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A Private Affair (Modern Voices) [Paperback]

Beppe Fenoglio , Howard Curtis (translator)

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Book Description

13 Dec 2006 Modern Voices
After the fateful day of 8th September 1943 - when Italy surrendered to the Allies and was occupied by the Wehrmacht - university student Milton joins the anti-German partisan militia in the mountainous areas of Piedmont. It is a hard life of watches, patrols, ambushes and near-escapes, but Milton seems to live in something of a daze, heedless of the danger of being captured by the Fascist bands, and immersed in his own world of thoughts and memories. Resistance fighting and 'private affair', history and life are fused together through a masterful use of the flash-back technique, while Milton's romantic, obsessive and desperate quest for love and truth carries a wealth of universal connotations that still reverberate to this day.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Hesperus Press Ltd; Tra edition (13 Dec 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843914263
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843914266
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.6 x 1.4 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 381,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'His beautifully controlled prose presents a cruelly absurd vision of war punctuated by passages of hyperreal tension...Italo Calvino considered 'A Private Affair' one of the finest novels of his generation, and its author is well regarded in his own country. This new Hesperus edition, with a fluent new translation by Howard Curtis, and an informative introduction by Paul Bailey, will bring Beppe Fenoglio to a wider audience.' --Times Literary Supplement

From the Publisher

Posthumously published in Italy in 1963 and now translated into the English language for the first time, Fenoglio’s WWII novel A Private Affair has come to be acclaimed as one of the greatest classics of twentieth-century Italian literature, and a landmark piece of World War literature.

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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A poignant, well-crafted masterpiece 12 Aug 2010
By R. M. Peterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Beppe Fenoglio is relatively unknown in the U.S. We are a trifle poorer because of that, at least to judge by A PRIVATE AFFAIR. Fenoglio, a native of Alba in the Langhe, was twenty when he joined partisan forces fighting against the German-backed Fascist troops of Mussolini in northern Italy. After WWII, Fenoglio divided his time between a conventional day job working for a wine company and writing at night. His literary work had two principal subjects: the Langhe (and its people) and the partisan warfare of 1943-1945.

Those two subjects also are at the fore in A PRIVATE AFFAIR, which was published in 1963, shortly after Fenoglio's death of lung cancer at age 40. It is short, only 140 pages, but it is an exceedingly fine novel, a masterpiece even (at least that is my initial impression). The protagonist (bearing the incongruous name of Milton) is, as Fenoglio had been, a soldier among the partisans. It is now November 1944, and he has spent a year in miserable conditions fighting a squalid war. Much of the time the enemy soldiers are fellow Italians (not Germans). Nor are the partisans united, divided as they are between "reds" (Communists) and "blues" (Bagdogliani, loyal to Marshal Bagdoglio who had deposed Mussolini and surrendered southern Italy to the invading Allies). For Milton and his comrades, it is a war of rain and mud, sleeping in cowsheds, enduring scabies, begging and scavenging for food, shivering in the rain, endless patrols, reprisals against villagers, prisoner exchanges and farmyard executions of prisoners, and yet more rain and mud.

A patrol assignment brings Milton back to the villa near Alba where his beloved Fulvia had lived before war turned normal life inside out. Milton worshipped Fulvia but whether his devotion had been reciprocated is doubtful. After a furtive conversation with the housekeeper of the villa, Milton sets out on a mission, a private affair, to find out whether or not a future with Fulvia (the only future worth living for, worth fighting for) is possible. When Milton leaves his brigade to pursue his private affair, his mission only leads him deeper into the quagmire of war. As it progresses, the novel picks up speed and momentum until it hurtles through the rain and mud to its uncertain fantastic conclusion.

Back in peace, when Milton was wooing Fulvia in his very sincere but ridiculous way, he gave her a recording of "Over the Rainbow". The first day they played it twenty-eight times. As Milton trudges off on his private affair, the words and music keep returning to him. "Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue / And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true."

A PRIVATE AFFAIR is one of the best anti-war novels I have ever read. It is poignant. It is well-crafted. It deserves to be read.
5.0 out of 5 stars The great novel of the Italian resistance appears in English 29 Nov 2013
By Experienced Audiophile - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This remains the great masterpiece of the Italian resistance against the Nazis. The hero, Milton, falls for a rich girl who has been evacuated. He visits the scene of his unrequited love, and learns from the housekeeper the rich girl was unfaithful under his nose. Milton seems to welcome death. The writing is rich, and the nuances are wonderful. In Italo Calvino's introduction to his own mediocre first novel, The Nest of Spiders, he speaks of his great regard of Fenoglio's posthumous novel. But in the English edition, some years later, envy got the better of him, and his reference was to a lesser book, and only in passing. It is a shame that this this masterpiece , a lasting contribution to modern Italian fiction, had to wait so longer for an English translator.. Fenoglio died of cancer at age 40, and his best writing was published after his death. The Ambush awaits translation. The Private Affair has been translated with accuracy and justice, It should have appeared years ago.
3.0 out of 5 stars Piemontese classic 26 Oct 2013
By Leonora Bee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While staying near Alba,decided to read this classic. I can identify with the locales mentioned. However, those not acquainted with the area and the people might find it dull reading.
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