Cesare Pavese’s Il mestiere di vivere: Between the Search for Lost and Dead Time

  • Bernard Urbani


Inspired by Bergson and Proust, Pavese tries to reconstitute being from childhood through writing. Le métier de vivre is the adventure of an I who writes and its variations linked to time and in time, the story of a solitude and the growing awareness of a destiny that create a second reality and engender myth. For Pavese, the literary work must serve as a source of knowledge, not because it reflects reality but because it constructs another reality, because it is, like À la recherche du temps perdu, a work of language. In Le métier de vivre, suffering occurs on every page: that of a lonely man, disillusioned by impossible love, and that of a solitary poet, more and more demanding in his literary quest. Like Proust, Pavese finds a connection between the process of memory and the creation of the novel: to write is to remember, to revisit the first impressions of childhood, to find a destiny. To recover the past is to recover the self, to give it a sense of being connected to the world, while acting freely. Yet Pavese fails in this quest... The myth ends in scepticism and discouragement. Everything vanishes: years, beings, things. Myth has been renounced and with it have disappeared poetry and the desire to survive. But Pavese’s life gives way to writing – the real life! – which takes the form of Time (finitude and infinity) and which envelops everything, including Le métier de vivre.

How to Cite
Urbani, B. (2022). Cesare Pavese’s Il mestiere di vivere: Between the Search for Lost and Dead Time. E|C, (33), 158-169. Retrieved from https://mimesisjournals.com/ojs/index.php/ec/article/view/1717