Monday, October 6, 2008



Lawrence Smith

The author of this book (no relation to the editor other than friendship) is probably the longest running subscriber to the Progressive Review and all its predecessors. More significantly he is one of the few bankers you'll ever meet who has a PHd in American civilization from Harvard, taught at Harvard, and went to the University of Padua as a Fulbright scholar. Which is where he became acquainted with the works of Cesare Pavese

When he committed suicide at age forty-one, Cesare Pavese (1908 -1950) was one of Italy's best-known writers. A poet, novelist, literary critic, and translator, he had been profoundly influenced in his early years by American literature. But later he grew disaffected with American culture, coming to see it as materialistic and shallow. This book, the first full-length English-language study of Pavese in twenty years, examines his life and the evolution of his views of America.

As an adolescent and young man, Pavese immersed himself in American literature, especially that of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1930, at the height of Italian Fascism's popularity, he wrote a thesis on the most democratic of America's poets, Walt Whitman. He then supported himself by translating American fiction, most importantly Moby Dick, and by writing essays on American authors. Pavese saw American writers, especially Whitman and Herman Melville, not only as literary exemplars but as models of manhood, guides to ways of living that he did not find in the restricted, conformist world of Mussolini's Italy. His translations and essays represented sly acts of political and linguistic subversion but also markers of his personal and artistic self-realization.

Pavese consolidated his position in Italian letters during the five years after World War II. His finest novel, The House on the Hill, appeared in 1948, and his last and most famous, The Moon and the Bonfires, in 1950. In this same period, however, he joined the Italian Communist Party and publicly attacked America for the sterility of its culture.

Smith illuminates Pavese's life and also his tragic death, precipitated by a brief failed love affair with Constance Dowling, an American movie actress fifteen years his junior. Although he barely knew Dowling, her departure from Italy in April 1950 triggered Pavese's long-latent suicidal impulses, and he killed himself four months later.



Poets For Palestine
is a mix of poetry, spoken work, hip hop, and Palestinian art. The book features numerous award-winning poets from various ethnic and religious backgrounds as well as several emerging voices from the spoken word and hip hop community. The poets include Mahmoud Darwish, Amiri Baraka, Naomi Shihab Nye, Patricia Smith, Suheir Hammad, Marilyn Hacker, Nathalie Handal, E. Ethelbert Miller, Alicia Ostriker, Kathy Engel, Sholeh Wolpe, Ibtisam Barakat, Hayan Charara, Melissa Hotchkiss, Fady Joudah and many more.

Sixty years after the dispossession of the Palestinian people, this anthology presents forty-eight poems alongside original works by Palestinian artists. All proceeds from the sale of this collection will go toward funding future cultural projects that highlight Arab artistry in the United States.



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