THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. And what of Italian Fairy-Tales?

A publisher I once tried to interest in translating Italian fairy-tales said to me, “We don’t think of Italy when we talk of fairy-tales. We think of Russia, of forests, of wolves and bears.”

I did protest that there were forests in Italy – I had been there. And that I had seen wolves and bears there with my own eyes. But the publisher’s eyes had already glazed over, safe in the corral of pre-conceived associations that connect Italian literature with organised crime, Neapolitan sagas, gritty socio-political statements and thrillers set in the snow-capped Alps.

Italian fairy-tales may not have the Eastern-influenced sensuality, magic and philosophy of Russian tales, but they are a slice of everyday life spiced with earthy common sense, folk enchantment and, at times, irreverent humour. Moreover, they often trigger more questions than they provide answers and, in that alone, they are true to life.

I would like to thank, with all my heart, those who have been reading The Italianist since its first edition last February, and for all their kind words. Among these, I particularly wish to thank the wonderful Italian writers, agents and publishers who have made this column possible.

Last but not least, I wish to thank Rosie Goldsmith, Anna Blasiak, Alyson Coombes and West Camel for their encouragement.

And, by way of thanks to you all, I give you two short Italian fairy-tales which I have translated.

Buon Natale e tantissimi auguri per 2021 a tutti,

By Katherine (Katia) Gregor


Meravigliose Fiabe Italiane

by Mary Tibaldi Chiesa (Carroccio, 1964).

Read The Dwarves’ Market and The Witches’ Polenta. As told by Mary Tibaldi Chiesa, translated by Katherine Gregor.


Katherine Gregor grew up in Italy and France before going to university in England. She has been a theatrical agent, press agent, teacher and one or two other things before becoming a literary translator from Italian, French and, on occasion, Russian. She also writes original material and is currently working on a non-fiction book.


Read previous posts in The Italianist series:

THE ITALIANIST: From QUEL TIPO DI DONNA by Valeria Parrella, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. QUEL TIPO DI DONNA (That Kind of Woman) by Valeria Parrella

THE ITALIANIST: From FIORE DI ROCCIA by Ilaria Tuti translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. FIORE DI ROCCIA (Flower of the Rocks) by Ilaria Tuti

THE ITALIANIST: From L’ARTE SCONOSCIUTA DEL VOLO by Enrico Fovanna, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. L’ARTE SCONOSCIUTA DEL VOLO (The Unknown Art of Flying) by Enrico Fovanna

THE ITALIANIST: From IL GIOCO DI SANTA OCA by Laura Pariani, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. IL GIOCO DI SANTA OCA (The Game of the Holy Goose) by Laura Pariani

THE ITALIANIST: From PONTI NON MURI by Giancarlo Ascari & Pia Valentinis, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. PONTI NON MURI (Bridges, Not Walls) by Giancarlo Ascari & Pia Valentinis

THE ITALIANIST: From ANDRÀ TUTTO BENE, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. ANDRÀ TUTTO BENE (All Shall Be Well), Writers at the Time of the Quarantine

THE ITALIANIST: From MARA. UNA DONNA DEL NOVECENTO by Ritanna Armeni, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. MARA. UNA DONNA DEL NOVECENTO (Mara. A Woman of the Twentieth Century) by Ritanna Armeni

THE ITALIANIST: From CON I PIEDI NEL FANGO: CONVERSAZIONI SU POLITICA E VERITÀ by Gianrico Carofiglio (with Jacopo Rosatelli), translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. CON I PIEDI NEL FANGO: CONVERSAZIONI SU POLITICA E VERITÀ (With Your Feet in The Mud: Conversations About Politics and Truth) by Gianrico Carofiglio (with Jacopo Rosatelli)

THE ITALIANIST: From Roberto Tiraboschi‘s NIBELLI ZONTRO, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. Roberto Tiraboschi‘s NIBELLI ZONTRO

THE ITALIANIST: From Caterina Bonvicini‘s TUTTE LE DONNE DI, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. Caterina Bonvicini‘s TUTTE LE DONNE DI

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor


Artwork by Rosie Goldsmith

Category: The Italianist: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About

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