These days, many Italian (female) authors seem to be discovered or re-discovered thanks to the “Elena Ferrante effect”. We couldn’t imagine two authors more different than Ferrante and Natalia Ginzburg, but, regardless of the reasons, we are happy for the recent rediscovery of Ginzburg’s seminal work in the English-speaking world, where her books are having a period of new popularity.
Little Virtues is something between a collection of short stories and a collection of personal essays; one of our favourite pieces in the book is ‘He and I’, a delicately ironic recount of the author’s life with her second husband, Gabriele Baldini, who was also a writer. The piece is at times funny, at times melancholic; it is a quintessential example of Ginzburg’s distinctive voice, intimate and intelligent, graceful and deep, and able to observe everyday life and human relationships from an astonishingly original perspective.
First published in Le piccole virtù, Einaudi, 1962 / The Little Virtues, Daunt Books, 2018