Cesare Pavese

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Cesare Pavese
BirthplaceSanto Stefano Belbo
Italian poet, novelist, literary critic and translator

Pavese, Cesare

(chā`zärā pävĕ`sā), 1908–50, Italian novelist, poet, and translator. A major literary figure in postwar Italy, Pavese brought American influence to Italian literature through his translations. He himself was strongly influenced by Melville. Pavese's flight from the Fascists and subsequent imprisonment were reflected in his writings, which dealt with social struggle and revealed his sympathy for the oppressed. His major works include Il Compagno [the comrade] (1948), Tra Donne Sole (1948; tr. Among Women Only, 1953), and La luna e i falò (1950; tr. The Moon and the Bonfire, 1952). Pavese's recurrent theme in these novels is the search of urban man, who is caught in continually changing situations, for permanence and stability. In 1950, unhappy with both his personal life and the political climate of postwar Italy, he committed suicide.


See study by D. Thompson (1982).

Pavese, Cesare


Born Sept. 9, 1908, in Santo Stefano Belbo, Piedmont; died Aug. 27, 1950, in Turin. Italian writer. Member of the Italian Communist Party from 1945.

Pavese graduated from the University of Turin in 1930. He worked for the Einaudi publishing house and translated works by contemporary American writers. In the 1930’s he was exiled for his anti-Fascist views. Themes in Pavese’s early works, which included the verse collection Lavorare stanca (Work Is Tiring, 1936) and the novella Paesi tuoi (1941; English translation The Harvesters, 1962), are a tragic alienation and the rejection of reality. Contrasting motifs—an overcoming of hopelessness and the discovery of meaning in life—are found in the collection of novellas Prima che il gallo canti (Before the Cock Crows, 1949) and in the novella La luna e i falò (1950; English translation The Moon and the Bonfires, 1952; Russian translation in the journal Novyi mir, 1969, no. 12). The young hero of the novel Il compagno (1947; Russian translation, 1960; English translation The Comrade, 1961) becomes a Communist and a member of the underground.

Pavese’s diary, Il mestiere di vivere (1952; English translation The Burning Brand, 1961), was published posthumously, as were collections of his verse, short stories, and critical articles. His literary style and ideological quest influenced the young writers of postwar Italy.


Dialoghi con Leucò, 3rd ed. Turin, 1960.
In Russian translation:
Prekrasnoe leto. Moscow, 1974.


Breitburd, G. “Goden k peru.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1973, no. 7.
Venturi, G. Pavese. Florence [1970].
Gioanola, E. C. Pavese. Milan [1971].


References in classic literature ?
The peasant made the raven prophesy still more, and said: 'Thirdly, he says that there is some salad on the bed.
Listen, the spirit of life is in me and I prophesy.
It tried its best, but the instrument was built so that it couldn't prophesy fine weather any harder than it did without breaking itself.
No one can prophesy what a lion will do in any given emergency.
About the future it is useless to prophesy, but the horrible war of 1914 is certain to exert for many years a controlling influence on the thought and literature of both England and the whole world, an influence which, it may be hoped, will ultimately prove stimulating and renovating.
Of this Partridge was no sooner acquainted, than he, with great earnestness, began to prophesy, and assured Jones that he would certainly have good success in the end: for, he said, "two such accidents could never have happened to direct him after his mistress, if Providence had not designed to bring them together at last.
It is altogether a place that you won't forget, a place to open a man's soul, and make him prophesy, as he looks down on that great Vale spread out as the garden of the Lord before him, and wave on wave of the mysterious downs behind, and to the right and left the chalk hills running away into the distance, along which he can trace for miles the old Roman road, "the Ridgeway" ("the Rudge," as the country folk call it), keeping straight along the highest back of the hills--such a place as Balak brought Balaam to, and told him to prophesy against the people in the valley beneath.
The evening with which we have to do, was neither a summer nor an autumn one, but the twilight of a day in March, when the wind howled dismally among the bare branches of the trees, and rumbling in the wide chimneys and driving the rain against the windows of the Maypole Inn, gave such of its frequenters as chanced to be there at the moment an undeniable reason for prolonging their stay, and caused the landlord to prophesy that the night would certainly clear at eleven o'clock precisely,--which by a remarkable coincidence was the hour at which he always closed his house.
Pickwick, 'I will venture to prophesy that he will find some other friend who will not be backward in helping him to start in the world.
From what you have seen of Tom, I think he is not a youth of whom you would prophesy failure in anything he had thoroughly wished; the wagers are likely to be on his side, notwithstanding his small success in the classics.