The stories of Giovanni Verga (1840-1922) are wonderful evocations of ordinary Italian life, focusing in particular on his native Sicily. In an original and dynamic prose style, he portrays such eternal human themes as love, honour and adultery with rich and colourful language. The inspiration for Mascagni's opera, 'Cavalleria Rusticana' depicts a young man's triumphal return home from the army, spoilt when he learns that his beloved is engaged to another man. Verga's acute awareness of the hardships and aspirations of peasant life can be seen in stories such as 'Nedda', 'Picturesque Lives' and 'Black Bread', while others such as 'The Reverend' and 'Don Licciu Papa' show the dominance of the church and the law in the Sicilian communities he portrays so vividly.
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