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The Selected Works

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  94 Ratings  ·  12 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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Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I remembered Pavese with great fondness from my youth as someone who captured inarticulate peasants with compassion, somewhat like Grazia Deledda or Giovanni Verga but in the post-World War II context. Evidently, I was actually reading someone else. This volume is made up of fournovellas or novels centered around Turin and the countryside around it, not far from the Italian Riviera. The narrators are both articulate and stricken by ennui. With one exception, they are concerned with entertaining ...more
Robert Wechsler
Feb 19, 2014 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 07, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: italian
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
Nov 09, 2009 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.
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
I liked all four novellas, but the two middle ones- 'The House on the Hill' and 'Among Women Only'- were my favorites. quotes:

'The House on the Hill'

It was summer and I remembered other evenings when I was sleeping in the city, evenings when I also came back down late at night, singing or laughing, when thousands of lights outlined the hill or the city at the end of the road. The city was a lake of light. We were living in the city then. We didn't realize how short a time we had. Friendships and
Isla McKetta
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 27, 2014 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.
Jun 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The House on the Hill is really beautiful and atmospheric.
Mar 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: italian
*** 1/2
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NYRB Classics: The Selected Works of Cesare Pavese 1 4 Oct 30, 2013 12:52PM  
  • The Wine-Dark Sea
  • Kaputt
  • The Conformist
  • The Family Mashber
  • The Professor and the Siren
  • Blood on the Forge
  • That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana
  • Berlin Stories
  • The Iguana
  • The Snows of Yesteryear
  • It's Getting Later All the Time
  • Sheppard Lee, Written by Himself
  • The New York Stories of Edith Wharton
  • The World as I Found It
  • White Walls: Collected Stories
  • Manservant and Maidservant
  • The Mountain Lion
  • The Book of My Life
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
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