Jenny McPhee, a writer and translator, is the director of the Center for Applied Liberal Arts at NYU’s School of Professional Studies. Her translations from Italian have included books by Primo Levi, Natalia Ginzburg, Giacomo Leopardi, and Curzio Malaparte. She is also the author of the novels The Center of Things (2001), No Ordinary Matter (2004), and A Man of No Moon (2007). (May 2020)

Follow Jenny McPhee on Twitter: @Jennymcphee.


The Hawthornes Visit the Colosseum

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot: The Colosseum: View from the Farnese Gardens, 1826

“A mosquito,” Nathaniel said, imagining, as was his wont, all that was to come—his beloved daughter’s long battle with malaria devolving into meningitis, then typhus, leaving her physically and mentally compromised, indeed mad for the rest of her life. And all of it his fault, because he was so keen to come to Italy, his long dreamed of Italy, though he knew the dangers. He took a risk and lost, but he knew he was just as likely to lose not taking risks. There was no avoiding loss. Tragedy came for everyone sooner or later.