The Little Virtues, by Natalia Ginzburg. Book report #19* (2017)

The Little Virtues, by Natalia Ginzburg. Pub 1962, this translation 1985.

I became interested in reading this book after reading this review. I’ve had the book in my tsundoku for nearly a year, and brought this slim volume along for my recent holiday. As a book, it did not live up to the effusive praise of the review, but several of the pieces are real gems and worth reading, especially the essays in Part 1, and the title piece “The Little Virtues”. I do think that perhaps some of the elegance of the phrasing is lost in translation, as some of the essays are very clunky and a real slog to get through (especially “Human Relationships”). But the ones that are good really sing. I especially liked “Worn-Out Shoes”, “La Maison Volpe” (a funny piece from 1960 bemoaning the miserable London restaurant scene), and “The Son of Man” (from 1946, about the abyss between generations due to the horrors of war), as well as the title piece with its wonderful words of wisdom.

6. A non-fiction book
8. A book by a female author
10. A book of non-fiction essays
13. A book set somewhere you’ve never been (most of the book is “set” in Italy)
19. A book you can finish in a day
21. A book translated from (or in) another language
26. A book by an author whom I’ve never read

*I’ve determined that I cannot meet my overall list goal without dropping one of the “books I’ve already read” from the list, so sadly A Prayer for Owen Meany will no longer count in my list for the year.

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