Natalia Ginzburg Ginzburg, Natalia (Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism) - Essay


(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

Natalia Ginzburg 1916-1991

(Has also written under the pseudonym of Alessandra Tournimparte) Italian novelist, short story writer, critic, essayist, biographer, autobiographer, journalist, and playwright.

The following entry provides criticism on Ginzburg's works from 1990 through 2000. For criticism prior to 1990, see CLC, Volumes 5, 11, 54, and 70.

A major Italian novelist of the post-World War II era, Ginzburg examines the difficulties of maintaining interpersonal relationships in contemporary society. Writing in reserved, understated prose, she often utilizes small but significant details to develop the crises of her characters. Her early works depict individuals whose ambitions are stifled by marriage and familial restrictions, while her later writings explore problems caused by the disintegration of the family unit.

Biographical Information

Ginzburg was born July 14, 1916, in Palermo, Italy. At the age of three, her family moved to Turin when her father, an anatomy professor, was appointed chair of the anatomy department at the University of Turin. In 1935 she enrolled in the university, but she never completed her studies. She married anti-Fascist activist Leone Ginzburg in 1938; two years into their marriage, he was arrested for subversive activities and imprisoned in the town of Pizzoli. In 1940 she moved to Pizzoli with their two children. Her first novel, La strada che va in città (1942; The Road to the City), was written during this time. After Leone's release from prison in July 1943, he moved his family to Rome. In November 1943 he was arrested again, this time for editing the anti-Fascist newspaper L'Italia libera. On February 5, 1944, he died under torture while in prison. For the next two years, Natalia and her children hid in Rome. After the end of the war, she moved back to Turin to work as a translator and editor for the publishing firm Einaudi. During this time she became acquainted with several major Italian authors, such as Italo Calvino, Cesare Pavese, and Elio Vittorini. In 1952 she moved back to Rome and became a professor of literature at Magistero, a prominent teachers' college. She wrote articles and reviews for periodicals and published novellas and plays. She was very active in politics during her life, and in 1983 she was elected deputy to the Italian parliament. Ginzburg died of cancer October 7, 1991.

Major Works

Ginzburg's first major works of fiction are narrated by young women who are disappointed in love. The heroine of The Road to the City, which Ginzburg published under the pseudonym of Alessandra Tournimparte, successfully manipulates a wealthy young man into marrying her but realizes afterward that she has sacrificed her relationship with the man she really loves. Several of Ginzburg's early novellas present a bleak yet often humorous view of domestic life. For example, Valentino (1957) concerns a promising young man who disappoints his family by marrying an unattractive but wealthy woman. While Ginzburg's early works portray the family as a source of personal suppression, they also emphasize its importance as a stabilizing social force. Her later writings decry the effects of divorce and the growing alienation between generations. In the novel Caro Michele (1973; No Way, also published as Dear Michael), Ginzburg centers on the last days in the life of an exiled activist through a series of letters written by his estranged parents and friends.

Ginzburg's autobiographical and biographical writings have earned critical recognition. Lessico famigliare (1963; Family Sayings), a memoir of Ginzburg's life from the 1920s through the 1950s, features a laconic, conversational style reminiscent of her fictional narratives. La famiglia Manzoni (1983; The Manzoni Family) chronicles two hundred years in the family history of eighteenth-century Italian poet Alessandro Manzoni. The book's eight sections focus on the experiences of a particular family member through the transcription of actual letters and a novelistic recreation of events. In addition to her fiction and biographical writings, Ginzburg has published numerous articles and critical essays. These pieces are collected in Le piccole virtù (1962; The Little Virtues), Mai devi domandarmi (1970; Never Must You Ask Me), and Vita immaginaria (1974). She has also written several plays, including Fragola e panna (1966), La segretaria (1967), and L'inserzione (1968; The Advertisement).

Critical Reception

Ginzburg's simple, spare style of writing has impressed critics, while her intimate explorations of domestic life have been praised for their authenticity and concern for traditional values. Moreover, commentators have commended the use of humor, irony, and detail in her work and further describe her style as laconic, subdued, and direct. The characterization of women and children has been another area of critical study, and there have been several feminist perspectives on her plays, fiction, and essays. In general, commentators view Ginzburg's prose work as a perceptive reflection of social and historical events in Italy during the tumultuous years during and after WWII. Her minimalist style and compassionate evocation of the frustrated lives of her protagonists have elicited comparisons to the works of Anton Chekhov.

Principal Works

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

La strada che va in città [The Road to the City] (novella) 1942

È stato così [The Dry Heart] (novella) 1947

Tutti i nostri ieri [Dead Yesterdays] (novel) 1952; revised as All Our Yesterdays, 1985

Valentino [Two Novellas: Valentino and Sagittarius] (novellas) 1957

Le voci della sera [Voices in the Evening] (novella) 1961

Le piccole virtù [The Little Virtues] (essays) 1962

Lessico famigliare [Family Sayings] (memoir) 1963

Cinque romanzi brevi (novels) 1964

Fragola e panna (play) 1966

Ti ho sposato per allegria e alter commedie (play) 1966

La segretaria (play) 1967

L'inserzione [The Advertisement] (play) 1968

Mai devi domandarmi [Never Must You Ask Me] (essays) 1970

Caro Michele [No Way] (novel) 1973; also published as Dear Michael, 1975

Vita immaginaria (essays) 1974

Famiglia [Family: Two Novellas] (novellas) 1977

La famiglia Manzoni [The Manzoni Family] (biography) 1983

La città e la casa [The City and the House] (novel) 1984

Opere, raccolte e ordinate dall'autore. 2 vols. (novellas, memoir, essays, plays) 1986-87

Serena Cruz, o la vera giustizia (essays) 1990

Teatro (plays) 1990

A Place to Live, and Other Selected Essays of Natalia Ginzburg (essays) 2002

It's Hard to Talk about Yourself (interviews) 2003

Serena Anderlini (essay date April 1990)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Anderlini, Serena. “The Advertisement: Homoeroticism and Gender in Natalia Ginzburg's Drama.” Esperienze Letterarie 15, no. 2 (April 1990): 67-82.

[In the following essay, Anderlini asserts that the relationship between the two female characters in The Advertisement provides insight into the Italian feminist movement of the 1960s.]

The Advertisement is a pre-new feminist Italian drama by Natalia Ginzburg, a part-Jewish female writer prominent in the national, post world war two literary scene; the play premiered in London in 1968 and is symbolic of the writer's concern with the new feminism and the intersubjective rapports among women that it brought about. The play occupies a central position in Ginzburg's dramaturgy: the homoerotic complicity of the two female characters reflects Ginzburg's effort to refocus her attention from the women of her own generation to those of the following one, who, born during the ‘baby-boom’, in the seventies became the rank and file of Italian Femminismo. Formally anchored to the dynamics of the ‘theatre of the absurd’, The Advertisement foreshadows the thematics of new feminist drama.

Natalia Ginzburg had been through a lot when the women's movement became a prominent force in the Italian scene in the mid-seventies. She was born in 1916, before the dawn of Fascism, the youngest child of a middle-class part-Jewish Italian family, and in her childhood had absorbed her father's view that “there [was] nothing, absolutely nothing that one could do against Fascism” except undo it by the strength of one's resilience, and still be there to tell the story after its fall. Married to Leone Ginzburg—a left-wing Russian-Jewish political activist, who was found murdered in a prison cell in 1944—she had made the best of her wifely exile in an Abruzzi peasant town, when the regime had sent him to political confinement. In Le piccole virtù, a memoir, her “Eboli” is evoked as a lost paradise, but the narrative breaks the image of the happy family with an account of Natalia's first and atrocious encounter with death:

Mio marito morì a Roma nelle carceri di Regina Coeli, pochi mesi dopo che avevamo lasciato il paese. Davanti all'orrore della sua morte solitaria, davanti alle angosciose alternative che precedettero la sua morte, io mi chiedo se questo è accaduto a noi, a noi che compravamo le arance da Girò e andavamo a passeggiare nella neve. Allora io avevo fiducia in un avvenire facile e lieto, ricco di desideri appagati, di esperienze e di comuni imprese. Ma era quello il tempo migliore della mia vita e solo adesso che mi è sfuggito per sempre, solo adesso lo so.

(My husband died in Rome in the Regina-Coeli prisons, a few months after we had left the village. Before the horror of his solitary death, before the harrowing alternatives that preceded it, I ask myself if this really happened to us, the very people who used to buy oranges from Girò, and went out into the snow to take a walk. I used to have faith then in easy and happy times to be, clad with fulfilled desires, with experiences and with adventures in common. But that was the best time in my life and only now that I have lost it forever, only now I know it)1.

Bereaved at such an early age (twenty-nine) and being left a young widow with three small children at the end of a second war, she became interested in a particular kind of character: her women have lower-class, rural, humble origins, but a tremendous drive to project themselves out into the environment, and a talent for living intensely and being intensely loved. If they are narcissistic, self-conscious, extremely difficult women, in her dramaturgy one finds that their desires are the cement of society. Just like Lillian Hellman—a similarly prominent female American dramatist—Natalia Ginzburg is not concerned with typically feminist characters, but with ordinary, non-professional and often non-educated women, who obstinately resist the conforming pressures of society2.

Ginzburg's activity as one of the most prominent Italian novelists since the forties can be briefly summarized: a series of romanzi brevi written in the pre- and post-war period, started her out as the representative of the gentil sesso in a group of left-wing Jewish-Italian letterati, among the country's prime liberal intellectuals3. A cross between the novella and a regular novel, the romanzo breve is a swift, condensed, unadorned narrative, conveying the viewpoint of a voce femminile in a fable based on a collective protagonist and characterized by Ginzburg's distinctive staccato rhythm and naïve accents. Lessico famigliare (1963), a full-length novel of family life and anti-Fascism, brought national recognition: a withdrawn, timid, naïve narrator casts in a choral structure the story of the author's childhood under Fascism. The memory of Natalia's relatives echoes through the book in the lines of the family jargon that form the refrains distinctive of individual characters; a confused notion of a prior age, that—before the backlash associated with the Fascist period—had been more promising and attractive for women, is reflected in the child's puzzled admiration for her garrulous, lighthearted, and amusingly eccentric mother. With the raise of Italian Femminismo Ginzburg put the novel aside, and for a number of years devoted herself to drama. She later returned to her original genre, but drama put her in touch with the generation formed in the intense experience of the new feminism, and this understanding became the backbone of her later narratives. Her plays reflect the political and cultural vivacity that Femminismo brought about.

To define Ginzburg's perspective on women one needs to glance at the specifics of the women's movement in Italy. In the early twentieth century, a rural economy and the Catholic establishment prevented the suffrage movement from gaining popular support in the country. Feminist ideas survived the ventennio (1921-45) through the efforts of a xenophile intelligentsia, colored of anti-Fascism; but with the peace treaty women's vote was granted as an antidote to Marxism. The rapid industrial development of the sixties broke the traditional family structure, but was not adequately matched by a transformation in the judicial system of the country: for instance, there was a state prohibition for the sale of contraceptive devices, and divorce was not allowed. Birth-control pills were sold illegally under the heading of headache remedies, but statistics announced an incidence of illegal abortions and irregular sexual partnerships higher than most western countries. Back-room abortions and illegitimacy had become a way of life automatically4.

When the liberal left passed a timid set of regulations it faced an immediate resistance from the conservative side of the country. The right wing in alliance with the Church establishment set out on a campaign to abrogate the new laws granting divorce and abortion rights, by a popular referendum. The situation gave a tremendous momentum to the feminist rank and file: on the issues of both divorce and abortion the country became politically polarized, and for two times in a row a large majority of the people voted side to side with the women's movement. Femminismo acquired a clear conscience of its powers: in moving the public opinion from a preindustrial to a post-modern view of the family, Italian women felt for a while that they had in their hands the destiny of the country.

A combination of social, historical, religious and economic factors thus made the impact of Femminismo particularly dramatic. Natalia Ginzburg was affected by this impact, but maintained a sober standpoint and a controlled distance. In 1973 she was a regular contributor to the terza pagina of two major liberal newspapers. Questioned about la condizione femminile, she answered:

Non amo il femminismo. Condivido però tutto quello che chiedono i movimenti femminili. Condivido tutte o quasi le loro richieste pratiche.

[I do not love (new) feminism. I am in agreement, however, with all that which feminists movements demand. I share all, or almost all their practical demands]5.

Feminism in the seventies obscurely appeared to her as a new form of reverse, self-defeating “racism”. She saw its origins in an age old “inferiority complex” of women, that gave a “secret complicity” as its questionable results. She thought that for the national feminist movements to become positive forces in the complex of society the implications of that secret complicity had to be sorted out6.

As in the plays by women her contemporaries, in Ginzburg's plays female characters of the new feminist generation are placed stage center. However, her American and Continental contemporaries do not match her political acumen and her lucid insight into the dynamics of women's solidarity. White American playwrights like Megan Terry and Rosalyn Drexler were much younger than Ginzburg. Their work in experimental theatre collectives produced protest plays about themes like birth-control, rape and abortion that conveyed their messages through utopia and abstraction: their female characters are pale and depersonalized. Racial consciousness granted a perspective distance from the new feminism to Black American women writers: Lorraine Hansberry drew memorable, intense female characters, but still concentrated primarily on the racial tensions of the time. The new feminist dramatic urge also stimulated established French novelists and filmmakers like Nathalie Sarraute and Marguerite Duras; their plays have complex, multidimensional female characters; however, the eroticism of language overrides gender tensions, and the complicity of female characters is buried under a heavily formal absurdist style.

Ginzburg's anarchical equidistance from both feminism and capitalism is similar to that of her well-known predecessor Lillian Hellman—a quite controversial writer whose last original play Toys in the Attic premiered in 1961. Ginzburg is also a woman of the same generation as this American writer; both are keen observers of the new feminism who focus on the examination of the dynamics of gender in intimate family microcosms, rather than calling political attention to macroscopic aspects like political demonstrations and rallies. However, Ginzburg develops homoerotic complicity because she uses multiple female protagonists: for instance, one senses the imminence of a new feminist age in Toys in the Attic, but Lily, the central character, is isolated from her generation, and therefore incapable to voice its demands. In Ginzburg's The Advertisement Teresa and Elena form a dual female protagonist and reciprocally awake their feminist consciousness as they form an erotic bondage with one another: where Hellman left Ginzburg picked up, remaining all through the seventies an active and successful playwright.

Lighthearted farce is the initial tone of Ginzburg's dramatic period, which sees traditional gender-roles respected and upper-class, conventional mores satirized. In Ti ho sposato per allegria (I Married you for Fun), for instance, the effrontery of Giuliana, a young female character from the working-class, is a vivifying force in the play's milieu. Her adventurous and unpredictable temperament stands in contrast to her upper-class sister- and mother-in-law. Giuliana's maid has adopted conventional manners to be on the safe side, and she strangely mimics the rigidity of Giuliana's in-laws. Giuliana's influence begins to be felt in the environment, but her alliance with the maid keeps the scope of the satire on the social level. A darker tone in the later plays is conducive of the suffocating atmosphere imposed, despite Femminismo, by the impinging economic crisis. In La porta sbagliata (the wrong door) a confused, unacknowledged anxiety hovers behind a disappointed baby-boom generation that has reversed gender and class conventions, but feels itself to be of no use to an unevenly developed society. With its oblique humor and its diffused, but not quite overwhelming anxiety, the above mentioned Advertisement finds its dramatic balance in between these two7.

The complexity of Natalia Ginzburg's dramaturgy gives evidence of the hypothesis that gender difference in writing cannot be established on the basis of a purely formal or of a purely thematic analysis. Scholars who propose a formal answer to the questions “what is the difference?” and “why study it?” are naturally bound to find that men from a country other than their own, or from an ethnicity other than their own, use forms believed to be specific of women's playwriting. Likewise, ‘alien’ women dramatists may use forms that appear “masculine” to the American feminist mind. Ginzburg, for instance, uses Ionescan, threadbare absurdist canvases, which can be easily construed as a surrender to “masculine” structures: in the seventies the absurdist model was well-established, especially if compared to the “transformational” new feminist experiments of this country. But Ginzburg, already established, stayed away from the avant-garde experimentation that was also becoming popular among her younger women compatriots: the first significant Italian woman dramatist, she put her plays in the mainstream circuits, and used well-known directors and actors. Like Hellman, her above mentioned illustrious American predecessor, she used traditional dramatic forms to deconstruct them.

In Ginzburg's intriguing love triangles one can likewise read an echo of the comedy of manners, whose apoliticism can be constructed as the feminist reflection of a generic Italian backwardness. However, it is precisely by focusing on the private microcosm of a collapsing post-industrial heterosexual couple that Ginzburg can explore the thematic complexity of women's desires, their world of erotic projection and the crucial moments of their collective state of mind. A brief analysis of Ginzburg's reception illustrates how audiences responded to her works according to changing gender constructs.

Commentators on Ginzburg's literary beginnings as a novelist took her for granted as the virtuoso “token” woman of the Italian post-Fascist literary environment: local critics acknowledged a promising talent, but none spent time on the influence of gender in her writing; Italian criticism being still a male province at the time, Ginzburg's thematics automatically came across as “less relevant” that those of contemporary male writers8.

In the seventies, Ginzburg's novels have attracted a number of female commentators outside and inside of her country. Theses critics have focused on the rhythm of her prose and or her style: as has been pointed out, the rhythm of Ginzburg's prose is based on a staccato pace and on an abundance of vowels that mask a sage consciousness under a naïve style. But her thematic organization functions on stinging humorous bits that interrupt the pace, and on metaphors about temporality and death that cut across the rhythms creating emotional vertigo. This common denominator of thirty years of writing reflects her contemplative poetic personality and her drive to hide in the observer's corner and unfold the stories of apparent “others” as a means to establish the writer's power to survive them9.

Her recent enchanting, intriguing and sad novels show how drama changed the perspectives of her narrative. From Caro Michele (Dear Michael, 1973) to La città e...

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Alan Bullock (essay date 1991)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bullock, Alan. “Female Alienation: Childhood and First Youth.” In Natalia Ginzburg: Human Relationships in a Changing World, pp. 64-91. New York: Berg, 1991.

[In the following essay, Bullock explores the impact Ginzburg's childhood had on her work.]

Melancholy … is the prime characteristic of Ginzburg's fiction …1

The overwhelming sadness which led Natalia Ginzburg to compose her poem on the death of love at the age of twelve is the first known indication of her most striking characteristic: a preference for themes and situations that are elegiac if not uncompromisingly pessimistic. Once...

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Peggy Boyers (essay date fall 1992)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Boyers, Peggy. “An Introduction: Natalia Ginzburg in Her Essays.” Salmagundi, no. 96 (fall 1992): 54-84.

[In the following essay, Boyers surveys the diverse subject matter of Ginzburg's essays and praises her nonfiction work as concise, perceptive, and lucid.]

In an autobiographical essay on “Childhood” Natalia Ginzburg wrote of her family the following: “We were ‘nothing’, my brothers had told me; we were ‘mixed’, that is, half Jewish and half Catholic, but in fact neither one thing nor the other: nothing. This being ‘nothing’ in religion seemed to me to pervade our whole way of life: we were neither really rich, nor really poor: excluded...

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Lorrie Goldensohn (essay date fall 1992)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Goldensohn, Lorrie. “Natalia Ginzburg: The Days and Houses of Her Art.” Salmagundi, no. 96 (fall 1992): 96-129.

[In the following essay, Goldensohn traces the thematic and stylistic development of Ginzburg's work.]

Natalia Ginzburg published her first novel at 26 in 1944, her last in 1985. Her books, including a memoir and collections of essays, embrace a succession of crowded decades that stretch from fascist Italy to postwar anomie. Politics and history suffuse a work that often turns its face away from overt political analysis: “My political thinking is pretty rough and tangled, elementary and confused,” she once said. At the near edges of her...

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Adalgisa Giorgio (essay date October 1993)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Giorgio, Adalgisa. “Natalia Ginzburg's ‘La madre’: Exposing Patriarchy's Erasure of the Mother.” Modern Language Review 88, no. 4 (October 1993): 864-80.

[In the following essay, Giorgio examines “La madre” to illustrate “how Ginzburg succeeds in putting forward a powerful criticism of society's oppression of a mother, without directly expressing any such criticism.”]

In the course of a writing career spanning almost sixty years, Natalia Ginzburg (1916-91) focused exclusively on the representation of the Italian family, the relationships between its members, and women's alienation within it. With reference to the latter theme, it has become...

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Judith Laurence Pastore (essay date 1993)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Pastore, Judith Laurence. “The Sounds of Silence: The Absence of Narrative Presence in Natalia Ginzburg's La cittá e la casa.Italian Culture 11 (1993): 311-22.

[In the following essay, Pastore discusses Ginzburg's use of a narrative absence approach in her fiction, especially in La cittá e la casa.]

Natalia Ginzburg has done well to “rely on her own ear for the dramatic transcript of a language within which resides the secret of her narrative powers and beneath which one senses the presence of something unsaid.”

—Raul Radice

Masterpiece Theatre's adaptation of Samuel...

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Wallis Wilde-Menozzi (essay date winter 1994)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wilde-Menozzi, Wallis. “Anchoring Natalia Ginzburg.”1Kenyon Review 16, no. 1 (winter 1994): 115-30.

[In the following essay, Wilde-Menozzi discusses the defining characteristics of Ginzburg's work.]

An actress offered me the tapes of a two-hour interview with Natalia Ginzburg made in April 1991 six months before her death at age seventy-five. The brown, magnetic scrolls unwound a much-mourned presence: Natalia Ginzburg's voice. Robust, weathered and warm, her laughter revealed wisdom. I think I could also hear (perhaps because so many people had mentioned it to me) signs of Ginzburg's mask: pain that had not been given in to.


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Lynn Masland (essay date September 1994)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Masland, Lynn. “In Her Own Voice: An Irigarayan Exploration of Women's Discourse in Caro Michele (Natalia Ginzburg) and Lettere a Marina (Dacia Maraini).” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature 21, no. 3 (September 1994): 331-40.

[In the following essay, Masland utilizes aspects of Luce Irigaray's theory of women's discourse to compare Ginzburg's Caro Michele and Dacia Maraini's Lettere a Marina.]

Can She speak? Does She have a voice? If She could speak, what would She say?

In this paper, I will apply some aspects of Luce Irigaray's theory of women's discourse to two works of fiction by contemporary Italian women...

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Sharon Wood (essay date 1994)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wood, Sharon. “Women and Theater in Italy: Natalia Ginzburg, Franca Rame, and Dacia Maraini.” RLA: Romance Languages Annual 5 (1994): 343-48.

[In the following essay, Wood asserts that the diverse works of Ginzburg, Franca Rame, and Dacia Maraini share connections in feminist roots.]

In 1954 the American writer and theater critic Eric Bentley commented that “Italy, ever as poor in drama as she is rich in theatricality, is finding that a profession of playwrights cannot be legislated into existence even with the help of subsidies.”1 Bentley was echoing the despair expressed by Luigi Pirandello in Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore some...

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Judith Woolf (essay date 1996)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Woolf, Judith. “Silent Witness: Memory and Omission in Natalia Ginzburg's Family Sayings.Cambridge Quarterly 25, no. 3 (1996): 243-62.

[In the following essay, Woolf elucidates the role of silence and omission in Family Sayings.]

I have written only what I remember, so if this book is read as a chronicle it could be objected that it is full of gaps. Even though I am dealing with real life, I think it ought to be read as a novel; in other words, without asking either more or less of it than a novel can give.1

Natalia Ginzburg belonged to that remarkable generation of women writers whose...

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Tonia Caterina Riviello (essay date spring 1999)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Riviello, Tonia Caterina. “From Silence to Universality in Le piccole virtù by Natalia Ginzburg.” Forum Italicum 33, no. 1 (spring 1999): 185-99.

[In the following essay, Riviello considers the major thematic concerns of the essays in Le piccole virtù.]

In Natalia Ginzburg's book Le piccole virtù it is evident that the European sociological disruptions she has witnessed during the last fifty years have crucially influenced her writing. Expressing many of the same concerns as several of her contemporaries, Ginzburg offers commentary on the changing face of society as a result of World War II. Essentially, she evokes in her personal essays...

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David Ward (essay date 2000)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ward, David. “Natalia Ginzburg's Early Writings in L'Italia libera.” In Natalia Ginzburg: A Voice of the Twentieth Century, edited by Angela M. Jeannet and Giuliana Sanguinetti Katz, pp. 46-62. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000.

[In the following essay, Ward notes the optimism and the militant tone of Ginzburg's writing around the end of World War II.]

Rome's Traforo, the tunnel which connects via del Tritone and via Nazionale, is not usually considered one of the consecrated sites of Italian political life. Yet, for Natalia Ginzburg and her close friend Carlo Levi, it has a significant if highly personal history. For both, the Traforo has...

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Jen Wienstein (essay date 2000)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wienstein, Jen. “The Eloquence of Understatement: Natalia Ginzburg's Public Image and Literary Style.” In Natalia Ginzburg: A Voice of the Twentieth Century, edited by Angela M. Jeannet and Giuliana Sanguinetti Katz, pp. 179-96. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000.

[In the following essay, Wienstein investigates Ginzburg's public image as evinced through her essays.]

In her essay ‘Moravia,’ which appears in the 1974 collection of essays and articles Vita immaginaria, Natalia Ginzburg discusses her famous friend Alberto Moravia and bitterly complains about the untruthful nature of his public image. According to Ginzburg, Moravia's public...

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Further Reading

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)


Simborowski, Nicoletta. “Music and Memory in Natalia Ginzburg's Lessico famigliare.Modern Language Review 94, no. 3 (July 1999): 680-90.

Considers the role of music and memory in Lessico famigliare.

Additional coverage of Ginzburg's life and career is contained in the following sources published by the Gale Group: Contemporary Authors, Vols. 85-88, 135; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 33; Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vols. 5, 11, 54, 70; Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 177; Drama for Students, Vol. 14; Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century,...

(The entire section is 98 words.)