Giovanni Carmelo Verga (1840 - 1922) was one of the most prominent Sicilian writers of the 19th century. Today, his stories are best known through their use as the basis of the libretti of iconic verismo operas, like Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana.
In the introduction, the translator vividly describes the ground-breaking realism of Verga's stories:
It is no land of the imagination into which we are brought by Verga; there is no fascinating glamour of the virtuous triumphing after many vicissitudes, and seeing, at last, the wicked adequately punished. Here it is a grim reality. The poor and weak go relentlessly to the wall; innocence and humble ignorance are crushed by experienced vice, the butterfly is singed by the flame; there is little joy, little peace. But yet the stories are not wholly pessimistic, nor do they give an utterly hopeless idea of the Sicilian peasant. You see that education and a little real sympathy might make a great people out of Verga's "Turiddus" and "Alfios". The little collection of Sicilian pictures here presented is marked by quite wonderful variety and contrast and well illustrates the author's genius at its best.
1) How Peppa loved Gramigna
2) Jeli, the Shepherd
3) Cavalleria Rusticana (Rustic Chivalry)
4) La Lupa (the Wolf)
5) The Story of the St Joseph
6) The Bereaved