Italian Classics in Translation

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The historical, the political, and the personal overlap within Italian society in these six remarkable works of fiction. One of the most celebrated NYRB Classics, Natalia Ginzburg’s Family Lexicon is a semi-autobiographical portrayal of a family’s routines, rituals, and idiosyncrasies in the midst of Mussolini’s rule. Another novel that grapples with the harsh effects of fascism, Cesare Pavese’s The Moon and the Bonfires chronicles a nameless narrator’s return to his World War II–torn village after years of living in America. Fans of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard will want to read his book of short stories, The Professor and the Siren, which includes an introduction by Marina Warner.

Guido Morselli’s The Communist tells the story of a deputy in the Italian parliament with a wavering faith in the party that formed him. Adapted into a film directed by Jean-Luc Godard and starring Brigitte Bardot in 1963, Alberto Moravia's Contempt is a keen psychological drama about the failing marriage of a screenwriter. Featuring an introduction by Italo Calvino, Carlo Emilio Gadda’s That Awful Mess on the Via Merulana centers on a detective investigating a bizarre case of burglary and murder in an apartment building where almost every tenant is under suspicion.