"We don't remember days; we remember moments." (From Diaries, 1940)
Some have talked about the synchronicity between C Pavese and the narrator of The Moon and the Bonfires: this sense of exclusion, of internal exile that finds its counterpoint in physical exile.
The novel takes place after the Second World War, when the narrator returns from America, where he has made a fortune, to the village where he grew up. He has left the village out of a “rage at being nobody . . . to come home after everyone had given me up for dead”. He is well aware of his background: an orphan accepted by a family because of the money the government offered.
“But how often I’d seen the noisy carts go by, crammed full of women and boys on their way to the fair, to the merry-go-rounds of Castiglione, Cossano, Campetto, everywhere, and I was staying behind with Giulia and Angiolina under the hazel trees or the fig tree or by the side of the bridge, those long summer evenings, looking always at the same vineyards and sky. And then at night you could hear them coming home along the road, singing, laughing, shouting to each other across the Belbo. On evenings like that, a light, a bonfire seen on a distant hill, would make me cry out and roll on the ground because I was poor, because I was a boy, because I was nothing. I was almost happy when a thunderstorm, a real summer disaster, blew up and drenched their party. But now, just thinking about them, I was missing those times and wanting them back”.
“For better or worse, you know me. For better or worse, let me live.”