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Conversations In Sicily [Paperback]

Elio Vittorini
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 20 Mar 2003 --  

Book Description

20 Mar 2003
Particularly reminiscent of Knut Hamsun's great novel Hunger, Conversations in Sicily is a strange, paradoxical work that echoes the existentialist concerns of Camus' fiction while capturing vividly the heat and sounds and smells of southern Italy. The novel begins at a time in the unnamed narrator's life when nothing seems to matter. He is filled with a deep sense of ennui and feels disconnected from all that surrounds him. That is until he embarks on a journey to Sicily, the home he has not seen in some fifteen years. Alane Mason's new translation succeeds wonderfully in bringing this evocative and brilliant novel alive. It is a superb work of fiction, one of the great novels of anti-fascism and a book that is sure to astound contemporary readers for its modernity, lyricism, originality and freshness

Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books (20 Mar 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841953881
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841953885
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,829,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Superbly written ... Vittorini's unique prose laps against one in repetitious wavelets, alive to the rhythm and significance of language in a way more common to poetry than to prose.

Praised in the past by writers like Ernest Hemingway and Italo Calvino, this new translation by Alane Mason restores a paint-fresh vividness to a classic novel, too-little known in the English speaking world.

(Wayne Burrows)

Vittorini is one of the very best . . . I care very much about his ability to bring rain with him when he comes, if the earth is dry and that is what you need. (Ernest Hemingway)

It is very hard to give any adequate sense of [its] power, rendered in lucid, supple lines of almost Homeric simplicity whose cadences are faithfully captured in this excellent new translation (Guardian)

An extraordinary book ... For anyone interested in memory and place, the loss of the past and the attempt to recover it in words, this book will be rewarding ... giving the reader an experience that is vividly new, yet strangely familiar (Kirsty Gunn) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Vividly capturing the heat, sounds and smells of southern Italy, Conversations in Sicily astounds with its modernity, lyricism and originality --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately unsatisfying 30 Sep 2011
Silvestro hears from his father that he has left his mother and suggests Silvestro visits her - after an absence of some 15 years. 'Conversations' follow with those he meets on the journey and at his destination. In parts this novel is beautifully descriptive. In others it is numbingly repetitive. Is it allegorical? If so, I'm afraid this was lost on me. Far from being the 'masterpiece' claimed I found it hard going and ultimately unsatisfying.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars well worth reading 10 Mar 2011
I really liked this short book. It is a mixture of straightforward narrative, dream-like experiences and poetic symbolism.

The narrator is a Sicilian who left home at the age of fifteen and now, at the age of thirty, returns to pay his mother a visit. The evocation of his journey and the description of his experiences at his mother's village enable him not only to understand more about himself and his childhood, but also to express his criticism of fascism and war. I would definitely re-read this book, as I am sure it would reveal more of its meaning on a second reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary 10 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very odd but marvelous book, set deep in the poverty of the Sicilian peasantry, seemingly a conventional narrative but as it develops the world becomes stranger and more and more mythical.
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