A founder and, until his death, an editor of the publishing house of Einaudi, Pavese also edited the anti-Fascist review La Cultura. His work led to his arrest and imprisonment by the government in 1935, an experience later recalled in “Il carcere” (published in Prima che il gallo canti, 1949; in The Political Prisoner, 1955) and the novella Il compagno (1947; The Comrade, 1959). His first volume of lyric poetry, Lavorare stanca (1936; Hard Labour, 1976), followed his release from prison. An initial novella, Paesi tuoi (1941; The Harvesters, 1961), recalled, as many of his works do, the sacred places of childhood. Between 1943 and 1945 he lived with partisans of the anti-Fascist Resistance in the hills of Piedmont.
The bulk of Pavese's work, mostly short stories and novellas, appeared between the end of the war and his death. Partly through the influence of Melville, Pavese became preoccupied with myth, symbol, and archetype. One of his most striking books is Dialoghi con Leucò (1947; Dialogues with Leucò, 1965), poetically written conversations about the human condition. The novel considered his best, La luna e i falò (1950; The Moon and the Bonfires, 1950), is a bleak, yet compassionate story of a hero who tries to find himself by visiting the place in which he grew up. Several other works are notable, especially La bella estate (1949; in The Political Prisoner, 1955). Shortly after receiving the Strega Prize for it, Pavese committed suicide in his hotel room by taking an overdose of pills.
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