Cesare Pavese

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Cesare Pavese (born September 9, 1908 in Santo Stefano Belbo , † August 27, 1950 in Turin ) was an Italian writer.


Pavese spent his childhood in Santo Stefano Belbo, a small village in the Langhe (province of Cuneo). In 1914 his father died of a brain tumor.

Cesare Pavese spent most of his youth in Turin, where he first graduated from the Liceo Massimo d'Azeglio . At the Liceo he met Augusto Monti , his teacher and later friend. Through this connection he made early contacts with anti-fascist circles and learned a. a. Leone Ginzburg and Piero Gobetti know. In 1927 he began studying literary history in Turin and graduated in 1930 with a doctorate on the American poet Walt Whitman . After graduation, an intensive phase of writing and translation began. He has translated Moby Dick by Herman Melville and works by John Dos Passos , William Faulkner , Sherwood Anderson , Sinclair Lewis , Daniel Defoe , James Joyce and Charles Dickens into Italian. From 1930 Pavese wrote articles on American literature for La Cultura magazine . In 1934 he took over the position of Ginzburg in the editorial office of La Cultura , as this and other members of the anti-fascist group Giustizia e Libertà had been arrested.

The poems that appeared in 1936 under the title Lavorare stanca were composed from 1928 to 1935 . In 1935 he was arrested because of his primarily aesthetically motivated anti-fascist attitude and banished to Brancaleone in Calabria for eight months . During this time he also began the literary-existentialist diary Das Handwerk des Lebens ( Il mestiere di vivere ), which he continued until his death. From 1938 he worked as a permanent employee for the Turin publishing house Einaudi and in 1943 took over the management of the Roman branch of the publishing house.

During the Second World War he withdrew to the country with his sister's family. He made friends with the young writer Italo Calvino and was the first to read his works as his editor . Later, the now famous Calvino referred to him as "my ideal reader". After the war he moved first to Serralunga di Crea , later to Rome , Milan and finally to Turin. In 1945 he joined the Communist Party of Italy ( PCI ). Pavese won the Premio Strega literary prize for The Beautiful Summer ( La bella estate ) in 1950 . In sensitive stories and short novels, he has described the village world of Piedmont , among other things .

On the night of August 27-28, 1950, Cesare Pavese committed suicide using barbiturates in a hotel room in Turin .


Cesare Pavese remained connected to the scene of his childhood, the place Santo Stefano Belbo, which can be seen in his work in the dialectics of childhood and growing up as well as rural and urban life. These motifs, as well as the aspect that for Pavese, home is an innate, original identity, have a major impact on his life and work. In the novel Paesi tuoi (1941), Pavese's first important narrative work, the clash between town and country typical of Pavese, which appeared in the poetry collection Lavorare stanca (1936), is discussed . He contrasts the natural rural life and that in the city, which seems frightening and exhausting. The rural is endowed with symbols of an archaic and mythical world. Il diavolo sulle colline illustrates urban and rural life on the basis of three young people who grow up in the milieus and landscapes of Turin.

Another aspect of his work is the problematic relationship with women. After several disappointing experiences, he feels the relationship with women and the life together with them increasingly unbearable and traces this feeling and his image of women in his stories and novels. The story Viaggio di nozze ( Honeymoon ) is an example of the impossibility of human coexistence . The subject of the story is the problematic relationship between a young married couple, as the man fails to find a way out of his egocentric isolation to find his wife. A sentence from his diary, written in September 1946, is indicative of this: “They are a hostile people, the women - like the German people.” Pavese considered himself to be potency-sick.


"Love is a crisis that leaves aversion."

- Cesare Pavese


Selected Works

Cesare Paveses signature


  • The dungeon ( Il carcere , 1938)
  • The beautiful summer ( La bella estate , 1940)
  • Among peasants ( Paesi tuoi , 1941)
  • On the beach ( La Spiaggia , 1942)
  • The house on the heights, also: The house on the hill ( La casa in collina , 1948)
  • Feria d'agosto (1945)
  • The Comrade ( Il compagno , 1947)
  • Conversations with Leuko ( Dialoghi con Leucò , 1947)
  • The devil on the hills ( Il diavolo sulle colline , 1948)
  • The lonely women ( Tra donne sole , 1949)
  • Young moon, also: The moon and the fire ( La luna ei falò , 1950)
  • The craft of living (Diary 1935–1950; Il mestiere di vivere , 1952)
  • The Complete Tales ( Racconti , 1960)
    • The meadow of the dead
  • Ciau Masino (posthumously 1968)
  • Other days, other games


  • Lavorare stanca (1936)
  • La terra e la morte (1947)
  • Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi tatting (1951)
  • Hunger for Solitude - The Complete Poems
  • The Complete Poems (Düsseldorf 1988, ISBN 3-546-47406-6 )


  • Il mestiere del poeta (1934)
  • A proposito di certe poetry non ancora scritte (1940)
  • Il mito (1950)

Film adaptations

  • 1955 - The girlfriends ( corpse )
  • 1960 - Sweet Desire ( I dolci inganni )
  • 1978 - Fiori d'Autunno
  • 1978 - From the cloud to the resistance ( Dalla nuba alla resistenza )
  • 1978 - From the cloud to the resistance ( Dalla nuba alla resistenza )
  • 1985 - The devil on the hills . TV film by Vittorio Cottafavi
  • 2006 - Those their encounters ( Quei loro incontri )


  • Maike Albath : The spirit of Turin. Pavese, Ginzburg, Einaudi and the rebirth of Italy after 1943. Berenberg, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-937834-37-5 .
  • Heinz Ludwig Arnold : Cesare Pavese (= text and criticism. Volume 17). Georgi, Aachen 1967.
  • Natalia Ginzburg : Portrait of a friend (approx. 10 pages, written 1957). In: Dies: The Little Virtues. Wagenbach, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-8031-3160-X .
  • Johannes Hösle: Cesare Pavese. 2nd, revised and expanded edition. de Gruyter, Berlin 1964.
  • Erika Kanduth: Cesare Pavese in the context of pessimistic Italian literature. Braumüller, Vienna 1971, ISBN 3-7003-0001-8 .
  • Davide Lajolo: Cadence of Suffering. Life and work of Cesare Pavese. Claassen, Hamburg 1964.
  • Manfred Lentzen: Italian poetry of the 20th century. From the avant-garde of the first decades to a new inwardness. (= Analecta Romanica. Issue 53). Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1994, ISBN 3-465-02654-3 , pp. 220-236.
  • Verena Lenzen : Suicide. A philosophical-theological discourse with a case study on Cesare Pavese. Patmos, Düsseldorf 1987, ISBN 3-491-77688-0 .
  • Verena Lenzen: Cesare Pavese. Lethality in existence and poetry. A portrait . Piper Verlag, Munich 1989.
  • Dietrich Schlumbohm: The world as a construction. Studies on the prose work Cesare Paveses. Fink, Munich 1978, ISBN 3-7705-1349-5 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Cf. the entries of 09/27/37 and 12/25/37 in Paveses diaries "Il Mestiere di vivere", Turin 1990.
  2. Markus M. Ronner: The best punchlines of the 20th century: Humorous-satirical flashes of inspiration, sorted alphabetically by keywords. Gondrom, Stuttgart 1990.
  3. ^ Review of "Der Genosse" at versalia.de
  4. Review "Conversations with Leuko" at versalia.de
  5. Appears as an object in Travelers on a Leg (1989) by Herta Müller ("Switch on the light, next to the door / On the table was a book: The devil on the hills. / The drunk man tore the window open." . 12); Müller chose a modification of Pavese's first sentence as the motto for her work: “We were still very young” (Pavese); "But I was no longer young." (Müller)