (rounded up to 5 because I listened to the audiobook)

side note: the cover for the English edition of this book is beautiful.

Moving onto the review...
From the first page I was drawn by Natalia Ginzburg's incredibly vivid prose. The title of this memoir encapsulates much of Ginzburg's recollection of her family. She remembers in minute detail the way in which within her family certain words and phrases had a particular significance or meaning, one that is known only by a small group of
Liina Bachmann
Apr 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
A weakish three. "Little Virtues" by Natalia Ginzburg was one of my favourite reads last year so I, of course, had high hopes for "Family Lexicon" Unfortunately it was very fragmented and jumpy. Talking about everything but not in depth about anything. I can see why this is highly ranked but I don't have much passion for books written in this sort of style where every person who the family interacts becomes a character on its own. To be able to pull that off those brief sketches of characters ...more
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
By the 40% mark, I was so bored with the cartoonish father—his inane, impotent outbursts on every goddamned page—and the entire mundanely eccentric family that I put the book down. Jackass that I am.
Oct 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
Family Sayings is Ginzburg's vivid memories of what she could recall of her childhood. These sayings passed from Family to Friends and repeated throughout her life.
If you remember as a child that giant slide that took you forever to climb but than as an adult? This is why I think it is called somewhat fictional.

Her father, Levi a Biology Professor and a domesticated ruler. Her mother not a main figure of the family had a warm heart and she had interest in poems and other art forms. Many other
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics
3.5 rounded up
Mac Gushanas
Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
Shejanul Islam
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before Elena Ferrante, there was Natalia Ginzburg. Beautiful book about family, friendship, and tragedy.
maybe it was the particular translation but i waited in vain to love this and all i felt was what an "ass" beppino was!
Yoav Daube
Jul 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
I didnt like it. Was real boring.

This book is completely astonishing, not only for the sense of family and history that the memoir contains, but for the way it does so. The time was tragic. Natalia’s husband is imprisoned, tortured and killed by the Nazis just before the end of World War II. She doesn’t talk about this except in an aside.

Natalia wrote a “Warning” for the original Italian edition in which she indicated that she was not much interested in writing about herself. She writes about her family’s lexicon. The
Justin Evans
Apr 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Something has surely been lost in the translation: this is a nice idea, and I can see the appeal, intellectually. But I also found it painfully dull to read, and really only finished it to find out if there was a single interesting person in post-war Italy who was not a friend of Ginzburg and her family. The answer appears to be, no.
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic Ginzburg. Sparse and cutting language that quickly gets to the heart of the matter without losing humor. Intimate daily family life and relations during a difficult time. Although categorized as fiction, Ginzburg identifies it as true.
Myra Leysorek
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this memoir. It's inspired by phrases often repeated in her family, a great way to approach memories, and it often very funny, but it encompasses on a personal, local level Italian history under fascism. This is the second published translation. I'm looking forward to reading the most recent translation, called Family Lexicon. (The first translation was Family Sayings.).
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Italian family life (non-fiction) between the wars, but Jewish and leftie so increasingly under threat as Mussolini comes to power. The anti-fascist stuff is fascinating - normal in her family, her father emerging as the main character in a wealth of strong characters, boyfriends, brothers, relations and also writers and publishers hanging about the house,seeking refuge during the persecutions. He is problematic though as a hero - he's irascible, tempremental, judgmental and uses racist ...more
James Murphy
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished by liking this and happily returning to it each day, though in some ways it was a tough read. Early on I considered more than once not finishing it. At the same time I recognize that, having completed it, it's a kind of page-turner. Most of my struggles with the book had to do with keeping straight the multitude of people who have a part in it. Family Lexicon is a memoir of Ginzburg's family, and she came from a large one. So the book quickly becomes a heavy tapestry thickly woven ...more
Bhaskar Thakuria
At the very inception the writer sets out clearly what the book comprises of:

'THE PLACES, events, and people in this book are real. I haven’t invented a thing, and each time I found myself slipping into my long-held habits as a novelist and made something up, I was quickly compelled to destroy the invention.
The names are also real. In the writing of this book I felt such a profound intolerance for any fiction, I couldn’t bring myself to change the real names which seemed to me indissoluble from
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was reminded again and again of the stories, the quips, the inside jokes, which give each family their special, poignant histories, their meaning.
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about the ways Ginzburg and her family talked growing up, highlighting and explaining the shorthand phrases that are co-opted into the shared vocabulary of a family. This simple concept is so unbelievably fruitful, as the phrases the (some of my favorites include her father dismissing innumerable things as 'nitwitteries,' or the shared joke among their family of saying 'lend me your gear,' rather than ear). These phrases have obscure origins - a childhood friend of her mother's ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
An unusually structured autobiography, as author Ginzburg recalls her life in Turin through the medium of 'family sayings' - the often-repeated jokes, rhymes, anecdotes and expostulations by her irrascible father, plaintive mother and her siblings, friends and relatives. Against these personalities, brought so vividly to life through their comments and conversations, we experience the threat of life as Fascists rise to power - imprisonments of the decidedly Left-leaning family and the death of ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has been on the shelves in my house since my family first moved to Italy. It was one of the first books in Italian my dad bought after it being recommended as a fairly easy book for foreigners, I decided to pick it up 6 years later. I wouldn't say it was an easy book for me to follow, many of the expressions used come from different dialects and "ways" of speaking used in different regions. These expressions are also specific to the Levi family and have been chosen to illustrate the ...more
I was interested to read this after a recommendation from an Italian professor. It is a curious combination of memoir and fiction -as the author writes in a note.

I honestly struggled to finish it, although after reading more about Natalia Ginzburg and her remarkable life I am considering rereading it. I would read her other works which have been reissued.

There is also fascinating article about her in the New Yorker. I recommend it.
Jennifer S
Very slow memoir of a family growing up in Italy in the 1920's-1930's. Random stories about most of the family members and their friends (and surprisingly almost nothing about the author's own personal life). Perhaps would have been more enjoyable if I had been a student of the political scene in Italy during the first half of the 20th century. Most memorable were the casual remarks that became part of the family's lore and childhood memories.
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before there was Elsa Ferrante, Natalia Ginzburg ruled the Italian novel/memoir scene.
They share a (to me) boring fixation on Italian politics, but both are sharp observers of family dynamics, language and quirks. Beppino, the father here, is a charming monster, shouting "nitwittery!" at anything he disapproves of - whihc is pretty much everyone and everything.
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Italian novelist, essayist, translator and playwright, who has written of her unconventional family and its opposition in Turin to Fascist oppression. Ginzburg's novels are a mixture of reminiscence, observation, and invention. Her novel Lessico famigliare (Family sayings) won the Strega Prize in 1963. Much of her fiction is written in the first person in a plain style, and constructed almost ...more
“Noi siamo cinque fratelli. Abitiamo in città diverse, alcuni di noi stanno all'estero: e non ci scriviamo spesso. Quando c'incontriamo, possiamo essere, l'uno con l'altro, indifferenti o distratti. Ma basta, fra noi, una parola. Basta una parola, una frase: una di quelle frasi antiche, sentite e ripetute infinite volte, nel tempo della nostra infanzia. [...] Quelle frasi sono il nostro latino, il vocabolario dei nostri giorni andati, sono come i geroglifici egiziani o degli assiro-babilonesi, la testimonianza d'un nucleo vitale che ha cessato di esistere, ma che sopravvive nei suoi testi, salvati dalla furia delle acque, dalla corrosione del tempo. Quelle frasi sono il fondamento della nostra unità familiare, che sussisterà finché saremo al mondo, ricreandosi e risuscitando nei punti più diversi della terra.” 16 likes
“Vivevano così, in stretta amicizia, dividendosi il poco che avevano, e senza appoggiarsi a nessun gruppo, senza fare progetti per il futuro, perché non c’era nessun futuro possibile; probabilmente sarebbe scoppiata la guerra, e l’avrebbero vinta gli stupidi; perché gli stupidi, Mario diceva, vincevano sempre.” 1 likes
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