‘The Dry Heart’ by Natalia Ginzburg – “I Shot Him Between the Eyes.”


‘The Dry Heart’ by Natalia Ginzburg (1947) – 88 pages              Translated from the Italian by Frances Frenaye

‘The Dry Heart’ has a dramatic opening as a woman confronts her husband of four years:

I shot him between the eyes.”

Yes, in this short novella an unnamed woman tells the entire circumstances from the time she first met her husband Alberto until this final shot. This is an unsentimental angry account of how she came to shoot her husband.

At the beginning our unnamed young woman is living a lonely isolated life in a boarding house room and working as a school teacher.

When she meets Alberto who is somewhat older than her, she imagines how wonderful it would be to be married and have a house of her own.

When a girl is very much alone and leads a tiresome and monotonous existence, with worn gloves and very little spending money, she may let her imagination run wild and find herself defenceless before all the errors and pitfalls which imagination has devised to deceive her.”

Alberto seems like a nice enough guy, but she doesn’t delude herself into believing she is in love with him.

A girl likes to think that a man may be in love with her, and even if she doesn’t love him in return it’s almost as if she did. She is prettier than usual and her eyes shine; she walks at a faster pace and the tone of her voice is softer and sweeter.”

Nor does she fool herself into believing Alberto is in love with her.

Before we were married, when we went for a walk or sat in a cafe, Alberto enjoyed my company even if he wasn’t in love with me.”

Alberto does tell her that there is another woman whom he has been in love with for years, but he couldn’t marry her because she was already married. But finally Alberto does ask our young unattached woman whom he doesn’t love to marry him.

Soon after they are married anyway, Alberto begins taking unexplained business trips for weeks at a time, and our young wife begins to suspect that he is seeing this married woman friend again.

I won’t go into any further detail on this simple plot.

– Natalia Ginzburg –

I write about families because that is where everything starts, where the germs grow.” – Natalia Ginzburg

‘The Dry Heart’ is impressive in that it avoids all sentimentality and is written in a restrained personal style. Natalia Ginzburg wrote in a genre that was known as neorealism which she called “a way of getting close to life, of getting inside life, inside reality”.

‘The Dry Heart’ raises the question, why don’t more wives kill their husbands?


Grade:    A



4 responses to this post.

  1. LOL. Love your last sentence…

    But you remind me I really should read Ginzburg and I do have at least one of her books!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. What??
    Surely, the question is, why do some people think that conflict can only be resolved by violence?

    Liked by 1 person


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