Posts tagged Italy
No one reads Carlo Sgorlon (1930-2009).
From Jessie Bright’s introduction to The Wooden Throne:
Carlo Sgorlon was born in 1930 in Cassacco, a tiny village near Udine, capital of Friuli, a region in northeastern Italy near the Austrian and Yugoslav borders. He spent much of his childhood in the countryside, where he attended primary school only rarely but came into daily contact with Friulian peasant life. The influence of his grandfather, a retired schoolmaster with a strong literary bent, and his grandmother, a practicing midwife steeped in local folklore, formed the basis of his love of literature and his reverence for ancient peasant traditions.
[…]He has written a number of novels in the dialect of Friuli, as well as twelve novels and numerous short stories in Italian. His fiction has been translated into French, Spanish, Finnish, German and certain Slavic languages. His literary scholarship, aside from translations from the German, includes two major critical works, one on Kafka and the other on Elsa Morante.
[…] The Wooden Throne, his most famous book, was a best seller in Italy and since it was first published in 1973 has gone through fifteen printings. In fact its publisher, Mondadori, has recently brought it out in a new edition as part of a special series entitled “Twentieth Century Masterpieces.”
I started reading this book today and it is very charming.
Also in English: Army of the Lost Rivers
Cover art by Alexandra Eldridge
“Born in Palermo in 1887, Maria Messina spent time in Umbria, Tuscany, the Marches, and Naples, but always wrote about Sicily. Although early in her career her work met with critical acclaim, she died forgotten in 1944. Several decades later she was rediscovered by the Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia, who viewed her as an Italian Katherine Mansfield. Her novel A House in the Shadows (1921) is available in English.”
—Bio by Lawrence Venuti, who translated her story “The Shawl” in his fine anthology Italy: A Traveler’s Literary Companion
“[Messina] taught herself to read and write, eventually finding a mentor in the famed Italian realist Giovanni Verga, who encouraged her to begin writing seriously. Her works include novels, short stories, and children’s tales. In 1910, she received the Medal of Gold for her first book of stories, Pettini-fini (Fine Combs).”
—Bio by Feminist Press, who published a book of Messina’s stories, Behind Closed Doors
Booklist praising Behind Closed Doors: “Virtually the only great Italian fiction about the massive Sicilian immigration to America written while it was happening … honed, polished, devastatingly direct—verismo at its unsentimental best.”
Start with his short stories: “The Labrenas”, “The Mute”, “Gogol’s Wife”. Italo Calvino’s introduction to the other collection, Words in Commotion and Other Stories, is also useful in getting to know this Italian recluse.
I first read of Landolfi in Harold Bloom’s How to Read and Why. He also shows up on Don B.’s reading list.
Does anyone read Alberto Savinio, Giorgio de Chirico’s younger brother?
***Will’s update, 9/2011:
The book-length English translations are not (yet) hard to find:
I provided a short excerpt from Tragedy of Childhood here.
Someone desperately needs to tend to Savinio’s paltry wikipedia stub.