Memorable Lines: Natalia Ginzburg

He always feels hot. I always feel cold. In the summer when it really is hot he does nothing but complain about how hot he feels. He is irritated if he sees me put a jumper on in the evening.

He speaks several languages well; I do not speak any well. He manages – in his own way – to speak even the languages that he doesn’t know.

He has an excellent sense of direction. I have none at all. After one day in a foreign city he can move about in it as thoughtlessly as a butterfly. I get lost in my own city; I have to ask directions so that I can get back home again. He hates asking directions; when we go by car to a town we don’t know he doesn’t want to ask directions and tells me to look at the map. I don’t know how to read maps and I get confused by all the little red circles and he loses his temper.

Natalia Ginzburg, from “He and I,” an essay about marriage.

Natalia Ginzburg

Natalia Ginzburg

Natalia Ginzburg (1916-1991) – essayist, novelist, activist. Of her writing, she said:

“When I write something I usually think it is very important and that I am a very fine writer. I think this happens to everyone. But there is one corner of my mind in which I know very well what I am, which is a small, a very small writer. I swear I know it. But that doesn’t matter much to me. Only, I don’t want to think about names: I can see that if I am asked ‘a small writer like who?’ it would sadden me to think of the names of other small writers. I prefer to think that no one has ever been like me; however small, however much a mosquito or a flea of a writer I may be. The important thing is to be convinced that this really is your vocation, your profession, something you will do all your life.”

Comments (3)

  1. Carla June 6, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    A very powerful quote. Its honesty gives it its power. It resonates very much with me and, undoubtedly, many other writers. Thank you, Susan, for posting this.

  2. Susan Olding June 8, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Thanks, Carla, for dropping by!

  3. Pingback: Meeting Natalia Ginzburg | The Chapel

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