Giovanni Verga: Stories of Sicily

Giovanni-VergaGiovanni Carmelo Verga (2 September 1840 – 27 January 1922) was an Italian realist (Verismo) writer, best known for his depictions of life in his native Sicily, and especially for the short story (and later play) Cavalleria Rusticana and the novel I Malavoglia (The House by the Medlar Tree).
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Sicilian Stories: A Dual-Language Book (Dover Dual Language Italian) (Paperback)

With his novels, short stories, and plays, Giovanni Verga (1840–1922) achieved renown in the Italian verismo (realist) school of writing. This outstanding selection of 12 short stories — most from the Sicilian writer’s Vita dei campi (Rural Life) and Novelle rusticane (Rustic Stories) — attests to his storytelling skills.
Selections include “Nedda,” a short story that initiated Verga’s naturalistic depictions of Sicilian peasant life; the much-celebrated “Cavalleria Rusticana” (Rustic Chivalry), a tale of flirtation, jealousy, and a deadly duel; and “L’amante di Gramigna” (Gramigna’s Mistress), a fascinating psychological study. The collection also features “Reverie,” “Jeli the Herdsman,” “Nasty Redhead,” “The She-Wolf,” “Pestilential Air,” “Possessions,” “The History of St. Joseph’s Donkey,” “Dark Bread,” and “Liberty.”
For this dual-language book, the editor has provided excellent new English translations on pages facing the original Italian text, as well as an informative Introduction and notes.

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Cavalleria Rusticana and Other Stories (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)

The stories of Giovanni Verga (1840-1922) are wonderful evocations of ordinary Italian life, focusing in particular on his native Sicily. In an original and dynamic prose style, he portrays such eternal human themes as love, honour and adultery with rich and colourful language. The inspiration for Mascagni’s opera, ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’ depicts a young man’s triumphal return home from the army, spoilt when he learns that his beloved is engaged to another man. Verga’s acute awareness of the hardships and aspirations of peasant life can be seen in stories such as ‘Nedda’, ‘Picturesque Lives’ and ‘Black Bread’, while others such as ‘The Reverend’ and ‘Don Licciu Papa’ show the dominance of the church and the law in the Sicilian communities he portrays so vividly.

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The House by the Medlar Tree (Paperback)

Giovanni Verga (1840-1922) is the most important of the Italian Realist School of novelists. This new edition of The House by the Medlar Tree (I Malavoglia) makes the complete English version of his masterpiece available once more. The story of the Malavoglia, a family of poor Sicilian fisherman, is Verga’s moving rendering of the theme of mankind’s struggle for self-betterment, the dignity of the struggle in the face of poverty and hardship, and the tragedy that the struggle inevitably incurs.

D. H. Lawrence described Vega’s work as “Homeric.” Rayond Rosenthal’s translation of I Malavoglia is the only complete version of this novel in English and conveys Vega’s lyrical realism and the flavor of Sicialian village life superbly.

The book is introduced by Giovanni Ceccheti, whose own translations of Verga, Mastro-don Gesualdo and The She-Wolf and Other Stories, are also available from California.


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Sparrow : A Novel (Paperback)

Set in and around Catania, Sicily, on the verge of the Italian Risorgimento, “Sparrow,” first published as “Storia di una capinera” in 1870, tells the story of Maria, the daughter of a low-level bureaucrat, like so many other young women of the time, forced into the convent by economic and social forces. After a brief – and almost imaginary – flirtation with the son of neighbors forced together with her family during a cholera epidemic, Maria is sent back into the convent, there to go from disappointed love, to broken health, madness, and death. Verga creates a tour-de-force of emotional intensity that represents one of the late flowerings of the Romantic movement and opens the door to the Realism of the late nineteenth century. Deeply emotional in its revelation, yet bitterly ironic in its criticism of Bourbon Italy’s oppression of women, Sparrow still has the capacity to fascinate and outrage while it delights the reader with the bravado of Verga’s fictional constructions.

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Mastro Don Gesualdo (European Classics) (Paperback)

On the face of things, Mastro Don Gesualdo is a success. Born a peasant but a man’ with an eye for everything going’, he becomes one of the richest men in Sicily, marrying an aristocrat with his daughter destined, in time, to wed a duke. But Gesualdo falls foul of the rigid class structure of mid-19th century Sicily. His title Mastro Don, ‘Worker Gentleman’, is ironic in itself. Peasants and gentry alike resent his extraordinary success. And when the pattern of society is threatened by revolt, Gesualdo is the rebels’ first target.

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Life in the Country (Hesperus Classics) (Paperback)

In this richly colorful collection of stories, a masterwork of Naturalistic writing, Giovanni Verga attempts to capture the very essence of Sicilian life. A licentious woman coerces her son-in-law into agreeing to an illicit affair; a young boy, forced to work down in a mine to make a living, is robbed of his childhood and ultimately his life; a returning soldier toys with the affections of local girls and unleashes a sea of passion and vengeance from the village folk—read together, these stories form a remarkable chronicle of Sicilian country life in all its harsh reality. Giovanni Verga is Italy’s foremost Naturalist writer; he is best remembered for The House by the Medlar Tree, his saga of a family of Sicilian fishermen.

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SHORT SICILIAN NOVELS (Dedalus European Classics) (Paperback)

Book by Giovanni Verga

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