Calvino on Ginzburg

Italo Calvino at The Paris Review:

Natalia Ginzburg is the last woman left on earth. The rest are all men—even the female forms that can be seen moving about belong, ultimately, to this man’s world. A world where men make the decisions, the choices, take action. Ginzburg, or rather the disillusioned heroines who stand in for her, is alone, on the outside. There are generations and generations of women who have done nothing but wait and obey; wait to be loved, to get married, to become mothers, to be betrayed. So it is for her heroines.

Ginzburg comes an outsider to a world in which only the most conventional signs, tracing from an ancient era, can be deciphered. From emptiness there emerges, here and there, an identifiable object, a familiar object: buttons, or a pipe. Human beings exist only according to schematic representations of the concrete: hair, mustache, glasses. You can say the same about the emotions and behaviors; they reveal nothing. She doesn’t reveal so much as identify already-established words or situations: Ah ha, I must be in love … This feeling must be jealousy … Or, now, like in The Dry HeartI will take this gun and kill him.

more here.