Thursday, December 10, 2009

Camilleri's Italian covers

My reading of and about Andrea Camilleri has led me to a Web site that offers a gallery of his Italian covers and links to tantalizing summaries of books not yet translated into English.

Camilleri's eleventh novel about Inspector Salvo Montalbano has just been published in English as The Wings of the Sphinx; the site offers covers and summaries of fourteen novels plus two collections of Montalbano stories, an omnibus edition and a non-Montalbano book.

One of the novels takes the investigation into Montalbano's beloved Mediterranean, "the most marine of Montalbano's investigations," according to Camilleri.

A collection of long stories, La prima indagine de Montalbano (Montalbano's First Investigation), takes the reader to a time when "Montalbano is 35 years old, an adult but still professionally naive and not so astute ..."

Now, there's something for Camilleri's readers to look forward to.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

I am salivating at the thought of these Camilleris. I do hope your dentist visit went OK.

December 10, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I knew about the novels and one collection of stories. The other material was new to me. Even for the books I'd known about before, though, there was something especially exciting about seeing the covers.

I made a good impression at the dentist. I had thought he was going to place a crown on the titanium post he had implanted several months earlier, but he just took impressions to help the artisans craft the crown. That's lots of work for one tooth.

It will be quite something to see a young Salvo at work. And short stories might be good vehicles for me to practice and strengthen my feeble Italian. On the other hand, alternating chapters between the original and the translation can be a useful way to learn. Hmm ...

December 10, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

I buy the Italian-language Camilleris from Internet Bookshop Italia, -- a sort of Italian

IBS provides a summary as well as their own review of each book and, like amazon, readers may post their own reviews. Camilleri's amazing output as well as the literary cottage industry that has sprung up around the Montalbano novels are all here.

The short stories, most of which really are short, say 20-30 pp., are a great way to bone up on your Italian but readers should know that most of the text of Camilleri's Montalbano ss's and novels are written in Sicilian and it takes a bit of getting used to. I was pretty discouraged at first because I didn't know what was going on! Sicilian is more than a dialect; there are many words completely unlike their Italian counterparts. An Italian-Sicilian dictionary is an enormous help. Bonfiglio Gianni's "Siciliano-italiano. Piccolo vocabolario ad uso e consumo del lettori di Camilleri e dei siciliani di mare" is quite useful as is the online dictionary at --

I sure hope Stephen Sartarelli translates the ss compilations at some point.

In the meantime, if readers want to tackle a Montalbano ss this month, I'd recommend "Gli arancini di Montalbano" as it has a New Year's theme.

December 10, 2009  
Blogger Simona Carini said...

I am away from my bookshelf, so I have to go by memory, but here is what I remember: all the Montalbano novels are published by Sellerio and all the story collections by Rizzoli. Sellerio's book are all the same size and all have the same blue cover: the difference is in the cover image (I love these books and fortunately Sellerio is the publisher of several authors I like, so I have a bunch). I have four collections: the one you show in the post, the one Elisabeth mentions (also the title of one of the TV movies, where Adelina appears in person), Un anno con Montalbano and La paura di Montalbano.
To follow up on what Elisabeth says, the dialectal words used by Camilleri were foreign to me as well, since I come from a different part of Italy. In time, I have acquired the necessary vocabulary. At the beginning, I used the context to understand the meaning of unfamiliar words.

December 10, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth: Thanks for the shopping pointer. Even reading the reviews at the site ought to help my Italian, since I'd be reading about a familiar subject. I'm not surprised to learn about the Montalbano cottage industry. I've read about Montalbano's recipes and Montalbano tours, and I've consulted a Web site called "Libri nei libri di Montalbano."

Stephen Sartarelli says Camilleri writes in Italian, Sicilian and a language of his own invention, so I expect he would be no easy read. I had heard of "Siciliano-italiano. Piccolo vocabolario ad uso e consumo del lettori di Camilleri e dei siciliani di mare" and the online dictionary. Talk about a literary cottage industry,

Reading each chapter in English then Dutch worked for me with one of Janwillem van de Wetering's Grijpstra and De Gier novels, so I should be able to manage the same with Camilleri. I've also read Emanuela Gutkowski's book about Sartarelli's translation of Camilleri, which should help.

December 10, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Simona, the site to which I linked backs up your recollections about the pubishers, I think. I'd also seen covers from Italian edtions of the novels, each with black framing a different illustration, The two collections you mentioned are not on the site, and I believe that Gli arancini di Montalbano is also the title of a story collection -- also absent. So Montalbano is available in quite a number for forms and combinations.

December 10, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Yes, between the short story compilation mentioned by Peter and the 3 by Simona these are the 4 ss volumes. Attempting to cash in on all-things Montalbano, variations on these 4 volumes have been released. Just double-check the TOC's before buying a duplicate edition (as I accidentally did...). In the "Gli arancini di Montalbano" compilation is a charming short story, "Salvo amato... Livia mia...", written as an exchange of letters. It is easy to read if you know some Italian because Salvo speaks Italian to Livia (and other non-Sicilians) -- these passages always go a bit faster for me even now after learning some Sicilian. What I didn't know was that this ss is a fictionalized, inexplicit revisitation of the assassination of Simonetta Ferrero (1971) recorded in the news as the "Delitto della Cattolica" (murder at the Catholic University of Milan), at least according to the Wikipedia entry on "Gli arancini di Montalbano."

Peter, re Sartarelli's comment on Camilleri's "language of his own invention" I think these are mostly variations on Sicilian spellings so you just have to "go with the flow" and not get too hung up on which vowel is being used this time around. At least that's how I eventually approached the text. As a native speaker, perhaps Simona has a different view...?

December 10, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You anticipated a question of mine: which short-story colletion to buy? I think I'll start with Gli arancini ... (I am typing this at the Pen & Pencil Club, where no bed's siren song threatens to call me away from my writing. Sitting across me is an acquaintance, native to Lazio, who owns a restaurant here. He told me how he prepares arancini and, when I mentioned Montalbano's fondness for baby octopus, he brought his fingers to his lips.)

In re going with the flow, a chapter a day of, say, The Shape of Water, followed by one from La forma dell'aqua would avert too much bogging down on Sicilianisms and Camillerism, I think.

December 10, 2009  

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