Learn More

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).
    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • ''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).
  • ''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).
  • ''At great periods you have always felt, deep within you, the temptation to commit suicide. You gave yourself to it; breached your own defenses. You were a child. The idea of suicide was a protest against life; by dying, you would escape this longing for death.''
    Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), Italian poet, novelist, translator. The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950, entry for Jan. 1, 1950 (1952, trans. 1961).
  • ''Living is like working out a long addition sum, and if you make a mistake in the first two totals you will never find the right answer. It means involving oneself in a complicated chain of circumstances.''
    Cesare Pavese (1908-1950), Italian author, poet. The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950, entry for May 5, 1936 (1952, trans. 1961).

Read more quotations »

Two

Man and woman watch each other lying in bed:
their two bodies stretched out wide and exhausted.
the man is still, only the woman takes long breaths
that quiver her ribs. The legs distended
are bony and knotted in the man's. The whispers
from the sun-covered street are foisted on them.

The air hangs impalpable in the heavy shadow
and freezes the drops of living sweat

[Hata Bildir]