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3.68  ·  Rating details ·  297 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Questa nota era parte della risposta a un'inchiesta Sull'erotismo in letteratura promossa dalla rivista Nuovi Argomenti nel 1961. Qualche anno prima Umberto Saba aveva letto ad alta voce ad Elsa Morante il suo romanzo Ernesto che andava allora componendo. Essa ebbe poi modo di rileggerne il manoscritto, grazie all'amicizia di Linuccia, figlia del poeta. Ho letto, di recent ...more
Hardcover, 166 pages
Published January 1st 1987 by Carcanet Press (first published 1975)
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
NYRB describes this as a "classic of gay literature," just now available translated into English. It is said to be possibly autobiographical, but readers coming to it expecting a simple narrative will be surprised. The author never finished the book. The translator includes helpful information at the beginning and end of the content to help situate the reader - there is even one letter from the author inserted at a point in the writing where he couldn't decide which direction to go or if he even ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it, translation
Bought at the NYRB 50% off sale
Recommended by Ryan

This is a very slight (100 page) unfinished Italian novel. I skipped the intro so knew absolutely nothing going in. I loved the writing! Someone (the narrator) is telling us the long ago story of a boy (Ernesto) and "the man". There are a lot of parentheses, (multiple per page ;-) After awhile I looked forward to the next comment that was (in parentheses). It is very conversational and almost comforting to read, if that makes any sense (okay, I c
herschel Stratego
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Very well written and translated from the Italian. It is full of chapter to chapter quantum parallels! it's very moving, very humourous, very sexual, very apathetic, very moralistic, very considerate of people, very optimistic and very short. it's just a wonderful attempt...and it strikes gold--this book. go read'll be hard to find, but easy to love.
Vittorio Ducoli
Dec 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compiuto incompiuto

Ernesto è romanzo incompiuto, ma forse proprio qui sta la sua forza.
Quei primi tre capitoli spiegano tutto: la grazia di Ernesto, il suo “voler provare” la vita, senza infingimenti, la sua brama di essere e di sapere. Non ha alcuna importanza non sapere cosa sarà della vita futura di Ernesto, cosa gli succederà dopo l'iniziazione raccontata da Saba. Sappiamo che non sarà un grande concertista, che non lavorerà più come impiegato, ma ciò che conta sono quei primi tre capitoli,
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful but unfinished novel. Extreme pain at the thought of what "might have been" had Saba been able to finish. That said, what is here is gorgeous enough. The translation is near flawless, resulting in a captivating and charming--and quintessentially Italian--coming of age tale. Strongly recommend.
Mar 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5, rounded down. While not quite the 'classic of gay literature' the publisher would lead you to believe, this short, quick autobiographical book is nevertheless an interesting view of adolescent sexuality at the turn of the 19th Century. Although the author abandoned plans for a lengthier work, it doesn't really matter that it is 'unfinished', as it DOES more or less come to a satisfying conclusion. The translation reads a bit stilted at times, but a note from the translator indicates that no ...more
Valutazione: 3.5 stelle
A scuola abbiamo toccato Saba superficialmente e ammettiamolo: è difficile accattivarsi l'attenzione di un'adolescente presentando esclusivamente la poesia "La capra". Capirete quindi che sono rimasta sorpresa nel sapere che, tra le altre cose, ha scritto anche questa storia, tra il racconto di formazione e quello erotico.
Ernesto è un giovanotto, quasi maggiorenne, senza padre, che lavora come impiegato presso una ditta di commercio. Lì conosce ed ha una storia con uno dei
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book wasn’t bad but at the same time it was unremarkable. Although the gay relationship detailed in the first part of the book would certainly have been considered scandalous at the time of writing (1953) and even of publication (1975), the author does not delve in any way into this relationship and perhaps it is laudable in that it doesn’t seem to condemn it either. However, this removed the reason for which I had decided to read, as an example of an early gay novel. Similarly, the rest of ...more
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cosa c'è di più simbolico per una storia di educazione sentimentale di un romanzo incompiuto?
Grande, grande scrittura, grande viaggio nell'animo umano e negli sterminati campi della giovinezza. Peccato davvero che si interrompe sul più bello.
E peccato anche per tutto quel dialetto. Ero tentato di spezzare la poesia ricorrendo sfacciatamente a Google Translator.
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fiction - Novella, Italy, LGBTQ. NYRB Trade Paperback. Found browsing online. Unfinished work.
Un testo fondamentale della letteratura gay italiana.
Ovviamente, raramente menzionato quando si incontra Saba durante le scuole dell'obbligo.
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More a novella than a novel, and actually never finished, Ernesto probably ranks as one of the most delightful, fresh, and honest coming of age stories and tales of sexual awakening ever written. As Umberto Saba looks back at his childhood in Trieste at the end of the XIX century, he magically recaptures, through the character of the 16-year-old Ernesto, the complexities, contradictions, and wonders of what it means to be a teenager, to discover the realm of desire, and to open up to the world o ...more
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting gay-themed novella, begun in the 1950s but left unpublished at the author's death and not published in Italian until 1975. It's a short book (my Italian copy is only about 120 pages, plus an introduction and various appendices) and because of its unfinished nature, not entirely satisfying, but still a good read. (Somewhat unusually for an unfinished book, the author wrote a one-page "Almost Conclusion", included in this edition, in which he laments that he has become too old and t ...more
Jimbo Pantas
If you chance upon Ernesto on Wikipedia and read its synopsis, and if you have read or watched Call Me by Your Name, you would no doubt suspect that Aciman had plagiarized Saba. Or am I just projecting? Probably yes. Shamefully, this was my first thought. The parallels are there, but upon reading both novels one is likely to say that they, although with astounding similarities, are different stories--as I did. (Besides, appropriation is not exactly a modern thing. It's ancient.)

Ernesto is a str
This is a curious little book. First of all, Saba never finished it and it was unpublished in his lifetime. Secondly, NYRB is billing it as a "classic of gay literature" but I'm not convinced it deserves that title. Although Ernesto engages in homosexual acts, he doesn't seem to self-identify as gay, and the queer content is merely a short-lived subplot. Perhaps that would have changed if Saba had a chance to complete the novel, since there are some hints of homoeroticism in the friendship he st ...more
Dale Boyer
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of this book OR this author (Umberto Saba), and discovered it while looking around for Italian authors to read in advance of a trip to Italy. As the New York Review of Books correctly points out, it is an absolute classic of gay literature. However, the freshness of it's perceptions and the charm of its writing make it an appealing book for ANYONE interested in reading about the first pangs of sexual awakening. It's very slight and actually unfinished, but even in its truncated ...more
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as part of a course in Italian authors writing with Trieste, Italy as the setting. I’m very intrigued by Trieste and after a short visit am drawn to learn more.
The book, which is billed as a classic of gay literature, is a tender book and autobiographical story of a young man’s sexual awakening. Saba, who wrote this late in his life, is celebrated as one of Italy’s primo poets.
The setting does play a part with Ernesto working at the docks. It’s not a must read, but I’m glad to
Christopher McQuain
***1/2 -- More a fascinating sketch of something that could have been than a fully invested work. The uncompleted/"lost" status of this not-entirely-formed assay at an undefined fiction project is explicit, and this edition contains useful supplements that fold the story/novella/would-be novel into a context that adds historical and cultural illumination to something the opacity of which is often tantalizing but also at times awkward or desultory.
Mar 29, 2018 rated it liked it
minus one star for the idea that boys without male role models become gay. and minus one star for the idea that being homosexual is a phase.

"Remorse is the erroneous view of a distant event; one remembers the act and forgets the feelings that evoked it, the feverish feelings that made it inevitable."

Apr 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Definitely minor and incomplete story about a boy's sexual coming of age in late 19th Century Trieste..It was entertaining and the unapologetic gay sex was quite eye opening...I would recommend to people who are interested in pre Stonewall LGTB literature but this is by no means a classic
C.M. Crockford
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, lgbtqia
Saba never finished the book but maybe that's for the better - the book feels like a snapshot of a young boy, not a story meant to be read in its totality. Some lovely prose from a poet looking back on a piece of his life - a portrait of the artist as a queer, impetuous boy.
Patrick Frownfelter
Incredible book. Very heartfelt and honest. Definitely a cornerstone of LGBTQ lit.
Ben Smith
An interesting fragment of an unfinished novel. Very much of its time as a queer novel that's largely wish fulfilment for a repressed author.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Quite boring. Apparently the author was a great Italian poet, and it is apparently autobiographical, but I saw nothing here of any interest.
Sep 01, 2018 rated it liked it
L'incontro tra Ilio ed Ernesto vale tutto il libro. Un sogno.
Kevin Adams
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a little gem of a novel. Umberto Saba (age 70 when he wrote this) has written one of the more tender and subtle novels about a young boy (16 going on 17-year-old) finding his sexuality. That a 70 year old can write so eloquently about such a topic is amazing. It takes place in Trieste at the end of the 19th century. Saba wrote this in 1953 and was finally released by his daughter in 1975 by (and now by NYRB). The introduction, Saba's notes and the History of Ernesto portions at the end of t ...more
Daniel Gamboa
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Questo breve romanzo è un piccolo gioello. Molto provocante, ma mai volgare, sebbene sia incompiuto, per me ha un bel e soddisfacente "finale". Inoltre, benché i dialoghi siano in triestino, non ho fatto fatica a capirli, e poi la narrazione è tutta in italiano. Insomma, è un romanzo da leggere.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Martin Allen
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this story. Beautifully written and even the two very short sex scenes were handled in a way that was neither overly pornographic nor cheesy 50 Shades of Grey style. It's the tale of an adolescent boy who is struggling with that bridge of leaving childhood and entering adulthood. Being semi-autobiographical, Saba creates a main character of such vivid colour who fluctuates between adolescent bravado, child-like naivety, teenage impetuosity and even callous emotional control of an ...more
Ernesto è un piccolo gioello. Me lo sono ritrovata davanti per caso, in libreria; non sapevo che Saba avesse scritto romanzi, ma avevo apprezzato le sue poesie a scuola e quindi ho subito voluto sapere di che cosa si trattasse. Ebbene, non credo di esagerare nel dire che si tratta di un'opera incredibilmente originale e insolita, soprattutto per quanto riguarda la produzione letteraria del Novecento italiano. In quale altro autore ritroviamo una relazione omosessuale narrata in modo così sorpren ...more
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NYRB Classics: Ernesto, by Umberto Saba 3 32 Jan 18, 2017 07:38PM  
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“«È ora che ti faccia accorciare i capelli» disse una mattina ad Ernesto sua madre. « Cosí non ti voglio piú vedere. Prima di pranzo, passa da Bernardo. Eccoti i soldi».
Bernardo era un barbiere che aveva la bottega in faccia alla casa di Ernesto.
Da piú di un mese la signora Celestina pregava Ernesto di farsi fare quella piccola operazione. Molto amante dell’ordine, non poteva vedere suo figlio andare in giro come un selvaggio”
More quotes…