Discovering Italian masterpieces

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 at 1:39 PM

As Google Book Search has expanded to include more books in more languages, I've been excited to discover many masterpieces in my native Italian. If you're interested in Italian literature, here are some wonderful books by a few of my favorite authors (you can also find them in this blog's library).

Luigi Pirandello: Six Characters in Search of an Author
This is one of the best plays that this Nobel Prize winner ever wrote; I absolutely adore it! Since part of the joy is in discovery, I won't reveal any more -- you simply have to read it.

Alessandro Manzoni: I Promessi Sposi
It may often be required reading at school, but this 18th-century masterpiece is far from boring. It's the most widely read novel of the Italian language -- perhaps because it makes such good conversation over the dinner table.

Alessandro Baricco: Novecento (in Italian)
This theatrical monologue was adapted and made into a movie called The Legend of 1900, the work of Oscar-winning director Giuseppe Tornatore. (I still prefer the book!)

Niccolo Ammaniti: I'll Steal You Away
This book shows off Ammaniti's attention to detail, containing graphic descriptions. He knows how to help readers get inside the minds of his youthful characters.

Dante Alighieri: La divina Commedia – L'inferno (in Italian)
This poem is widely considered the central epic poem of Italian literature, and one of the greatest works of literature in the world. It's written in ancient Italian and can be difficult to read, but it's well worth the effort -- it's the finest piece of literature I've ever read. (If you're an English speaker and your Italian is rusty, try an English translation.)

Carlo Collodi: Pinocchio
The book that brought the character of Pinocchio to life probably needs no introduction. It was the first book that my grandfather read to me as a child. And of course, Disney made the tale of Pinocchio, together with the Talking-Cricket and the blue-haired Fairy, into an animated film, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Don't worry if you can't understand Italian; most of these books have already been translated into English. They've delighted readers around the world, and certainly enriched my life. If you're looking for a good read, you can't go wrong with this list. Enjoy.


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