A Perfect Hoax

    By Italo Svevo

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    Travelling salesman Enrico Gaia decides to play a trick on the conceited ageing littérateur Mario Samigli: he dupes him into thinking that a representative of a prestigious Viennese publishing house wants to commission a German translation of a long-forgotten novel Samigli had written and published…

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    Catastrophe and Other Stories

    By Dino Buzzati

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    This volume brings together twenty of the best stories written by Dino Buzzati – author of the celebrated novel The Tartar Steppe and one of the most original voices in twentieth-century literature – stories which show the Italian master’s taste for the bizarre and the humorous, and for exploring th…

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    Life in the Country

    By Giovanni Verga

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    Published in 1880, one year before Verga’s influential novel The Malavoglias, Life in the Country first marked his stylistic shift towards the verismo school of Italian realism. The collection’s centrepiece, ‘Rustic Honour’ (‘Cavalleria rusticana’) – which was famously adapted into a play by the aut…

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    Life of Dante

    By Boccaccio

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    Life of Dante brings together the earliest accounts of Dante available, putting the celebratory essay of literary genius Giovanni Boccaccio together with the historical analysis of leading humanist Leonardo Bruni. Their writings, along with the other sources included in this volume, provide a wealth…

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    Prophecies

    By Leonardo da Vinci

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    Found in the Codex Atlanticus of Leonardo da Vinci’s writings and drawings, ‘The Prophecies’ are a collection of enigmatic divinatory pronouncements, some punning and playful, others dire and ominous. While the author’s intentions behind these utterances are unclear, they clearly attest to the artis…

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    The Duel

    By Casanova

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    The notorious adventurer and seducer Giacomo Casanova tells of his travels – on the run from the authorities of his native Venice – around northern Europe, poking fun at the ruling classes he encounters there, before focusing on a pivotal incident that occurs in Warsaw. Insulted by a Polish count ov…

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    Thoughts

    By Giacomo Leopardi

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    Admired for the poetical heights of his Canti, the gentle wit of his prose dialogues and the soul-searching questionings of his Zibaldone (Notebooks), Leopardi was also an acute social commentator and a sharp dissector of the human mind. Thoughts – a collection of philosophical and critical observat…

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    Vita Nuova

    By Dante Alighieri

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    The Vita Nuova, with its unusual blend of prose and poetry, is universally recognized as Dante’s early masterpiece and provides an indispensable prequel to The Divine Comedy. Set in thirteenth-century Florence, part autobiography and part religious allegory, it traces Dante’s quest to find a poetic…

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    The Prince

    By Niccolò Machiavelli

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    At the end of an industrious political career in conflictriven Italy, the Florentine diplomat Niccolò Machiavelli composed his masterpiece The Prince, a classic study of power and politics, and a manual of ruthlessness for any ambitious ruler. Controversial in his own time, The Prince made Machiavel…

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    The Divine Comedy

    By Dante Alighieri

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    Dante’s dramatic journey down the circles of Hell, up the mountain of Purgatory and through the spheres of Heaven in search of redemption – and his encounter with devils, monsters and the souls of sinners and saints – is one of the cornerstones of Western literature, the summit of medieval thinking…

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    Sonnets

    By Giuseppe Gioachino Belli

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    Set against the chequered background of Rome, the city of the six Ps – Pope, priests, princes, prostitutes, parasites and the poor – Belli’s sometimes scandalous sonnets deal with life’s elementals: love, death, sex, food, money, family, religion and politics. In his immense oeuvre, sampled here in…

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    Sonnets

    By Cecco Angiolieri

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    Cecco Angiolieri, the enfant terrible of Italian literature, loved women, gambling, food and wine. It is said that he found comfort for his bad luck at the dice and with Becchina, his unreciprocating lover, only by pouring venomous scorn upon his miserly parents. Cecco’s outbursts of rage against hi…

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