The Moncalvos

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Enrico Castelnuovo's The Moncalvos was originally published in 1908 in Italian. This is the first English translation of this famous novelist's most controversial title. Set at the turn of the 20th century, 50 years after Garibaldi's revolution and the unification of Italy, the Jewish residents of Italy have come into their own as landowners, academics, business people, and financiers. But one branch of the Moncalvos family yearns for the level of respectability that only an aristocratic title can confer. This requires much political maneuvering, but it also requires conversion to Catholicism. Two brothers, a mathematician and a banker, and their children, take very different routes through this maze.


Born in Florence on February 8, 1839, Enrico Castelnuovo taught at the Superior School for Commerce in Venice (today known as the University of Ca’ Foscari), which was founded by Luigi Luzzatti, his brother-in-law, and which he directed from 1905 until his retirement in 1914. Enrico Castelnuovo died in Venice on June 22, 1915. Gabriella Romani is an Associate Professor of Italian at Seton Hall University. She has taught at Barnard College and Princeton University before arriving at Seton Hall in 2005. She is the editor and co-translator of Edith Bruck. Brenda Webster was born in New York City, educated at Swarthmore, Barnard, Columbia, and Berkeley, where she earned her Ph.D. A novelist, freelance writer, playwright, critic and translator who splits her time between Berkeley and Rome, Webster is also the president of PEN West.