Natalia Ginzburg and President Sandro Pertini, early 1980s
14 July 1916
|Died||7 October 1991 (aged 75)|
|Pen name||Alessandra Tornimparte|
|Alma mater||University of Turin|
|Genres||novels, short stories, essays|
|Notable works||Family Sayings|
(m. 1938; died 1944)
|Relatives||Giuseppe Levi (father)|
Natalia Levi Ginzburg
|Deputy of the Italian Republic|
|Political party||Italian Communist Party|
Natalia Ginzburg (Italian: [nataˈliːa ˈɡintsburɡ], German: [ˈɡɪntsbʊʁk]; née Levi; 14 July 1916 – 7 October 1991), was an Italian author whose work explored family relationships, politics during and after the Fascist years and World War II, and philosophy. She wrote novels, short stories and essays, for which she received the Strega Prize and Bagutta Prize. Most of her works were also translated into English and published in the United Kingdom and United States.
Early life and education
Born in Palermo, Sicily in 1916, Ginzburg spent most of her youth in Turin with her family, as her father in 1919 took a position with the University of Turin. Her father, Giuseppe Levi, a renowned Italian histologist, was born into a Jewish Italian family, and her mother, Lidia Tanzi, was Catholic. Her parents were secular and raised Natalia, her sister Paola (who would marry Adriano Olivetti) and her three brothers as atheists. Their home was a center of cultural life, as her parents invited intellectuals, activists and industrialists. At age 17 in 1933, Ginzburg published her first story, I bambini, in the magazine Solaria.
Marriage and family
Although Natalia Ginzburg was able to live relatively free of harassment during World War II, her husband Leone was sent into internal exile because of his anti-Fascist activities, assigned from 1941–1943 to a village in Abruzzo. She and their children lived most of the time with him.
Opponents of the Fascist regime, she and her husband secretly went to Rome and edited an anti-Fascist newspaper, until Leone Ginzburg was arrested. He died in 1944 after suffering severe torture, including crucifixion, in jail.
In 1950, Ginzburg married again, to Gabriele Baldini, a scholar of English literature. They lived in Rome. He died in 1969.
After her marriage, she used the name "Natalia Ginzburg" (occasionally spelled "Ginzberg") on most subsequent publications. Her first novel was published under the pseudonym "Alessandra Tornimparte" in 1942, during Fascist Italy's most anti-Semitic period, when Jews were banned from publishing.
Ginzburg spent much of the 1940s working for the publisher Einaudi in Turin in addition to her creative writing. They published some of the leading figures of postwar Italy, including Carlo Levi, Primo Levi, Cesare Pavese and Italo Calvino. Ginzburg's second novel was published in 1947.
The experiences that she and her husband had during the war altered her perception of her identification as a Jew. She thought deeply about the questions aroused by the war and the Holocaust, dealing with them in fiction and essays. She became supportive of Catholicism, arousing controversy among her circle, because she believed that Christ was a persecuted Jew. She opposed the removal of crucifixes in public buildings but her purported conversion to Catholicism is controversial and most sources still consider her an "atheist Jewess".
Beginning in 1950, when Ginzburg married again and moved to Rome, she entered the most prolific period of her literary career. During the next 20 years, she published most of the works for which she is best known. She and Baldini were deeply involved in the cultural life of the city.
Ginzburg was politically involved throughout her life as an activist and polemicist. Like many prominent anti-Fascists, for a time she belonged to the Italian Communist Party. She was elected to the Italian Parliament as an Independent in 1983.
Legacy and honors
- 1952, Veillon International Prize for Tutti i nostri ieri
- 1963, Strega Prize for Lessico famigliare
- 1984, Bagutta Prize for La famiglia Manzoni
- 1991, Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Novels and short stories
- La strada che va in città (1942) (The Road to the City, transl. Frances Frenaye (1949)) - first published under the name Alessandra Tornimparte
- È stato così (1947) (The Dry Heart, transl. Frances Frenaye (1949))
- Tutti i nostri ieri (1952) (A Light for Fools / All Our Yesterdays, transl. Angus Davidson (1985))
- Valentino (1957) (Valentino, transl. Avril Bardoni (1987))
- Sagittario (1957) (Sagittarius, transl. Avril Bardoni, (1987))
- Le voci della sera (1961) (Voices in the Evening, transl. D.M.Low (1963))
- Lessico famigliare (1963) (Family Sayings, transl. D.M.Low (1963); The Things We Used to Say, transl. Judith Woolf (1977); Family Lexicon, transl. Jenny McPhee (2017))
- Caro Michele (1973) (No Way, transl. Sheila Cudahy (1974); Dear Michael, transl. Sheila Cudahy (1975)) - inspired the film Caro Michele (1976); (Happiness, As Such, transl.Minna Zallman Proctor )
- Famiglia (1977) (Family, transl. Beryl Stockman (1988))
- La famiglia Manzoni (1983) (The Manzoni Family, transl. Marie Evans (1987))
- La città e la casa (1984) (The City and the House, transl. Dick Davis (1986))
- Le piccole virtù (1962) (The Little Virtues, transl. Dick Davis (1985))
- Mai devi domandarmi (1970) (Never Must You Ask Me, transl. Isabel Quigly (1970)) - mostly articles published in La Stampa between 1968-1979
- Vita immaginaria (1974) (A Place to Live: And Other Selected Essays, transl. Lynne Sharon Schwartz (2002))
- Serena Cruz o la vera giustizia (1990) (Serena Cruz, or The Meaning of True Justice, transl. Lynn Sharon Schwartz (2002))
- È difficile parlare di sé (1999) (It's Hard to Talk About Yourself, transl. Louise Quirke (2003))
- Ti ho sposato per allegria (1966) (I Married You for Fun, transl. Henry Reed (1969); I Married You to Cheer Myself Up, transl. Wendell Ricketts (2008))
- Fragola e panna (1966) (The Strawberry Ice, transl. Henry Reed (1973); Strawberry and Cream, transl. Wendell Ricketts (2008))
- La segretaria (1967) (The Secretary, transl. Wendell Ricketts (2008))
- L'inserzione (1968) (The Advertisement, transl. Henry Reed (1968)) - performed at the Old Vic, London, directed by Sir Laurence Olivier and starring Joan Plowright, in 1968.
- Mai devi domandarmi (1970) (Never Must You Ask Me, transl. Isabel Quigly (1973))
- La porta sbagliata (1968) (The Wrong Door, transl. Wendell Ricketts (2008))
- Paese di mare (1968) (A Town by the Sea, transl. Wendell Ricketts (2008))
- Dialogo (1970) (Duologue, transl. Henry Reed (1977); Dialogue, transl. Wendell Ricketts (2008))
- La parrucca (1973) (The Wig, transl. Henry Reed (1976); Jen Wienstein (2000); Wendell Ricketts (2008))
- L'intervista (1988) (The Interview, transl. Wendell Ricketts (2008))
- "Natalia Ginzburg, JWA Encyclopedia
- "Natalia Ginzburg, E-Notes
- Liukkonen, Petri. "Natalia Ginzburg". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 1 September 2006.
- Griliches, Zvi (2010). Max Michelson (ed.). The Griliches Family History.
- Castronuovo, Nadia (2010), Natalia Ginzburg : Jewishness as Moral Identity, Troubador Publishing UK, ISBN 978-1-84876-396-8
- Cantone, Umberto (4 December 2016). "Memoria e famiglia di Natalia Ginzburg" [Natalia Ginzburg's Memory and Family]. La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 19 July 2020.
- Ginzburg, Natalia. "Biography".
- Ginzburg, Natalia. "Biography".
- "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter G" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
- Giffuni, Cathe (June 1993). "A Bibliography of the Writings of Natalia Ginzburg". Bulletin of Bibliography. 50 (2). pp. 139–144.
- Akshay Ahuja, Review of The Little Virtues, The Occasional Review blog
- Acobas, Patrizia, "Natalia Ginzburg." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 27, 2016)