Voices in the Evening by Natalia Ginzburg

★★★☆☆ (3/5)

A selection of my favourite passages from the book

  • If one does not go about and show oneself, people say that such a person is giving himself airs, and they don’t seek one out any more.
  • He would answer the simplest questions with confused and rambling explanations which faded away slowly on the sad wave of that burr.
  • ‘Happiness,’ he said, ‘always seems nothing. It is like water; one only realizes it when it has run away.’
  • She said that all Balotta’s children, for one thing or another, dead or alive, had always had eccentric ideas and had brought trouble on themselves.

  • ‘In the village,’ he said, I don’t feel free. Everything weighs on me.’ ‘What weighs on you?” ‘Everything weighs on me,’ he said, ‘everything— Putillo, the factory, Gemmina, and even the dead. Even the dead—do you understand?—weigh on me. ‘Some day or other,’ he said, ‘I shall pack it up and go away.’
  • ‘You have told this story to me millions of times,’ said my father. ‘Why do you want to bother Tommasino with it, with persons he has never seen and never will see?’
  • ‘I do not,’ I said, ‘put you away from me. I keep you there among my things. If I did not, there are times when I could not put up with my picture frame.’ ‘You put up with it,’ he said, ‘before l existed for you.’ ‘Yes, I did,’ said. ‘It irked me, but I put up with it. But I did not know then that life could have another pace. I imagined one vaguely, but I did not know.’
  • What I think about now, I tell a little of it to myself, and then I bury it, I send it underground. Then, little by little, I shall not tell things any more even to myself, I shall drive everything underground at once, every random thought, before it can take shape.
  • And when one sees the things of the future so clearly as though they were already happening, it is a sign that they should never happen. They have already happened in a sense in our minds, and it is really not possible to experience them further.
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