THE NEAPOLITAN CHRONICLES

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New Vessel Press

A riveting classic of European literature, this superb collection of fiction and reportage is set in Italy’s most vibrant and turbulent metropolis—Naples—in the immediate aftermath of World War Two. These writings helped inspire Elena Ferrante’s best-selling novels and she has expressed deep admiration for the author of this volume, originally edited in Italian by Italo Calvino. Goyaesque in its depiction of the widespread suffering and brutal desperation that plagued the city, it comprises a mix of masterful storytelling and piercing journalism. This book, with its unforgettable portrait of Naples high and low, is also a stunning literary companion to the great neorealist films of the era by directors such as Vittorio de Sica and Roberto Rossellini. Neapolitan Chronicles is exquisitely rendered in English by Ann Goldstein and Jenny McPhee, two of the leading translators working from Italian today. Included in the collection is “A Pair of Eyeglasses,” one of the most widely praised Italian short stories of the last century.


PRAISE

“Obfuscation dominates in Gazdanov’s Paris, but in the Naples of Anna Maria Ortese, we are encouraged to see clearly. In Ortese’s persistence in seeing the truth in her surroundings— however stupefying— its easy to understand how she inspired Elena Ferrante.”
– Emily Rhodes.


“A literary gem that reaches beyond post-war Naples to explore timeless human struggles and the ethical responsibility of opening one’s eyes.”
– The Times Literary Supplement


“Anna Maria Ortese is a writer of exceptional prowess and force. The stories collected in this volume, which reverberate with Chekhovian energy and melancholy, are revered in Italy by writers and readers alike. Ann Goldstein and Jenny McPhee reward us with a fresh and scrupulous translation.”
– Jhumpa Lahiri, author of The Lowland and In Other Words


“This beautiful book is a landmark in Italian literature and a major influence on Elena Ferrante—both as a way of writing about Naples and because Anna Maria Ortese may have been the model for the narrator of Ferrante’s quartet of novels set there. Ann Goldstein and Jenny McPhee have rendered Ortese’s lively, Neapolitan-inflected Italian in vivid, highly engaging English prose.”
– Alexander Stille, author of The Sack of Rome and Benevolence and Betrayal


“Naples is a vast succession of cities—Greek, Samnite, Roman, Byzantine, Aragonese, Spanish, Bourbon, Savoyard—and every phase has had its chronicler. In the aftermath of World War Two, battered, humiliated Naples found no abler witness than Anna Maria Ortese. Sixty-five years later, with international interest in Naples unexpectedly high, Ann Goldstein and Jenny McPhee have given us an essential, eloquent translation as faithful to Ortese’s time as it is vividly alive for our own.”
–Benjamin Taylor, author of Naples Declared and Tales Out of School


“Ortese’s people are all in primary colors, so vivid that they jump off the page. Moreover, it is splendidly translated by two masters of their trade, Ann Goldstein and Jenny McPhee…this book will be of interest to Ferrante fans. But Ortese is worth reading for herself. Her mixture of the surreal and the real in all of this work is original and compelling. An example of prose that has lasted and will continue to do so.”
– The Arts Fuse


“This collection of writing and reportage about Naples was a major inspiration for Elena Ferrante. Ortese’s portrait of the Italian city just after World War II is of a place of poverty and desperation.”
– The New York Times, New & Noteworthy


“The texts in this book are kept together by a tension in the gaze, which wants to avert the eyes and cannot do it because compelled to watch, compelled to witness, and to write. And it is not her private world Ortese wants us to see: but to take part in the intensity of her scrutiny, to see with her.”
minor literature[s]


“This short book, so full of arresting images and starling observations, is a portrait of an author who found in a damaged city in her perfect muse.”
Sameer Rahim


“Elena Ferrante has cited Ortese (1914-98) as one of her greatest influences, and the connections are obvious in this collection of short stories and essays, which infuse a grimy, chaotic Naples with unsentimental menace rather than romantic mystique. Ortese gathers concrete details about the realities of poverty, and, like Ferrante, delineates moments of status tension with blunt accuracy. The narrator of ‘The Silence of Reason’ encounters an old literary friend and describes his presence in the room as ‘an abyss, a chasm full of hands clapping, which created a desolate sound, an endless sigh.’ The story’s skewering of Neapolitan intellectuals caused such an outrage that Ortese had to leave the city.”
– The New Yorker, Briefly Noted


“The new edition of Neapolitan Chronicles, by Elena Ferrante’s English translator Ann Goldstein and co-translator Jenny McPhee, presents more reason for celebration than simply the re-emergence of this seminal work. For one thing, until now, Ortese’s book has never appeared in English in its entirety; Frances Frenaye’s 1955 translation lopped off part of the longest of the five pieces that make up the volume and added three not present in the original. For another thing, Goldstein and McPhee have included a preface and afterword Ortese wrote for Roberto Calasso’s 1994 Italian re-issue, and these commentaries by Ortese help to illuminate her aims in writing the book as well as her feelings about its rocky reception by Neapolitans. The translators’ own introduction provides additional context.”
seraillon


“Though it has patches of satisfactory writing, ‘Neapolitan Chronicles’ is a shallow, obtuse, insufferable book, its faults so glaring and pervasive that I fail to understand how anyone can overlook them.”
The Wall Street Journal


“The translator is often hidden in publishing’s shadows (indeed, the series of events for translators at Italy’s biggest book fair is actually called “The Invisible Author.”) But many readers of Ortese may actually find their way to this book through the two translators that have brought her work to English-speaking readers: Ann Goldstein, Elena Ferrante’s translator, and Jenny McPhee, an accomplished novelist whose new translation last year of Natalia Ginzburg’s seminal work of nonfiction, Family Lexicon, was widely lauded.”
Cleaver Magazine


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