Short summary - The Beautiful Summer - Cesare Pavese

Italy literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - The Beautiful Summer
Cesare Pavese

Italy of the thirties of our century, the working outskirts of Turin. In these dim scenery, the sad story of the first love of a young girl Ginia for the artist Guido unfolds.

Ginia works in a tailor shop and keeps company with the factory workers and the guys from the neighborhood. One day she meets Amelia. It is known about Amelia that "she leads a different life." Amelia is a model, artists draw her - “full face, profile, dressed, undressed”. She likes this work, a lot of people often gather in artists' workshops, you can sit and listen to smart conversations - "cleaner than in the movies." It's cold to pose naked only in winter.

One day, Amelia is invited to pose by a fat artist with a gray beard, and Genia begs to go to him with her friend. The bearded man finds that Genia has an interesting face and makes some sketches of her. But the girl does not like her images - she turned out to be some kind of sleepy. In the evening, remembering "Amelia's swarthy belly", "her indifferent face and drooping breasts", she can't understand why artists paint naked women. After all, it is much more interesting to draw dressed! No, if they want to be posed naked, then "they have other things on their minds."

The work at the Bearded Man is over, and Amelia sits in a cafe all day. There she strikes up a close friendship with Rodriguez, a hairy young man in a white tie with jet-black eyes, who is constantly drawing something in his notebook. One evening, she invites Ginia to go to him, or rather, to the artist Guido, who rents an apartment on shares with Rodriguez. She has known Guido for a long time, and when Ginia asks what they did with him, a friend laughingly replies that they "beat glasses."

Laughing fair-haired Guido, lit by a blinding lamp without a lampshade, does not at all look like an artist, although he has already painted many paintings, all the walls in the studio are hung with his works. Young people treat the girls with wine, then Amelia asks to turn off the light, and the amazed and frightened Genia watches the cigarette lights flicker in the dark. From the corner where Amelia and Rodriguez are sitting, there is a quiet squabble. “I feel like I'm in a movie,” Ginia says. “But you don’t have to pay for a ticket here,” Rodriguez’s mocking voice is heard.

Ginia liked Guido and his paintings, she wants to take another look at them. “Had she been sure that she would not have found Rodriguez in the studio, she would perhaps have plucked up the courage to go there alone.” Finally, she agrees to go to the studio with Amelia. But Ginia is disappointed - Rodriguez is alone at home. Then Ginia chooses the day when Rodriguez sits in a cafe, and goes to Guido alone. The artist invites her to sit down, while he continues to work. Ginia gazes at a still life of "clear and watery" slices of melon on which a ray of light falls. She feels that only a real artist can draw like that; “I like you, Genia,” she suddenly hears. Guido tries to hug her, but she, red as a cancer, breaks out and runs away.

The more Ginia thinks about Guido, the less she understands "why Amelia got involved with Rodriguez and not with him." Meanwhile, Amelia invites Ginia to pose with her for an artist who wants to portray the struggle of two naked women. Ginia flatly refuses, and her friend, angry, coldly says goodbye to her. Wandering alone on the streets, Ginia dreams of meeting Guido. She's just sick of this blonde artist and studio. Suddenly, the phone rings: Amelia invites her to a party. Arriving at the studio, Ginia listens with envy to the chatter of Guido and Amelia. She understands that artists do not lead the same life as others, they should not be “serious”. Rodriguez - he does not paint pictures, so he is silent, and if he speaks, he mostly mocks. But the main thing is that she feels an irresistible desire to be alone with Guido. And so, when Amelia and Rodriguez settle down on the couch, she throws back the curtain that hides the entrance to another room, and, plunged into darkness, throws herself on the bed.

The next day, she thinks of only one thing: "From now on, she must see Guido without these two." And she also wants to joke, laugh, go wherever her eyes look - she is happy. I must really love him, she thinks, otherwise I wouldn't be nice. Work becomes her joy: after all, in the evening she will go to the studio. She even feels sorry for Amelia, who does not understand how good Guido's paintings are.

Entering the studio, Ginia hides her face on Guido's chest and cries for joy, and then asks them to go behind the curtain, "because in the light it seemed to her that everyone was looking at them." Guido kisses her, and she shyly whispers to him that yesterday he hurt her very much. In response, Guido reassures her, says that this will all pass. Convinced of how good he is, Genia dares to tell him that she always wants to see him alone, even if only for a few minutes. And she adds that she would even agree to pose for him. She leaves the studio only when Rodriguez returns.

Every day, Ginia runs to Guido, but they never have time to talk in detail, because at any moment Rodriguez can come. “I would need to fall in love with you in order to grow wiser, but then I would lose time,” Guido once remarks. But Genia already knows that he will never marry her, no matter how much she loves him. “She knew it from the very night she gave herself to him. Thank you also for the fact that for the time being, when she came, Guido stopped working and walked with her behind the curtain. She understood that she could only date him if she became his model. Otherwise, one day he will take another.”

Guido leaves for his parents. Amelia comes down with syphilis and Ginia warns Rodriguez about it. Soon Guido returns and their dates resume. Several times girls slip out of the studio to meet Ginia, but Guido says that they are models. And then Ginia finds out that, despite her illness, Guido takes Amelia as a model. Ginia is at a loss: what about Rodriguez? To which Guido angrily replies that she herself can pose for Rodriguez.

The next day, Ginia comes to the studio in the morning. Guido stands behind an easel and draws a naked Amelia. "Which of us are you jealous of?" the artist asks Giniya sarcastically.

The session is over, Amelia is getting dressed. “Draw me too,” Genia suddenly asks, and with a pounding heart, she begins to undress. When she is completely naked, Rodriguez comes out from behind the curtain. Somehow pulling on her clothes, Ginia runs out into the street: it seems to her that she is still naked.

Ginia now has a lot of time, and since she has already learned how to cope with homework in a hurry, this only makes her worse, because there is a lot of time to think. She starts smoking. Often she bitterly recalls that she and Guido "didn't even say goodbye."

It's a slushy winter outside, and Genia longingly dreams of summer. Although in her heart she does not believe that it will ever come. “I'm an old woman, that's what. Everything ended well for me,” she thinks.

But one evening Amelia comes to her - the former, not changed at all. She is being treated and will soon be completely healthy, says Amelia, lighting a cigarette. Ginia takes a cigarette too. Amelia laughs and says that Genia impressed Rodriguez. Now Guido is jealous of him. Then she invites Ginia to take a walk. "Let's go wherever you want," Ginia replies, "lead me."