New York Review of Books, Paperback, 9780940322851, 424pp.
Publication Date: October 2001
"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 finely considered, of a time of tumultuous change. This volume presents readers with Pavese's major works. The Beach is a wry summertime comedy of sexual and romantic misunderstandings, while The House on the Hill is an extraordinary novel of war in which a teacher flees through a countryside that is both beautiful and convulsed with terror. Among Women Only tells of a fashion designer who enters the affluent world she has always dreamed of, only to find herself caught up in an eerie dance of destruction, and The Devil in the Hills is an engaging road novel about three young men roaming the hills in high summer who stumble on mysteries of love and death.
The translation is fluent, and each work bears the distinctive Pavesean coat of arms.
Pavese’s nine short novels make up the most dense, dramatic and homogeneous narrative cycle of modern Italy, and are also…the richest in representing social ambiances, the human comedy, the chronicle of a society. But above all they are works of an extraordinary depth where one never stops finding new levels, new meanings…Each one of Pavese’s novels revolves around a hidden theme, something unsaid which is the real thing he wants to say.
— Italo Calvino
Now there can be no excuse for not reading Pavese, one of the few essential novelists of the mid-twentieth century. The new translations and the introduction by R.W. Flint are admirable.
— Susan Sontag