Friday, April 22, 2011

The Faber Book Of

20th-Century Italian Poems
edited by Jamie McKendrick.
Twentieth century Italian poets are largely unknown, barring a few names such as Eugenio Montale (1896 – 1981), who was an Italian poet, prose writer, editor, translator and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1975, and who came to hold the same level of importance as T. S. Eliot did within his own culture as well as internationally. Then there’s Salvatore Quasimodo (1901 –1968), also a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (1959), and is considered alongside   Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888 –1970) as one of the foremost Italian poets of the 20th century. Then what? D’ Annunzio?(Gaetano Gabriele D'Annunzio-1863 –1938) better known nowadays  as the precursor of the ideals and techniques of Italian fascism and for his strong influence on the ideology of Benito Mussolini (although never directly involved in fascist government politics in Italy) for which he has acquired a certain infamy.

Jump forward to recent times, say the last  twenty odd years, and there has been an improvement, a breach in this lack of curiosity, a slight awakening from the world of English language to this nation’s verse, brought about by the publications of translated  books by the likes of - Cesare Pavese,  Attilio Bertolucci, Primo Levi, and Bartolo Cattifi, yet even these - outside certain circles - have varying levels of success, or critical notice.faber italian poets
Another issue that can confuse & bewilder the individual entering this world for the first time, can be the degree of division within its sphere – “Italian poetry has as many different schools and factions as it’s politics has Parties – I Crepusculari, Hermeticism, Gruppo 63, etc.”. Which is where a broad based Anthology such as this can help, it sides with no particular group or faction, it merely offers an overview and as such can introduce - even if on a basic level - you to a whole new world of verse.

Yet this Anthology wants more, James McKendrick’ s knowledge of Italian literature and culture is profound, as is his love and respect, this he wants to share with us, to give an impression of the depth and complexity of Italian poetry in the twentieth century. Although this is not a Bilingual edition, which probably would improve it, would allow comparison with the original poems, but this is a minor foible, and one unrelated to me as I read no Italian.


Woman from Genoa
You bought me a little seaweed
In your hair and a scent of wind
                that came from afar and arrives weighted
      With warmth on your bronzed body:
                                                         --oh the divine
                                                         Artlessness of your slim figure-
                                                         Not love not agony, a ghost.
                                                        A shade of necessity that wanders
                                                        serenely and ineluctably into the soul,
                                                        And dissolves it in joy, in serene enchantment
                                                        so that the sirocco may carry it
                                                        Into infinity.
                                                        How small the world is and light in your hands!
(Dino Campana-1885-1932)trans, Isadore Saloman
Faber & Faber.
Contemporary Writers.


Emily Cross said...

Thanks so much for dropping by my little blog! Great to see another poetry blog especially with focus on international poetry (and I love Haruki Murakami too!!). Am following now and look forward to your future posts.

@parridhlantern said...

@Emily Cross: Hi Emily, thanks for your comments & It's great to see another blog with a poetic slant, if you like Murakami check out my challenge page , there's a link on there to a Murakami challenge, run by Tanabata (inspringitisthedawn) from Japan, It's a great resource & challenge. Thanks again

James said...

Montale is one of my favorite poets, but I appreciate your highlighting these other fine poets. The McKendrick anthology looks like a superb addition to the literature.

Tom Cunliffe said...

The translator's art is difficult enough without having to capture the subtle nuances of poetry - from your example, it looks like a good job was done, but how can we know if it captures the real meaning of the original? I find English poetry difficult enough. Perhaps we have to see translated poetry as a new creation in its own right and not worry about the original author's intentions. Nice review anyway!

PS There's probably nothing you can do about it, but in order to comment on your blog I have to type in a captcha code, then select an identity and then type in my name and URL - most blogging systems seem to remember people who've commented before and let them just type in the commnent. Perhaps it a Blogger thing!

@parridhlantern said...

@southcoastsounds: This probably would have been improved if it had been bilingual, so those who speak Italian could compare how they see it but that was my only quibble.
As for the comment thing, ill look into that, but I think you're right with it being Blogger , will get back with what I find.

Anonymous said...

lovely piece I must admit I don't read enough poetry and very little in translation but may look this collection out ,all the best stu

@parridhlantern said...

@winstonsdad: used to be really into it, but my interest peered out for a few years, now becoming reinvigorated & am spreading the love, if you want a place to start with the poetry BloodAxe do a series of books - Staying Alive, Being Alive & Being Human & they cover a wide range of poetry from all around the world, or there's - The RattleBag edited by Ted Hughes & Seamus Heaney. Another option is the BTBA they have poetry in their as well, hope you find something you like & let US know,
Thanks for the comment

Tom Cunliffe said...

Hi Parrish - I must have been feeling a little bit grumpy when I wrote my previous comment about blogger commenting. Thanks for the reply anyway.

Sometimes I forget to check the right boxes and end up commenting from my google account - which is southcoastsounds (confusion all round I fear!). I am also southcoastosunds on youtube where I post guitar videos.