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From "La donna dei fiori di carta", start of chapter 9.

Context: Guzman and his mother are chasing his elusive father. After travelling from city to city, they come to Marseille.

Arrivarono in città perché le ultime notizie sul fuggiasco lo volevano stanziale nel Sud della Francia.

I understand what it says: "They came to this city because the latest news about the fugitive said he wanted to settle in the south of France."

What I don't understand is who or what the volevano refers to.

It's a plural, so it can refer to either Guzman and his mother, or le notizie. It cannot be the former, because it's the father wanting to settle in France, not Guzman and his mother. It cannot be the latter, because it's the father wanting to settle in France, not the news.

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No, the sentence doesn't say that. It says, more or less (I'm not a literary translator into English, it not being my first language): “They came to this city because the latest news about the fugitive said that [or, “according to the latest news about the fugitive”] he was a resident of [or, “had settled in”] the south of France”.

The main meaning of volere is, of course, “to want” but, as you can see for instance here, it's used in a lot of other ways. The one relevant here is labelled as 3.h in that dictionary article:

Asserire autorevolmente, tramandare: vuole un’antichissima tradizione che ...; come vuole una nota leggenda; così almeno vogliono i cronisti dell’epoca.

That is, volere is used to mean “to say, to assert, to recount”, said especially of news, chronicles, traditions. So, in that sentence, the subject is indeed le ultime notizie sul fuggiasco.

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"Volevano" refers to the news. In a sense, they're being personified - As if the news were so sure being right in their statement to the point of almost requiring for the fugitive to be in France.

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  • No, news aren't personified, nor are they sure of anything. It's just a standard, albeit uncommon, use of of the verb volere.
    – DaG
    Jun 29 at 22:42
  • True, it's not a literary device in the strict sense sense of the word, but I believe in this case "volere" is trying to convey a slight more nuanced meaning than simply asserting a fact - A bit of context would be lost if it were translated simply with "According to the latest news" or "they said". That's how I would explain it to a non-native speaker, at least. Jun 30 at 8:47

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