Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Devil in the Hills by Cesare Pavese

The Devil In The Hills is set in Pavese's native Piedmont, the jacket notes mention that much of the narrative is drawn upon the autobiographical, the novel originally appeared as Il diavolo sulle colline and was translated by D. D Paige, this is an older hardback edition published by Peter Owen. The narrative of the novel follows Oreste, Pieretto, Poli and the narrator who remains nameless, caught in various transitional stages and environments of their lives, they seem to want to escape the ennui of the city, which here is Turin, and also the stagnancy of the countryside, that said there are many discussions over which of the two is the better, the narrator seems to envisage an arcadian life in the country which seems to come to the fore during a visit to Oreste's family home rooted in the rural landscape, Pavese's prose often capture's the physicality of their existence, the revelling in the nude sunbathing.

Appearing to be the antithesis to Pieretto, Oreste and the narrator is Poli, who perhaps is identifiable as the devil of the novel's title, born into a well off family, he leads a life that appears to be a few gears up from the rest of them, the drinking and cocaine, the novel witnesses him embroiled with two women, Rosalba, (who quite literally takes a shot at Poli), and later he marries Gabriella, their estate in the country finishes off the novel with the scene of a rowdy party with a group of revellers from Milan.

Pavese's control of his prose is something to marvel at, as the narrator observes the groups of people and the individuals who orbit the novel, their feels something climatic just in their descriptions, this underlining sense culminates at the end of the novel. Reading the book I remained uncertain of what Pavese was trying to communicate through the novel, it remains perhaps a portrait of the various insecurities of growing up, but it is a gripping portrait of youth in transition caught at the peripheries of discovering perhaps the unchangeable world, very much enjoyed Pavese's style, there feels a fragility to it and I'm glad to have read this evocative novel and would like to catch up with The House On The Hill in the near future.

The Devil in the Hills at Peter Owen


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