On June 23rd, 1950, Pavese, Italy's greatest modern writer received the coveted Strega Award for his novel Among Women Only. On August 26th, in a small hotel in his home town of Turin, he took his own life. Shortly before his death, he methodically destroyed all his private papers. His diary is all that remains and for this the contemporary reader can be grateful.
Contemporary speculation attributed this tragedy to either an unhappy love aff air with the American film star Constance Dawling or his growing disillusionment with the Italian Communist Party. His Diaries, however, reveal a man whose art was his only means of repressing the specter of suicide which had haunted him since childhood: an obsession that fi nally overwhelmed him.
As John Taylor notes, he possessed something much more precious than a political theory: a natural sensitivity to the plight and dignity of common people, be they bums, priests, grape-pickers, gas station attendants, offi ce workers, or anonymous girls picked up on the street (though to women, the author could--as he admitted--be as misogynous as he was aff ectionate). Bitter and incisive, This Business of Living, is both moving and painful to read and stands with James Joyce's Letters and Andre Gide's Journals as one of the great literary testaments of the twentieth century.
Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), was educated in Turin. In 1930 he began to contribute essays on American literature to La Cultura, of which he later became editor. In 1935 he was imprisoned for anti-fascist activities. This experience formed the basis of The Political Prisoner. Between 1936 and 1940 nine of his books were published in Italy, these included novels, short stories, poetry and essays. His books have been fi lmed and dramatized, and translated into many languages.
John Taylor, a frequent contributor to the Times Literary Supplement, Context, the Yale Review, the Antioch Review, the Michigan Quarterly Review, and Chelsea, has introduced numerous European writers and poets to English readers, often for the first time. Some of his works include The Apocalypse Tapestries, Paths to Contemporary French Literature (Volumes 1 and 2) and Into the Heart of European Poetry.