The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories by Jhumpa Lahiri

Author:Jhumpa Lahiri
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780141985626
Publisher: Penguin UK
Published: 2019-03-07T00:00:00+00:00

‘La moglie di Gogol’

First published in the magazine Città (14 December 1944), later included in Ombre (Vallecchi, 1954) and then in Racconti (Vallecchi, 1961).

Natalia Ginzburg


Ginzburg was a young bride and recent mother when she left Turin, where she was raised, to follow her husband, an anti-fascist dissident, who had been interned in a small village in Abruzzo. It was there, in a place she both loved and detested, that she wrote several short stories which she published under a false name, Alessandra Tornimparte, necessary protection for a Jewish writer at the time. After the fall of Mussolini and the liberation of Italy, Einaudi published a volume called La strada che va in città (The Road to the City) under her real name. This story comes from that book. Ginzburg wrote it at night, as her children slept. In 1943, her daughter Alessandra was born, named after the pseudonym that had protected and in some sense ‘given birth’ to Ginzburg the writer. Her most famous work, Lessico famigliare (the most recent English version is called Family Lexicon), which received the Strega Prize in 1963, is an amalgam of truth and invention that both anticipates the literary memoir and surpasses it. Reading Ginzburg, one understands that all memory is constructed. In 1937, she was approached by Einaudi, where Leone was among the first and most prominent editors, to join the group of writers entrusted to translate the complete works of Marcel Proust (she translated the first volume, Swann’s Way). Ginzburg also worked for years as an editor at Einaudi (where she famously rejected Levi’s manuscript of Se questo è un uomo). This tale, characteristic of Ginzburg’s delicate, unblinking style, and her love of first-person narration, is composed with a placidity that contains violent emotional currents. It was Natalia’s daughter Alessandra who suggested I include this particular story in this volume.


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