Natalia Ginzburg

Natalia Ginzburg née Levi, was an Italian author who explored family relationships, politics during and after the Fascist years and World War II, and philosophy. She wrote novels, short stories and essays, for which she received the Strega Prize and Bagutta Prize. Most of her works were also translated into English and published in the United Kingdom and United States.

She spent most of her youth in Turin with her family, as her father took a position with the University of Turin in 1919. Her father, Giuseppe Levi, a renowned Italian histologist, was born into a Jewish Italian family, and her mother, Lidia Tanzi, was Catholic. Her parents were secular and raised Natalia, her sister Paola and her three brothers as atheists. Their home was a centre of cultural life, as her parents invited intellectuals, activists and industrialists. At age 17 in 1933, Ginzburg published her first story, I Bambini, in the magazine Solaria.

In 1938, she married Leone Ginzburg and they had three children together. Her husband died in 1944 after having been arrested and tortured.
After her marriage, she used the name Natalia Ginzburg on most subsequent publications. Her first novel was published under the pseudonym Alessandra Tornimparte in 1942, during Fascist Italy’s most anti-Semitic period, when Jews were banned from publishing.

Ginzburg spent much of the 1940s working for the publisher Einaudi in Turin in addition to her creative writing. They published some of the leading figures of post-war Italy, including Carlo Levi, Primo Levi, Cesare Pavese and Italo Calvino. Ginzburg's second novel was published in 1947.

The experiences that she and her husband had during the war altered her perception of her identification as a Jew. She thought deeply about the questions aroused by the war and the Holocaust, dealing with them in fiction and essays. She converted to Catholicism, arousing controversy among her circle, because she believed that Christ was a persecuted Jew.

Beginning in 1950, when Ginzburg married again and moved to Rome, she entered the most prolific period of her literary career. During the next 20 years, she published most of the works for which she is best known. She and Baldini were deeply involved in the cultural life of the city.

Ginzburg was politically involved throughout her life as an activist and polemicist. Like many prominent anti-Fascists, for a time she belonged to the Italian Communist Party. She was elected to the Italian Parliament as an Independent in 1983. She died in 1991.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1942 - La strada che va in città 
1947 - È stato così - The Dry Heart, unknown translator (1949)
1952 - Tutti i nostri ieri - All our yesterdays, translated by Angus Davidson (1959)
1957 – Valentino – Valentino & Sagittarius, translated by A. Bardoni (1987)
1957 – Sagittario – Valentino & Sagittarius, translated by A. Bardoni (1987)
1961 - Le voci della sera - Voices in the Evening, unknown translator (1963)
1962 - Le piccole virtù - The Little Virtues, translated by Dick Davies (1985)
1963 - Lessico famigliare -  Family Sayings, unknown translator (1999)
1970 - Mai devi domandarmi - Never must you ask me, translated by I. Quigly (1973)
1973 - Caro Michele – Dear Michael, unknown translator (1974)
1974 - Vita immaginaria 
1983 - La famiglia Manzoni
1984 - La città e la casa - The City and the House, unknown translator (1987)
1999 - È difficile parlare di sé – It’s hard to talk about oneself, conversations with Marino Sinibaldi, unknown translator (2003)

Books about Natalia Ginzburg

2010 - Natalia Ginzburg: Jewishness as Moral Identity, by Nadia Castronuova

 

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