I'm reading an article in Italian.

It's an interview with a famous author named Erri De Luca.

  • Secondo lei, ciò ha avuto un impatto sulle sue opere letterarie?

Riconosco l’impatto del 1900, un secolo che ha schiacciato con la sua storia maggiore le piccole storie minori, personali, individuali.

My problem is understanding the meaning of the word "storia" in the above sentence. Does it mean "story" or "history"? I think it means "story" but I'm not sure.

  • The difference between story and history has always seemed fuzzy to me, even in English. All we have from the past is hearsay, after all...
    – Denis Nardin
    Apr 25, 2018 at 16:12

2 Answers 2


In Italian, the fact itself that there is a single word for both means that the distinction isn't sharp. If you like, the history of the 20th century is like a story that smashed smaller, personal stories. On the other hand, a single person can have a history too...

Let me phrase this better: just because in English there are two different words corresponding to this single Italian word, it doesn't mean that Italians have each time in mind one of the two (different but overlapping) meanings. Moreover, in Italian it would be perfectly normal to utter a sentence like: Ti racconto una storia, la storia di Roma, which would perhaps be translated in English as “Let me tell you a story, the history of Rome”, while there is not as clear-cut a difference in Italian.

Not completely unrelated: one of the major novels by Italian writer Elsa Morante (and one of the major Italian novels overall) is entitled La Storia, with a capital letter – which is not the rule for Italian titles – referring both to history, which overwhelms the novel's characters (a similar notion to De Luca's), and at the same time to the importance of their own story.


It means story.

1900 had two world wars and many other events that involved the whole world so that facts regarding ordinary people had less importance.

Both history and story can be translated as storia but history is in general, whereas I guess story can be related to a more precise period of time.

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