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Major themes of the work are detachment, poverty, exploitation and marital fidelity and respect. Conversazione in Sicilia literally translates to English as Conversation in Sicily ; English translations have appeared under that title and a variety of other titles, including In Sicily and Conversations in Sicily. The first US edition contains a foreword by Ernest Hemingway , reprinted in several later editions. Silvestro Ferrauto is a Sicilian working as a typesetter in Milan, who beset by strange feelings of hopelessness, decides to visit Sicily after receiving a letter from his father which reveals that the father has abandoned Ferrauto's mother.
Ferrauto has not visited Sicily since leaving at the age of 15 and ends up on the train to Sicily apparently without conscious thought. Ferrauto then has various conversations with a number of Sicilians on the way to, and in, Sicily. When you are reading this at a far-remove from 's Italy it is probably easier to just take it as a quirky travelogue rather than as "one of the great novels of Italian anti-fascism" as it is described in the book's English translation promo here on Goodreads.
As a first-time reader I was constantly second-guessing the various statements and incidents for their possible meanings, some of which were more blatant than others e. The fascist censors had difficulty as well, as they let it pass in its original serialized magazine printings from and allowed its original book publication in , until finally arresting and imprisoning the author in Hemingway's attraction to its modernist stylings esp. His foreword has been used in the English translation publications since including in this translation by Alane Salierno Mason.
View all 3 comments. Shelves: citylights , italy. Though they really have little in common stylistically, Vittorini reminds me of Kazantzakis, for reasons I would be very hard pressed to pinpoint. I especially enjoyed Vittorini's descriptions of Sicilian food, reflected in Signora Ferrauto's horror at her son's description of his wife's cooking.
My absolutely favorite part of this book is Ferrauto's Conversation with the kni Though they really have little in common stylistically, Vittorini reminds me of Kazantzakis, for reasons I would be very hard pressed to pinpoint. My absolutely favorite part of this book is Ferrauto's Conversation with the knife grinder, some of which follows: And the knife grinder: "Pepperoni, milk, goats, pigs and cows Jan 11, Isabel rated it really liked it. This is why, I thought, we loved the idea of people living in luxury, the idea of the whole civil-military s "I thought of my father and myself, all men, with our need for soft hands touching us, and I thought I understood something of our uneasiness with women; of our readiness to desert them, our women with their rough, almost masculine hands, their tough hands in bed at night; and of how like slaves we would submit to calling a woman a queen who was a woman, an odalisque, when she touched us.
I realized early on in this novel that it was likely to be more rewarding if one simply gives oneself up to it rather than agonize over its every meaning, not unlike when listening to music. As such it's immensely enjoyable as a trip can be to a not-so-distant past s? It's not all sunny travelogue however, there are some dark side trips. That said, by the time one reaches the end, the melodic, and often very funny, text imparts to the reader a feeling of empat I realized early on in this novel that it was likely to be more rewarding if one simply gives oneself up to it rather than agonize over its every meaning, not unlike when listening to music.
That said, by the time one reaches the end, the melodic, and often very funny, text imparts to the reader a feeling of empathy and bonhomie towards the world in general. It reminded me of James Joyce's The Dead, which on the surface is a simple account of an evening celebration but ends up being something more meaningful and universal.
I wasn't surprised to read afterwards that Vittorini resisted fascism during WWII and was a small 'h' humanist. Reading this fulfilling novel is like going on a terrific holiday with a native companion and coming home wiser than before. Jul 24, Jeanette rated it really liked it. The first 8 or 9 pages I audibly sighed. Not my style, I thought. So arrogant, so self-centered, so male "all about me" with most others not given names, just basic descriptive categories.
Women, wives, girlfriends basically in the "them" category of mere landscape mention. But no, it was fabulous. I almost gave it a 5.
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He hits the very essence of Sicilian perceptions and self-identity. And the exact kinds of communication and sensibilities that result. In the rock, in the prickly pear, in the Mo The first 8 or 9 pages I audibly sighed. In the rock, in the prickly pear, in the Mother's life- every aspect- this author is Sicily. And a Sicilian looking at the world of the "Big Lombard" that is away- he knows. Enjoyable and fabulous read. There are quotes worth rereading on every other page that relate to human nature, trust- so much of the essence of being alive- when you "understand" the Sicilian conversations.
May 22, Craig rated it really liked it Shelves: books-to-read-before-you-die. Embraced, it closes. Apr 12, Bert van der Vaart rated it liked it. Parts of this book are beautiful and parts verge on the incomprehensible. Hemingway nicely introduced the book, and I get that Vittorini had to write it somewhat poetically in part to get it past Mussolini's censors, but the book still pulls up short of either being poetic or politically coherent. It does go a good way towards explaining how poor Sicily was during Mussolini, and how difficult it would be to bring Sicily up to a more modern economic standard of living.
It also touches on some bro Parts of this book are beautiful and parts verge on the incomprehensible. It also touches on some broader themes such as the meaning of a man's life and the emptiness of merely drinking wine for "veritas" or chasing after women for "warmth" or "intimacy". But it ends rather abruptly and definitely short of making a lasting point. What a beautiful and yet difficult life Sicily seems to be providing its citizens!
Jun 12, Mikee rated it it was amazing Shelves: italian-literature.
Silvestro is at a turning point in his life no future and no past. A letter from his father prompts him to spontaneously visit his mom in a remote village in Sicily. A ferry, several trains and a bus take him there. It is a journey in time and space. It helps him reconnect to the universe. He cries for all the suffering and mourns for his brother. This is a simple lyrical book, filled with truths. It feeds back truths in little tiny pieces.
Apr 05, Lisa rated it liked it. The fact that the narrator took a journey to his homeland, interacting with strangers along the way, and that the novel is so lyrical reminded me of the Odyssey as I read it. I understand the awful conditions of the impoverished Sicilians and why the author had been drawn to communism, but the representations of all the conver The fact that the narrator took a journey to his homeland, interacting with strangers along the way, and that the novel is so lyrical reminded me of the Odyssey as I read it. I understand the awful conditions of the impoverished Sicilians and why the author had been drawn to communism, but the representations of all the conversations were mostly lost on me.
Apr 07, Julia Rad rated it really liked it. I found this book intriguing, I am not entirely sure why.
[eBook] Conversations in Sicily
I do not know enough behind the author or the movement. I enjoyed it for it's obscurity none the less. Mar 17, Dan Vine rated it it was amazing Shelves: literature. An enigmatic and highly evocative book. Sep 28, Eugene rated it really liked it. View 1 comment. Elio Vittorini's Conversations in Sicily is a charming story and beautiful portrait of one man, family and home, set during a tumultuous time in history, that of World War II and its subsequent years.
The conversations that emerge through much of the story evoke nostalgic feelings that the reader grows attached to. This is a simple story of a listless and confused young man who seeks a change in mood and outlook by visiting his hometown, where fond memories of his childhood are awakened.
Vittorin Elio Vittorini's Conversations in Sicily is a charming story and beautiful portrait of one man, family and home, set during a tumultuous time in history, that of World War II and its subsequent years.
Vittorini so delicately draws and colors in details of places and people, from the start of Silvetro's return journey by train to the family home that he is so comfortable and familiar with. Praised by many, including Ernest Hemingway, this novel is a beautiful description of man finding peace within himself upon his return home.
Downright depressed and unhappy with his life and work in a northern Italian megalopolis seems to be the answer as the narrative begins. The narrator's impromptu return to his native Sicilian hamlet, 15 years after his departure, begins a series of conversations with sharply defined characters he meets along the way and in his home town. Each successive interaction with people as varied as fellow travelers on a train heading south, his mother, or the ghost of his "What is a man?
Each successive interaction with people as varied as fellow travelers on a train heading south, his mother, or the ghost of his brother, forces the narrator in an end note Vittorini asserts the book is not autobiographical to deal with his anomie and face his demons. Feb 24, book rated it really liked it. It may be due to my archivist's ear, but I gleaned themes of "the poor's" story not being collected, told.
The idea of underrepresented populations not being part of history is one that intrigues me both professionally and personally. This theme is certainly not explicit throughout, but the implication was a bit striking when our hero attempts to define and affirm "fortunate mother. Shoc It may be due to my archivist's ear, but I gleaned themes of "the poor's" story not being collected, told.
Conversations in Sicily by Elio Vittorini
Shocking, I know. Sep 09, Kathy rated it really liked it Shelves: read-in , italy. I really liked this short book. It is a mixture of straightforward narrative, dream-like experiences and poetic symbolism. The narrator is a Sicilian who left home at the age of fifteen and now, at the age of thirty, returns to pay his mother a visit.
The evocation of his journey and the description of his experiences at his mother's village enable him not only to understand more about himself and his childhood, but also to express his criticism of fascism and war. I would definitely re-read this I really liked this short book. I would definitely re-read this book, as I am sure it would reveal more of its meaning on a second reading.