The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories

Introduction by Jhumpa Lahiri
Edited by Jhumpa Lahiri
A landmark collection of stories--nearly half appearing in English for the first time--selected and introduced by Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri

A Penguin Classic


When Jhumpa Lahiri decided to read exclusively in Italian, a language she had studied for many years, her life as a reader--and writer--took a surprising turn. Complete immersion in this rich literary heritage brought fresh insight and
unexpected freedom.

This collection brings together forty writers who have shaped her love of the Italian language and profound appreciation for its literature. More than half of the stories featured in this volume have been translated into English for the first time, and the wide-ranging selection includes well-known authors such as Italo Calvino, Elsa Morante, and Luigi Pirandello alongside many captivating rediscoveries.

Poets, journalists, visual artists, musicians, editors, critics, teachers, scientists, politicians, translators: the writers that inhabit these pages represent a dynamic cross-section of Italian society. Together they reflect more than a hundred years of Italy's vibrant and diverse short-story tradition, their powerful voices resonating through regional landscapes, private passions, and the dramatic political events of the twentieth century.

For more than seventy-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 2,000 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Contents

Introduction by Jhumpa Lahiri
A Note on the Citation of Titles and Their Translations 

   • “
Names and Tears” by Elio Vittorini
   • “Picturesque Lives” by Giovanni Verga
   • “The Siren” by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
   • “Against Time” by Antonio Tabucchi
   • “Generous Wine” by Italo Svevo
   • “The Long Voyage” by Leonardo Sciasci
   
• “Bago” by Alberto Savinio 
   • “The Hen” by Umberto Saba
   • “The Lady” by Lalla Romano
   • “The Tower” by Fabrizia Ramondino
   • “The Trap” by Luigi Pirandello
   • “Wedding Trip” by Cesare Pavese
   • “Melancholy” by Goffredo Parise
   • “Silence” by Aldo Palazzeschi
 
  • “A Pair of Eye/glasses” by Anna Maria Ortese
   • “The Other Side of the Moon” by Alberto Moravia
   • “The Ambitious Ones” by Elsa Morante
   • “Sixteen, Twenty-one, Twenty-eight and Thirty-seven” from Centuria by Giorgio Manganelli
   • “Quaestio de Centauris” by Primo Levi
   • “Gogol’s Wife” by Tommaso Landolfi
   • “My Husband” by Natalia Ginzburg
   • “The Mother” by Carlo Emilio Gadda
   • “A Martian in Rome” by Ennio Flaiano
   • “The Smell of Death” by Beppe Fenoglio
   • “Life as a Couple” by Luce D’Eramo
   • “The Milliner” by Antonio Delfini
   • “The Hind” by Grazia Deledda
   • “Invitation to Dinner” by Alba de Céspedes
   • “Elegy for Signora Nodier” by Silvio D’Arzo
   • “Malpasso” by Fausta Cialente
   • “At the Station” by Carlo Cassola
   • “The Golden Nut” by Cristina Campo
   • “Dialogue with a Tortoise” by Italo Calvino
   • “And Yet They Are Knocking at Your Door” by Dino Buzzati
   • “The Miraculous Beach, or, Prize for Modesty” by Massimo Bontempelli
   • “A Geographical Error” by Romano Bilenchi
   • “The Streetwalker” by Luciano Bianciardi
   • “Miss” by Anna Banti
   • “The Baboon” by Giovanni Arpino
   • “Barefoot” by Corrado Alvaro

Notes
Chronology
Further Reading
Acknowledgments
About the Translators
“The perfect companion whenever I get around to that trip to Rome.” —Jeva Lange, The Week

“An excellent introduction to Italy—a sentimental Baedeker useful for traveling into the mind of a fascinating if elusive nation . . . To have re-discovered, edited, and re-proposed these authors is laudable. But Lahiri went further: she understood them. And she shares a deep appreciation for their common denominator: Italy. . . . This is the real Italy. And The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories demonstrates this better than any travel guide does.” —Beppe Severgnini, Air Mail

“A remarkable introduction to Italian literature and a great gift to the English-speaking reader . . . Each story in this volume is a jewel.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“A welcome addition to the shelf of Penguin anthologies of world literature . . . [Lahiri] features women, authors less-known or neglected, and those ‘who practiced the short form with particular vehemence and virtuosity.’ . . . The Penguin Book of Short Stories may reward the patient listener to the voices of these tellers.” —PopMatters

“Jhumpa Lahiri crowns her public turn as an Italophile and translator with [The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories]. . . .  It could hardly come at a better time, when Elena Ferrante’s novels and the American revival of Natalia Ginzburg are igniting new interest in the literary traditions of the Belpaese.” —Lit Hub

“Rich . . . Eclectic . . . A feast . . . Her choice of 40 authors embraces familiar greats and sows them with fascinating additions. . . . They remind us of the short story’s playfulness, its ability to move us with unexpected sharpness while it experiments with voices, styles and boundaries.” —The Telegraph

“An enticing collection . . . The tales are by turns startling, moving, intriguing and provocative; they bring melancholy, humor and a dose of the uncanny.” —The Times Literary Supplement

“Refreshing and surprisingly contemporary . . . A map of Ferrante’s hinterland . . . Lahiri has pulled off something quite striking here: a literary anthology that sparkles with invention and variety, makes a remarkably convincing case for the vitality of the modern Italian short story and also beguiles, thanks to her sharp-eyed work as editor, compiler and part-translator. . . . There’s a gamut of register—comedy, fantasy, satire, psychological and social realism and more. . . . There are plenty of big hitters—Lampedusa, Svevo, Sciascia, Gadda, Calvino—though they are often represented with nicely unpredictable stories. . . . And there are captivating juxtapositions. . . . Throughout, Lahiri displays deft literary and linguistic touches. She is clearly enjoying this. She provides elegant one-page bios for all forty writers. . . . She writes with compelling force of the dense pluralism of voice in Italian language and literature. Crucially, she also makes a point of championing the extraordinary depth and quality of women’s voices.” —Literary Review

“This volume, which honors so many writer-translators, is as much a tribute to the Italian short story as it is a validation of the need—aesthetic, political, ethical—for translation itself. . . . Only works in translation can broaden the literary horizon, open doors, break down the wall.” —Jhumpa Lahiri, from the Introduction

About

A landmark collection of stories--nearly half appearing in English for the first time--selected and introduced by Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri

A Penguin Classic


When Jhumpa Lahiri decided to read exclusively in Italian, a language she had studied for many years, her life as a reader--and writer--took a surprising turn. Complete immersion in this rich literary heritage brought fresh insight and
unexpected freedom.

This collection brings together forty writers who have shaped her love of the Italian language and profound appreciation for its literature. More than half of the stories featured in this volume have been translated into English for the first time, and the wide-ranging selection includes well-known authors such as Italo Calvino, Elsa Morante, and Luigi Pirandello alongside many captivating rediscoveries.

Poets, journalists, visual artists, musicians, editors, critics, teachers, scientists, politicians, translators: the writers that inhabit these pages represent a dynamic cross-section of Italian society. Together they reflect more than a hundred years of Italy's vibrant and diverse short-story tradition, their powerful voices resonating through regional landscapes, private passions, and the dramatic political events of the twentieth century.

For more than seventy-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 2,000 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Excerpt

Contents

Introduction by Jhumpa Lahiri
A Note on the Citation of Titles and Their Translations 

   • “
Names and Tears” by Elio Vittorini
   • “Picturesque Lives” by Giovanni Verga
   • “The Siren” by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
   • “Against Time” by Antonio Tabucchi
   • “Generous Wine” by Italo Svevo
   • “The Long Voyage” by Leonardo Sciasci
   
• “Bago” by Alberto Savinio 
   • “The Hen” by Umberto Saba
   • “The Lady” by Lalla Romano
   • “The Tower” by Fabrizia Ramondino
   • “The Trap” by Luigi Pirandello
   • “Wedding Trip” by Cesare Pavese
   • “Melancholy” by Goffredo Parise
   • “Silence” by Aldo Palazzeschi
 
  • “A Pair of Eye/glasses” by Anna Maria Ortese
   • “The Other Side of the Moon” by Alberto Moravia
   • “The Ambitious Ones” by Elsa Morante
   • “Sixteen, Twenty-one, Twenty-eight and Thirty-seven” from Centuria by Giorgio Manganelli
   • “Quaestio de Centauris” by Primo Levi
   • “Gogol’s Wife” by Tommaso Landolfi
   • “My Husband” by Natalia Ginzburg
   • “The Mother” by Carlo Emilio Gadda
   • “A Martian in Rome” by Ennio Flaiano
   • “The Smell of Death” by Beppe Fenoglio
   • “Life as a Couple” by Luce D’Eramo
   • “The Milliner” by Antonio Delfini
   • “The Hind” by Grazia Deledda
   • “Invitation to Dinner” by Alba de Céspedes
   • “Elegy for Signora Nodier” by Silvio D’Arzo
   • “Malpasso” by Fausta Cialente
   • “At the Station” by Carlo Cassola
   • “The Golden Nut” by Cristina Campo
   • “Dialogue with a Tortoise” by Italo Calvino
   • “And Yet They Are Knocking at Your Door” by Dino Buzzati
   • “The Miraculous Beach, or, Prize for Modesty” by Massimo Bontempelli
   • “A Geographical Error” by Romano Bilenchi
   • “The Streetwalker” by Luciano Bianciardi
   • “Miss” by Anna Banti
   • “The Baboon” by Giovanni Arpino
   • “Barefoot” by Corrado Alvaro

Notes
Chronology
Further Reading
Acknowledgments
About the Translators

Praise

“The perfect companion whenever I get around to that trip to Rome.” —Jeva Lange, The Week

“An excellent introduction to Italy—a sentimental Baedeker useful for traveling into the mind of a fascinating if elusive nation . . . To have re-discovered, edited, and re-proposed these authors is laudable. But Lahiri went further: she understood them. And she shares a deep appreciation for their common denominator: Italy. . . . This is the real Italy. And The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories demonstrates this better than any travel guide does.” —Beppe Severgnini, Air Mail

“A remarkable introduction to Italian literature and a great gift to the English-speaking reader . . . Each story in this volume is a jewel.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“A welcome addition to the shelf of Penguin anthologies of world literature . . . [Lahiri] features women, authors less-known or neglected, and those ‘who practiced the short form with particular vehemence and virtuosity.’ . . . The Penguin Book of Short Stories may reward the patient listener to the voices of these tellers.” —PopMatters

“Jhumpa Lahiri crowns her public turn as an Italophile and translator with [The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories]. . . .  It could hardly come at a better time, when Elena Ferrante’s novels and the American revival of Natalia Ginzburg are igniting new interest in the literary traditions of the Belpaese.” —Lit Hub

“Rich . . . Eclectic . . . A feast . . . Her choice of 40 authors embraces familiar greats and sows them with fascinating additions. . . . They remind us of the short story’s playfulness, its ability to move us with unexpected sharpness while it experiments with voices, styles and boundaries.” —The Telegraph

“An enticing collection . . . The tales are by turns startling, moving, intriguing and provocative; they bring melancholy, humor and a dose of the uncanny.” —The Times Literary Supplement

“Refreshing and surprisingly contemporary . . . A map of Ferrante’s hinterland . . . Lahiri has pulled off something quite striking here: a literary anthology that sparkles with invention and variety, makes a remarkably convincing case for the vitality of the modern Italian short story and also beguiles, thanks to her sharp-eyed work as editor, compiler and part-translator. . . . There’s a gamut of register—comedy, fantasy, satire, psychological and social realism and more. . . . There are plenty of big hitters—Lampedusa, Svevo, Sciascia, Gadda, Calvino—though they are often represented with nicely unpredictable stories. . . . And there are captivating juxtapositions. . . . Throughout, Lahiri displays deft literary and linguistic touches. She is clearly enjoying this. She provides elegant one-page bios for all forty writers. . . . She writes with compelling force of the dense pluralism of voice in Italian language and literature. Crucially, she also makes a point of championing the extraordinary depth and quality of women’s voices.” —Literary Review

“This volume, which honors so many writer-translators, is as much a tribute to the Italian short story as it is a validation of the need—aesthetic, political, ethical—for translation itself. . . . Only works in translation can broaden the literary horizon, open doors, break down the wall.” —Jhumpa Lahiri, from the Introduction

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