Winter 1994 • Vol. XVI No. 1 NonfictionJanuary 1, 1994 |

Anchoring Natalia Ginzburg

An actress offered me the tapes of a two-hour interview with Natalia Ginzburg made in April 1991 six months before her death at age seventy-five. The brown, magnetic scrolls unwound a much-mourned presence: Natalia Ginzburg's voice. Robust, weathered and warm, her laughter revealed wisdom. I think I could also hear (perhaps because so many people had mentioned it to me) signs of Ginzburg's mask: pain that had not been given in to. Apparent in the crunchy bits of verisimilitude is Natalia Ginzburg's fascination: complexity, although she was characterized as simple; disarming openness, while labeled shy; "officially" lazy, although her production belies this. Both Catholic and Jew, a nonideologue who followed her instincts, an independent who was an elected communist MP, a declared nonfeminist although her subject was family, maternity, the dispossessed. A cat lover who perpetually chose practical shoes and blue suits is a quick snapshot: she had the emotional depth and strength o

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