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Cesare Pavese
Italian novelist, poet and critic
(1908-50)



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For some time my friend Doro and I had agreed that I would be his guest. I was very fond of Doro, and when he married and went to Genoa to live, I was half sick over it. When I wrote to refuse his invitation to the wedding, I got a dry and rather haughty note replying that if his money wasn't good for establishing himself in a city that pleased his wife, he didn't know what it was good for. Then, one fine day as I was passing through Genoa I stopped at his house and we made peace. I liked his wife very much, a tomboy type who graciously asked me to call her Clelia and left us alone as much as she should, and when she showed up again in the evening to go out with us, she had become a charming woman whose hand I would have kissed had I been anyone else but myself.
-- Opening words of The Beach (1940)

I was happy enough; I knew that during the night the whole city might go up in flames and all its people be killed, but the ravines, houses, and footpaths would wake in the morning calm and unchanged.
-- The House on the Hill (1949), Chapter 1

The courage to stand alone as if others didn't exist and think only of what you're doing. Not to get scared if people ignore you. You have to wait for years, have to die. Then after you're dead, if you're lucky, you become somebody.
-- The House on the Hill (1949), Chapter 8

But she didn't laugh. "When you have children," she said, staring at her
glass, "you accept life. Do you accept life?"
-- Among Women Only (1949), Chapter 9

We were very young. I don't think I ever slept that year, but I had a friend who slept even less than I did. Some mornings you could see him strolling up and down in front of the station when the first trains were arriving and leaving.
-- Opening words of The Devil in the Hills (1949)

There's nothing that tastes of death more than the summer sun, the powerful light, exuberant nature. You sniff the air and listen to the woods and know that the plants and animals don't give a damn about you. Everything lives and consumes itself. Nature is death...
-- The Devil in the Hills (1949), Chapter 7

That you need a village, if only for the pleasure of leaving it. Your own village means that you're not alone, that you know there's something of you in the people and the plants and the soil, that even when you are not there it waits to welcome you.
-- The Moon and the Bonfire (1950), Chapter I

When a man mourns for someone who has played him false, it is not for love of her, but for his own humiliation at not having deserved her
trust.
-- The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950 (1952)

I spent the whole evening sitting before a mirror to keep myself company.
-- The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950 (1952)

We do not remember days, we remember moments.
-- The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950 (1952)

One stops being a child when one realizes telling one's trouble does not make it better.
-- The Business of Living: A Diary 1935-1950 (1952)

Many men on the point of an edifying death would be furious if they were suddenly restored to health.
-- Attributed (Quoted in: The Faber Book of Aphorisms)


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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