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It's Hard to Talk about Yourself [Hardcover]

Natalia Ginzburg , Louise Quirke

Price: CDN$ 26.90 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

May 15 2003
Natalia Ginzburg, arguably the most important woman writer of postwar Italy, always spoke of herself with irrepressible modesty. Yet the woman who claimed she "never managed to climb up mountains" in fact wrote the history of twentieth-century Italy with her sparse and captivating prose, chronicling Fascism, war, and the Nazi occupation as well as the intimacies of family life.

Ginzburg's marriage to Leone Ginzburg, who met his death at the hands of the Nazis for his anti-Fascists activities, and her work for the Einaudi publishing house placed her squarely in the center of Italian political and cultural life. But whether writing about the Turin of her childhood, the Abruzzi countryside, where her family was interned during World War II, or contemporary Rome, Ginzburg never shied away from the traumas of history-even if she approached them only indirectly, through the mundane details and catastrophes of personal life.

Intensely reserved, Ginzburg said that she "crept toward autobiography stealthily like a wolf." But she did openly discuss her life and her work in an extraordinary series of interviews for Italian radio in 1990. Never before published in English, It's Hard to Talk about Yourself presents a vivid portrait of Ginzburg in her own words on the forces that shaped her remarkable life-politics, publishing, literature, and family. This fluid translation will join Ginzburg's autobiography, Family Sayings, as one of the most important records of her life and, as the editors write in their preface, "the last, unexpected, original book by Natalia Ginzburg."


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Natalia Ginzburg, arguably the most important woman writer of postwar Italy, always spoke of herself with irrepressible modesty. Yet the woman who claimed she "never managed to climb up mountains" in fact wrote the history of twentieth-century Italy with her sparse and captivating prose, chronicling Fascism, war, and the Nazi occupation as well as the intimacies of family life.

Ginzburg's marriage to Leone Ginzburg, who met his death at the hands of the Nazis for his anti-Fascists activities, and her work for the Einaudi publishing house placed her squarely in the center of Italian political and cultural life. But whether writing about the Turin of her childhood, the Abruzzi countryside, where her family was interned during World War II, or contemporary Rome, Ginzburg never shied away from the traumas of history-even if she approached them only indirectly, through the mundane details and catastrophes of personal life.

Intensely reserved, Ginzburg said that she "crept toward autobiography stealthily like a wolf." But she did openly discuss her life and her work in an extraordinary series of interviews for Italian radio in 1990. Never before published in English, It's Hard to Talk about Yourself presents a vivid portrait of Ginzburg in her own words on the forces that shaped her remarkable life-politics, publishing, literature, and family. This fluid translation will join Ginzburg's autobiography, Family Sayings, as one of the most important records of her life and, as the editors write in their preface, "the last, unexpected, original book by Natalia Ginzburg."

About the Author

Natalia Ginzburg (1916-1991) wrote novels, short stories, poems, plays, and essays and translated Proust and Flaubert. In 1983, she was elected to the Italian Parliament, where she served almost until her death. Among her many books are The Road to the City: Two Novellas (1942), Valentino (1957), Family Sayings (1963), Never Must You Ask Me (1970), and The Manzoni Family (1983).

Louise Quirke is a professional translator who has worked for Editore Laterza and the University of Cambridge Press.

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MARINO SINIBALDI In The Things We Used to Say there is a description of a visit from Filippo Turati, who fled Italy in 1926. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ginzburg on the Block Nov. 3 2010
By Philip Brantingham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"It's Hard to Talk About Yourself" is a transcript (edited) of a series of interviews on RAI (Italian state radio) with Natalia Ginzburg, one of Italy's most esteemed authors--now deceased. It is a potpourri of chatty conversations and intimate questions about the author's methods, background, and career. Various critics and friends pop in and out, a kind of Ralph Edwards' "This is Your life" show. While the happy chat tone of much of it is offputting, there are nuggets of fact to be mined from this book--chiefly from the author herself, who modestly narrates the life she led. This involves her perilous life in Fascist Italy as a Jew and opponent of the regime.
Ginzburg is a modest woman, which matches the simplicity of her literary style and the subjects she has written about: chiefly family life in Italy of her time. Readers acquainted with her novels, such as "All Our Yesterdays" and "The Road to the City" will be eager to learn about how she came about writing them. She avoids any elaborate theories or influences (though Chekhov was her idol), and humbly states that each book was created line by line strictly from inspiration.
For those interested in this great writer, the book is essential reading.

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