Two things today (it’ll be another short one, as I’m back to teaching in the evenings, so more pressed for time.)
On Friday last week I wrote an article entitled ‘Ever thought of writing your autobiography?‘, the idea being to promote this week’s new ebook easy reader, La coscienza di Zeno, which is number four in our classic Italian literature series.
Anyway, it turns out that at least one club member HAS written her autobiography, and emailed to tell me about it.
Zsuzsanna Bozzay lives in the UK, but is of Hungarian origin – so her story is called ‘My Hungarian Family‘. Below is the intro. blurb, copied from Amazon (I’m sure Jeff Bezos and Zsuzsanna won’t mind):
At the end of the Second World War Hungary reluctantly became a Russian satellite and the Communist Party took over the running of the country. My parents decided to leave but passports were impossible to get and the only way to escape was to walk over the border illegally. This was very dangerous. After the first failed attempt my mother was thrown into prison while I lay paralysed by polio in an isolation ward of the hospital. When she was released she bravely rehabilitated me and helped me to walk again. When the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was crushed by the Soviet army all hope of freedom vanished and thousands left their homes to flee to the West, my mother and I among them. This time we were successful and were welcomed in Dover by my uncle who lived in London.
If you’re not up for such a long read (it’s 239 pages), then Zsuzsanna has written a shorter version called ‘Escape from Communist Hungary‘ (148 pages only) which is about… well, what it says, I suppose. Just the thrills and spills.
I haven’t read either one, being currently busy with the original Italian version of La coscienza di Zeno. However, if you’d like to do so, and boost Zsuzsanna’s sales a little, here are those links again:
Before you ask, the club doesn’t get any commission if you click one of those links and buy something from Amazon – I’m mentioning Zsuzsanna’s autobiography because she’s a club member and because I thought you might be interested.
And yes, of course, if you’ve written your autobiography too, but were too shy to mention it, then do let me know. I don’t promise to buy a copy, but I’ll likely give it a mention here.
OK, the second thing today is the new ‘Mini-Book Club’ page on the club website, the one intended for ‘La coscienza di Zeno‘, whether you’re reading the Italian original like I am, or our simplified version.
It’s been rather quiet over there so far this week (comments were opened on Monday), with just me and Lynne F. reading the full version and being prepared to confess to it in public. Good on us! Though it would be more fun if we had some company.
Take heart! Zeno isn’t nearly such a bore as Moscarda in ‘Uno, nessuno e centomila‘. The opposite, in fact – he’s rather entertaining. And the author’s Italian isn’t as obscure as the Sicilian-flavored text of ‘I Malavoglia‘.
Plenty of people have bought the easy reader so far this week (the £5.99 special launch price ends on Sunday night). If you’re one of them, do pop over to the ‘Mini-Book Club’ page, scroll down to the comments section, and say ‘Ciao’, just to boost my and Lynne F.’s morale.
Or, why not have a go at the Italian original, which is available free online if you search for it, and in any case is linked to from the ‘Mini-Book Club’ page?
Sure, it’s long.
Of course, the level is high – it’s authentic Italian, not simplified like our stuff.
But hey, maybe you’ll surprise yourself!
Remember, when you’re reading in Italian, it’s not necessary (or even desirable) to try to understand everything. Much better to aim to get the general meaning, and just follow along as best you can, turning the pages and making progress through the story.
Often the author’s intention is unclear at the beginning, even if you do understand everything. And yet, while you might only be getting some of what you read, once you’ve got properly into the story, and know who’s who and what the characters are after, things are likely to become much clearer.
E poi, having read and understood, even partially, a wodge of ‘real Italian’, your confidence will likely be much increased for future such tasks.
Plus, you’ll have seen hundreds of examples of tense use, been exposed to innumberable new words (don’t bother looking them up in a dictionary, though), and had at least a taste of what Italian literature is like.
I’m about a quarter of the way through Zeno (started on Monday) and I was cracking on with it last night, quite engrossed in Zeno’s search for a wife (his friend has four daughters, the most suitable of which he intends to select for the purpose of matrimony…)
My wife was sympathetic when I told her that I still had twenty pages to read of my daily quota before I could go to bed, commenting that it was a shame that all the books I had to read for the book club were so ‘heavy’.
But you know what? Four books in (five if you include Eco’s), I’ve started to get a taste for it. Which has come as rather a surprise, given that I’ve spent most of my life avoiding ‘literature’, in favour of trashy paperback thrillers and the like.
Life’s full of surprises.
Don’t forget this week’s new, B1 (intermediate) -level ‘easy Italian reader’ ebook, La coscienza di Zeno, the fourth in our series of simplified versions of classic Italian literature, which is, for a few more days, available at the special launch offer price of just £5.99 (from Monday next week it’ll be £7.99.)
Tuesday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news was published on, erm, Tuesday. And today’s Wednesday…
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