The Moon and the Bonfires
by Cesare Pavese, introduction by Mark Rudman, translated from the Italian by R.W. Flint
Winner of the 2003 PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize
The nameless narrator of The Moon and the Bonfires, Cesare Pavese’s last and greatest novel, returns to Italy from California after the Second World War. He has done well in America, but success hasn’t taken the edge off his memories of childhood, when he was an orphan living at the mercy of a bitterly poor farmer. He wants to learn what happened in his native village over the long, terrible years of Fascism; perhaps, he even thinks, he will settle down. And yet as he uncovers a secret and savage history from the war—a tale of betrayal and reprisal, sex and death—he finds that the past still haunts the present. The Moon and the Bonfires is a novel of intense lyricism and tragic import, a masterpiece of twentieth-century literature that has been unavailable to American readers for close to fifty years. Here it appears in a vigorous new English version by R. W. Flint, whose earlier translations of Pavese’s fiction were acclaimed by Leslie Fiedler as “absolutely lucid and completely incantatory.”
Pavese made an attempt, heroic and successful, to encompass national and social concerns. His novels about Italy in the later stages of the Second World War formed a "historical cycle of my own times"...Among the [Italian neo-realist] novelists, Cesare Pavese had, as he was not too modest to suspect, the greatest mastery.
— Richard Ellman, The New York Review of Books
[Flint's] translation is readable, stylish, and sometimes quite lyrical.
— The New Yorker
There is something about [Pavese]—and the translation does not lose it—that is insinuating, haunting and lyrically pervasive.
— The New York Times Book Review
One of the word's great creative depressives. The Moon and the Bonfires [is] his masterpiece on the aftermath of the partisan war in the hills around Turin.
— Tim Parks, The Daily Telegraph