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Lost—and Gained—in Translation: Montale's Poetry and Its Exchanges with World Poetry (NeMLA)

Boston, Massachusetts
Organization: Northeast Modern Language Association
Event: NeMLA
Categories: Postcolonial, Hispanic & Latino, Comparative, French, Lingustics, German, Literary Theory, Rhetoric & Composition, World Literatures, 20th & 21st Century, 20th & 21st Century, Poetry, Aesthetics, African & African Diasporas, Asian & Asian Diasporas, Australian Literature, Canadian Literature, Caribbean & Caribbean Diasporas, Indian Subcontinent, Eastern European, Mediterranean, Middle East, Native American, Scandinavian, Pacific Literature
Event Date: 2020-03-05 to 2020-03-08 Abstract Due: 2019-09-30

Imagine having provided a faithful translation of an Italian poem into Arabic, then having this Arabic text translated into French and the French version in its turn into Polish. Continue with this chain of translations using different languages (Russian, Czech, Bulgarian, Dutch, German, Spanish). Last of all, have the text translated back into Italian. What would the result of this ‘game’ be? It would be a new text, certainly different from the original one and – maybe – even better. The Italian poet Eugenio Montale hypothesized about this project during an interview; then he explained it to Maria Corti, who realized it in a book, Poesia travestita, using Montale’s poem Nuove Stanze. This idea testifies to Montale’s interest in translation, seen as a cultural operation through which the imperfect correspondence of meanings in different languages can lead to some losses, as well as some gains.

In 1920 Montale started publishing his first poems. Within the framework of NeMLA 2020 Convention, themed “Shaping and Sharing Identities”, this session aims to celebrate the 100th years anniversary of this event with a focus on the strong connection between Montale’s poetry and foreign – especially Anglo-American – literature.

This session seeks contributions that explore Montale’s work considering either the influence of foreign literatures on his writing or, on the other hand, the reception of his poetry abroad. Themes to be considered include but are not limited to: the foreign sources of Montale’s poetry; Montale as a translator; his cultural relationship with foreign friends and colleagues; Irma Brandeis and the poems / letters to Clizia; Montale as a traveler; the use of foreign languages in Montale’s poetry; the reception and the influence of Montale’s works outside Italy; translations and translators of Montale’s works – for example, the recent Johnatan Galassi’s English version, Collected Poems, 1920-1954.

Please submit an abstract (300-word maximum) by September 30, 2019.

If you have questions, feel free to contact the session chair:

Ida Duretto, Scuola Normale Superiore, ida.duretto@sns.it


Ida Duretto