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Translated by D.M. Low
The places, events and people are all real. I have invented nothing. Every
time that I have found myself inventing something in accordance with my old
habits as a novelist, I have felt impelled at once to destroy everything
Remembered family sayings slip in and out of this extraordinary
autobiographical novel. It spans the period from the rise of fascism
through the Second World War, in which her husband perished at the hands of
the Nazis. It names names, the members of the family and political and
cultural figures who were family friends and foes. Natalia Ginzburg's
father was a professor of biology and a domestic tyrant, her mother a vague
figure with artistic interests. Both were anti-fascists and suffered for
it. Ginzburg insists that Family Sayings, which tells nothing more or less
than the truth as she remembers it, should be read 'without demanding of it
either more or less than what a novel can offer.'
'It seems to give biography a new dimension, new possibilities, and the
tired old form of the family chronicle an aspect that is entirely new.
Natalia Ginzburg is a brilliant eccentric, almost certainly Italy's best
woman writer.' Times Literary Supplement
'Natalia Ginzburg's wonderful Family Sayings, a fictional anthology of an
exceptional family of radical, intellectual Turin Jews. Italian political
life before and during the Second World War is brilliantly filtered through
the eccentric, intimate recollections of domestic arguments, traditions and
habits. It is a small, entrancing classic.' Hermione Lee, Observer
'there is something irresistibly appealing about the struggle from
weakness toward goodness, especially when she looks at her younger self
with a kind of comical deprecation as though it were a baby toad in the
palm of her hand.' New York Review of Books
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