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Questa raccolta di saggi e articoli, scritti in vari anni dalla Ginzburg, affinano e migliorano il suo stile, dimostrando le straordinarie capacit comunicative dell autrice Questo libro, pubblicato tra due grandi opere come Le voci della sera e Lessico famigliare, non risulta ridimensionato dall accostamento con le due opere pi celebri della scrittice Le piccole virtpresenta abbozzi, riflessioni e constatazioni della realt che circondava la Ginzburg l ambiente londinese dove viveva, il suo rapporto con il secondo marito, tra passione e incomprensione, episodi rievocati di un infanzia e una giovinezza trascorsa da tempo ma mai dimenticate.Il titolo della raccolta, di carattere antifrastico, chiarifica che, per l autrice, le piccole virt , che consistono soprattutto in un ostentato perbenismo e in una bonomia di maniera, sconsiderata e semplicistica, sono le principali cause di incomprensione, semplicioneria, stupidit , dolori e sofferenze Il tutto ci viene presentato nel consueto stile diretto, immediato ma sapientemente evocativo, con cui la Ginzburg manifestava una dote di ingenuit che riesce ad arrivare al nocciolo delle vicende e dei problemi Questo stile capace, con pochi tratteggi, di rievocare atmosfere e ambienti, non solo fisici, ma soprattutto mentali, e questa ingenuo candore misto a acuta ponderatezza riescono a dare a quest opera il tocco di maestria che tramuta una raccolta di saggi in un grande lavoro artistico.

10 thoughts on “Le piccole virtù

  1. Steven Godin Steven Godin says:

    From married life to the murder of her husband, the Italian writer Natalia Ginzburg shows a deft lightness of touch in these eleven moving and personal essays written between 1944 and 1960 Ginzburg s deceptively simple style is inspiring, making this easy to read for just about anybody, and has at least one something we can all relate to Some of the essays chronicle Ginzburg s time in exile with her family during the Second World War, others compare the life she experienced in Italy with life in England, or the particular differences of preference and temperament between Ginzburg and her second husband The title essay considers what we should teach children not the little virtues but the great ones, according to Ginzburg Not thrift but generosity and an indifference to money not caution but courage and a contempt for danger not shrewdness but frankness and a love of truth not tact but love for one s neighbour and self denial not a desire for success but a desire to be and to know Even these few words alone were enough to sit up and take notice.A charming piece on early married life gives way to the memory of her first husband, a writer, professor, and resistance leader, who was imprisoned and murdered by Fascist police in 1944 But that was the best time of my life, and only now that it has gone from me for ever only now do I realise it In another, about shoes, Ginzburg asks, rather suddenly, about her sons, What road will they choose to walk down She has been thinking about her worn out shoes and the comfortable and protective pairs provided to her children at their grandmother s house Will they decide to give up everything that is pleasant but not necessary, she writes, or will they affirm that everything is necessary and that men have the right to wear sound, solid shoes on their feet Most often in these essays her children are ever present in the background, they are safe with her mother while she lives in Rome with a female friend, or they appear only through their toys, which cover the floor beneath the table where her husband wrote at their home in the Abruzzi, in Fascist imposed exile Caring for her children is not necessarily a pleasure so much as a duty, one that sometimes interferes with art, but it is nevertheless central to her role as a parent When she is away from her children she anticipates returning to them, and to a life of domestic comforts, becoming a different person than the woman who writes whenever she pleases Then, she writes, she shall take my children in hand and overcome the temptation to let my life go to pieces I shall become serious and motherly, as always happens when I am with them The most poignant piece of all for me was on her friend, the poet and novelist Cesare Pavese, written a few years after he took his own life in a hotel near the station he wanted to die like a stranger in the city to which he belonged One of the marks of Natalia Ginzburg s originality, is her use of the constructive possibilities of apathy In several of her essays, I wondered why I was bothering to read this at all, but continued like a moth to a light because Ginzburg s plain, conversational style kept me engaged, she knew how to pull in a reader, sentence after sentence Although not everything got me worked up, at least two thirds I was very impressed with Written with a family warmth, and a touch of wisdom, that as a human being it was simply impossible not to be affected by in some way.

  2. Rowena Rowena says:

    We have seen reality s darkest face, and it no longer horrifies us And there are still those who complain that writers use bitter, violent language, that they write about cruel, distressing things, that they present reality in the worst possible light Natalia Ginzburg, The Son of God I picked this one up and started reading because it was in the Italian lit section at the library and I m trying to read women writers It took me a while to realize that these were short essays and not short stories like I d initially supposed Maybe it has something to do with her writing style I found it very accessible I liked her essays a lot She writes about her struggles as a mother and a writer, her time in exile, her travels, and personal challenges.She also wrote a very biting piece on England, which I think most English people will take umbrage at but was quite interesting to me regardless Eulogy and Lament We are quickly infected by the English melancholy It is a sheepish, stunned melancholy, a sort of empty bewilderment, and on its surface the conversations about the weather, the seasons about all those things one discusses without going too deeply into anything, without giving offense or being offended linger like the constant buzzing of mosquitoesThere were also essays about raising kids during the war, what changes regarding parenting because of war and hardships In a way it reminded me of Zweig s reminiscences of Europe after the war We cannot do this to children who have seen terror and horror in our facesThere is an unabridgeable abyss between us and the previous generation The dangers they lived through were trivial and their houses were rarely reduced to rubble A couple of passages I liked My vocation is to write stories invented things or things which I can remember from my own life, but in any case stories, things that are connected only with memory and imagination and have nothing to do with erudition This is my vocation and I shall work at it till I die As far as the things we write are concerned there is a danger in grief just as there is a danger in happiness Because poetic beauty is a mixture of ruthlessness, pride, irony, physical tenderness, of imagination and memory, of clarity and obscurity and if we cannot gather all these things together we are left with something meagre, unreliable and hardly alive

  3. Heather Heather says:

    This collection was genius So exquisite a delight when you come across a writer who thinks for themselves She describes herself as a tiny flea of a writer, but her minute observations on life fill up the heart The last essay on parenting is irreverent but so wise I underlined every line and am learning from it.

  4. Ashley Ashley says:

    I am in the minority when it comes to this book And I have wracked my brain trying to understand why it is held in such high, high regard There are a handful of short essays in this collection that I thought were excellent, but I found the majority of them almost interminable The context here, and so many of the essays, is World War II, Italian fascism, the horrors of what unfolded as communities were ravaged Her dismissive, shallow essays on England can be seen as cries for home, I understand That still doesn t make them great art She s at her best, when she writes about vocation, in this case writing Her advice in the final essay that we can only be good parents if we have a passion in our own lives is excellent But there was so much in here that I didn t like, stuff that did not resonate with me at all When she writes about her longtime partner he comes across as an abusive dick, and yet it seems to me that she is paying homage to this behavior This book was barely over 100 pages, and it took me 10 days to read I do not mean this review to persuade anyone not to read the book Finer minds than mine have found in this book wonderful writing and timeless, original thinking.

  5. Maritza Buendía Maritza Buendía says:

    The little virtues by Natalia Ginzburg is a short collection of essays that contains thought provoking observations on topics such as domestic life, raising children, relationships as well as beautiful insights from past experiences, her homeland, and her call to write vocation Written in the first person, her style is simple, direct and intimate, and conveys the author s keen eye for observation and genuine wisdom At times, her tone is melancholic and a bit defeatist, but never preachy A good read for a would be writer, The Little Virtues is an interesting book that will make you take a closer look at your own life, purpose and values.I particularly enjoyed He and I , Portrait of a Friend and Silence.

  6. Liina Bachmann Liina Bachmann says:

    Not all the essays are equally compelling in Little Virtues , but those that are good, are very good They are very dense, not in a sense that they are difficult to read but almost every other line is something you d want to underline and remember There are excellent points about what it means being a writer, how to not raise your children and why England is the most melancholy country in the world, among others What bothered me a tiny bit was the impression that she justified her being through her vocation This was a recurring theme in the book To have a vocation is something that makes you worthwhile, that makes life worthwhile and your children should definitely be set on one without your interference of course it should develop organically Well done if you have a calling but it is clear most people don t and I wish she had used her intelligent observations and insights to tell us what happens when you are just floating, without being here nor there how to find content then It would have been interesting to read her take on that.

  7. Hamidreza Hamidreza says:

    i couldn t finish it too negetive i just went through first 20 pages

  8. Lulufrances Lulufrances says:

    The first two stories essays for somewhat reason failed to grip me at all, I read the words but my brain didn t connect with the content Colour me surprised when I found that after those, this collection got better and better and I really enjoyed myself the last piece after which this is named was my favourite and I recommend it to anyone.Also, what a beautiful book to behold and, so, hold the pages are so buttery soft, I stroked them on several occasions

  9. Oni Oni says:

    In his introduction to the first edition of The Little Virtues, Italo Calvino described Ginzburg s essays as a lesson in literature And that s partly how I think about them too as of a new form of autobiographical writing that is closer to poetry than to prose Not as a consequence of language per se, which is deceptively simple and not exactly lyrical, but rather as a consequence of their sparsity and obliqueness Essence distilled yet not touched upon bluntly They are similar to icebergs, these essays Clear at the surface, touching depths that cannot be guessed at a first glance, yet devastating when the impact does occur.In terms of writing style, I m not sure if this will sound coherent, but I keep thinking of this collection as of circular water movements in a pond caused by a heavy rainfall or the dropping of a stone The heavy drops, the stone s fall disrupting the water surface are the essence, but instead of describing them directly, Ginzburg writes about the circular ripples they provoke She hints at the source and the center of the fall, approaching them obliquely The effect is unique and deeply affecting, intimate and distanced at the same time For while reading Ginzburg s lines about torn shoes and children s bikes, about writing, marriage and motherhood, about the melancholy of England and winters in isolated Italian villages, one senses that one reads about something else too, something having an unbearable weight The murder of her husband by fascists Depression and the suicide of a close friend The years of poverty Of melancholy, bleak exile.I sometimes heavily disagreed with Ginzburg s stances, but that simply felt secondary It didn t distract me and in many ways, it only made me respect her For beyond the uniqueness of these essays, the dignity, grace and modesty with which Ginzburg carried those unbearable weights touch a deep chord as well.

  10. Bob Bob says:

    Italian post war writer except that the earliest essays here date from during WWII when she and her husband, both Italian Jews, were in internal exile he was subsequently killed by the Nazis for his anti fascist activism Ginzburg is famous for the elegant simplicity of her style which makes reading her in Italian manageable as well and her cool chronicling of the domestic and internal aspects of her life, despite having been caught up in some of the most tumultuous public events of her era.Most famous for her 1963 novel Lessico Famigliare Family Sayings , its tenor is anticipated here in the 1962 essay called He and I presumably about her second husband, Gabriele Baldini, though he is never named and is as loving and exasperated enumeration of the little details of a relationship as you could ask for.Another essay, Portrait of a Friend , dispassionately describes a thorny character, again without ever actually using a name an interesting device distancing in a way, but lacking the depersonalizing effect of the Kafka esque single initial ultimately it feels intimate, plunging you into the subjective consciousness of someone thinking to herself about someone else she knows very well.