Cesare Pavese

(9 September 1908 – 27 August 1950 / Santo Stefano Belbo)

Quotations

  • ''Will power is only the tensile strength of one's own disposition. One cannot increase it by a single ounce.''
    Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), Italian poet, novelist, translator. The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950, entry for Jan. 15, 1938 (1952, trans. 1961).
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  • ''Literature is a defense against the attacks of life. It says to life: "You can't deceive me. I know your habits, foresee and enjoy watching all your reactions, and steal your secret by involving you in cunning obstructions that halt your normal flow."''
    Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), Italian poet, novelist, translator. The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950, entry for May 5, 1936 (1952, trans. 1961).
  • ''If it were possible to have a life absolutely free from every feeling of sin, what a terrifying vacuum it would be!''
    Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), Italian poet, novelist, translator. The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950, entry for March 17, 1940 (1952, trans. 1961).
  • ''One does not kill oneself for love of a woman, but because love—any love—reveals us in our nakedness, our misery, our vulnerability, our nothingness.''
    Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), Italian poet, novelist, translator. The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950, entry for March 25, 1950 (1952, trans. 1961). See also Pavese's comment under "suicide."
  • ''No one ever lacks a good reason for suicide.''
    Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), Italian poet, novelist, translator. Journal entry, March 23, 1938. The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950 (1950, trans. 1961). Suicide was a continuing theme in Pavese's diaries; he took his own life on Aug. 27, 1950, shortly after being awarded the Strega Prize for literature.
  • ''A man is never completely alone in this world. At the worst, he has the company of a boy, a youth, and by and by a grown man—the one he used to be.''
    Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), Italian poet, novelist, translator. The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950, Winter 1941-1942 entry (1952, trans. 1961).
  • ''Suffering is by no means a privilege, a sign of nobility, a reminder of God. Suffering is a fierce, bestial thing, commonplace, uncalled for, natural as air. It is intangible; no one can grasp it or fight against it; it dwells in time—is the same thing as time; if it comes in fits and starts, that is only so as to leave the sufferer more defenseless during the moments that follow, those long moments when one relives the last bout of torture and waits for the next.''
    Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), Italian poet, novelist, translator. The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950, entry for Oct. 30, 1940 (1952, trans. 1961).
  • ''Love is the cheapest of religions.''
    Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), Italian poet, novelist, translator. The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950, entry for December 21, 1939 (1952, trans. 1961).
  • ''Reality is a prison, where ... one vegetates and always will. All the rest—thought, action—is just a pastime, mental or physical. What counts then, is to come to grips with reality. The rest can go.''
    Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), Italian poet, novelist, translator. The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950, entry for Dec. 28, 1936 (1952, trans. 1961).
  • ''To choose a hardship for ourselves is our only defence against that hardship. This is what is meant by accepting suffering.... Those who, by their very nature, can suffer completely, utterly, have an advantage. That is how we can disarm the power of suffering, make it our own creation, our own choice; submit to it. A justification for suicide.''
    Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), Italian poet, novelist, translator. The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950, entry for Nov. 10, 1938 (1952, trans. 1961). Suicide was a continuing theme in Pavese's diaries; he took his own life on Aug. 27, 1950, shortly after being awarded the Strega Prize for Literature.

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The Cats will Know

Again the rain will fall
on the sweet pavements,
a light rain
like a breath or a footstep.
Again the breeze and the dawn
will blossom lightly
beneath your footstep
as you reenter.
Among flowers and sills

[Hata Bildir]