Born on a farm in the Piedmont, the son of a judiciary official in Turin and a severely disciplinarian mother. Educated at the University of Turin where he studied English and American Literature and wrote a thesis on the poetry of Walt Whitman. Oppressed by thoughts of suicide as a student and unable to form stable and satisfying relationships with women, thereby establishing the pattern of his mature life. Awarded his doctorate in 1930, the year his mother died. Lived with his married sister in Turin thereafter. Began to write essays on and to translate American realist novelists, and made several vain attempts to gain a scholarship to Columbia University. Took up a part-time teaching post in Bra, where he met the woman he wished to marry, to whom he repeatedly proposed. Edited a literary review and worked briefly for the publishing house of Einaudi, later his primary source of income before his novels became known. Arrested for anti-Fascist activities in 1935 and imprisoned in Calabria for a year, where he wrote many of the poems of Lavorare Stanca, began the diary which was published after his death, and started to think in terms of the short stories and novels with which his name is now identified. Awarded the Strega Prize for the novel Among Women Only, and, two months later, partially prompted by the difficulties in his relationship with an American actress, took a fatal overdose of sleeping tablets in a Turin hotel room after a final telephone call to the woman he had wished to marry.
Cases of that 'bilingualism' which enables a writer to achieve