Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cesare Pavese and Constance Dowling

Last night I was watching a 40's film noir when I remembered that one of the actresses was involved in an unhappy way with writer Cesare Pavese, who later committed suicide, ostensibly because of her rejection. The movie was Black angel, and Constance Dowling plays a minor role as a serial blackmailer in LA who not too surprisingly gets bumped off.

Dowling later moved to Italy and got involved with Pavese. He wrote a very good poem with the chilling title Verra' la morte e avra' i tuoi occhi (death will come and it will have your eyes), which foreshadowed his suicide. You can find the original here and the translation by Geoffrey Brock here.

Pavese was a highly talented man who wrote memorable fiction, poetry, translated (including Moby Dick, and I've wanted to see this translation forever, but can't get my hands on it), and was instrumental in introducing American literature to Italy. His fiction, influenced by American writers, should not be difficult for advanced students of Italian. I personally found his diary, called Il mestiere di vivere, one of the most memorable books I've ever read.