Sunday, July 18, 2010

Italian literature recommendations

The British daily The Guardian features a lot of readers' input. They like to have fun posts soliciting people's favorites about pretty much anything. They get a lot of feedback.

Here is a (long) thread they published a few years back when they asked for recommendations in Italian literature. As Guardian readers tend to be literate and well-read (albeit a tad anti-American), it's certainly worth a look. Calvino (shown left) figures prominently, although I have never been impressed by him. But this is the strength of something like this that includes all sorts of different people as opposed to just one: you can get around the subjectivity factor. They also mention many of my favorites such as Sciascia, Eduardo De Filippo, Elsa Morante, Antonio Tabucchi and Primo Levi.

The list is woefully deficient in pre-twentieth century literature, with the obligatory references to Dante and Manzoni's The Betrothed (which I was unable to finish.) Machiavelli is mentioned just once, with no specific titles, as is the great poet Leopardi. But some readers went back too far and cited Roman authors such as Marcus Aurelius.

If you want to read these in the original, a good source would be the Italian online merchant