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This is a very rich story of the family of Natalia Ginzburg. It is written in an unusual way. And much of the text consists in her citations of what other family members have said. It tells the story of her family in Turin, and goes up through her adult life. It is also unusual in that she does not really give her opinion of anything or anyone directly, or probe deeply into herself in any way. In the brief preface she makes it clear that she is engaged in an act of exact remembering. And she says that she has used all the names , the real names of the people in the story.
The two major characters are her parents, the father who is Jewish by origin by not by religious practice, is a scientist and engineer. He is a lover of mountaineering, and a man who seems to have no idea of how to make or deal with money. He is violently opinionated, and his outbursts are one central strand in the memoir. The mother is a different soul entirely, a happy person by nature whose best friend is Ginzburg's older sister, but who brings a tone of understanding to all her five children. The story is of the five siblings also, and their eventual careers and marriages. And it is also of the extended family. And in the latter part of the book there is a lot about anti- Fascist activity of family and friends. The work has a kind of authenticity that comes not only from the ' sayings' but from its matter- of- fact descriptive and objective tone. The problem with this, and I feel with Ginzburg's voice in the work is that it is not personally deep enough, and not somehow loving enough. But again there is a texture of great richness, a feeling that what is being described is a whole world.Read more ›
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