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Collected Poems, 1920-1954
     

Collected Poems, 1920-1954

by Eugenio Montale, Jonathan Galassi (Translator)
 

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Winner of the Weidenfeld Translation Prize and the Premio Montale, an acclaimed translation of Italy's greatest modern poet

Eugenio Montale is universally recognized as having brought the great Italian lyric tradition that begins with Dante into the twentieth century with unrivaled power and brilliance. Montale is a love poet whose deeply beautiful, individual

Overview

Winner of the Weidenfeld Translation Prize and the Premio Montale, an acclaimed translation of Italy's greatest modern poet

Eugenio Montale is universally recognized as having brought the great Italian lyric tradition that begins with Dante into the twentieth century with unrivaled power and brilliance. Montale is a love poet whose deeply beautiful, individual work confronts the dilemmas of modern history, philosophy, and faith with courage and subtlety; he has been widely translated into English and his work has influenced two generations of American and British poets. Jonathan Galassi's versions of Montale's major works—Ossi di seppia, Le occasioni, and La bufera e altro—are the clearest and most convincing yet, and his extensive notes discuss in depth the sources and difficulties of this dense, allusive poetry. This book offers English-language readers uniquely informed and readable access to the work of one of the greatest of all modern poets.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[A] superb translation . . . If one of the functions of a poem is to offer an alternative to dominant ways of thinking and feeling within a society, and even on occasion to offer an alternative to its own alternatives, then Montale’s Collected Poems: 1920-1954 is poetry of an unignorable kind.” —Nicholas Jenkins, The New York Times Book Review

“Galassi has lived with these poems, studied Montale’s prose, his letters and notebooks, studied the Italian critics who have commented on the poems lovingly (and learnedly), and he’s given his readers the benefit of his own long absorption.” —Robert Hass, The Washington Post Book World

“Galassi is that rarity, a translator of verse who almost totally effaces himself as an intermediary between poet and reader . . . His versions succeed so consistently because Galassi treats the originals as coherent wholes; he is alert to their shifts of cadence and he strives to recreate what might be called their prosodic argument, that syllabic counterpoint or accompaniment to the sense of the words . . . With this plump but amiable tome in hand . . . it is finally possible for English readers to immerse themselves wholly in Montale’s private universe.” —Eric Ormsby, Parnassus: Poetry in Review

“Galassi’s extending grasp of the figure he has translated anew with such effective tenacity includes a wide range of the intricate Italian scholarship and criticism of Montale (already an academic cottage industry: neither a communist nor a Catholic nor a fascist, the poet affords his ambitious exegetes a riot of good clean fun).” —Richard Howard, The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review

“[A] superb translation . . . If one of the functions of a poem is to offer an alternative to dominant ways of thinking and feeling within a society, and even on occasion to offer an alternative to its own alternatives, then Montale’s Collected Poems 1920-1954 is poetry of an unignorable kind.” —Nicholas Jenkins, The New York Times Book Review

“The most impressive book that has come my way this year.” —Frank Kermode, The Times Literary Supplement (London)

“A model of its kind.” —Edward Hirsch, The New Yorker

“Indispensable.” —Bernard Knox, The New Republic

“A brilliant afterword . . . offers the best short account I have yet come across of the nature, import, and elusive content of Montale’s work. Above all [Galassi] has a firm grasp of its extraordinary inter-connectedness both inside itself and within Italian and European culture as a whole . . . Excellent.” —Tim Parks, The New York Review of Books

“Splendid . . . [A] generous, illuminating selection of the poet’s total product has been wisely chosen, sensitively translated, and brilliantly annotated. How many young (and old) American readers will this handsome new publication introduce to the great poet? A large number, I should guess . . . Galassi does not just translate the poems; he gives them a shape, a context, a history. His copious, informed notes are as irresistably readable as his afterword and leave no textual stone unturned.” —William Weaver, The Yale Review

“Galassi’s volume is unlikely to be superseded for a long time.” —Jamie McKendrick, London Review of Books 

Edward Hirsch
He is the Debussy of modern poetry, and in Jonathan Galassi's fresh translation of Montale's main achievement, Collected Poems 1920-1954, the English-speaking reader is given clear access to a body of work that has a severe majesty....It is a joyous fulfillment of Italian poetry.
The New Yorker
Library Journal
The work of Montale, the great modern Italian poet and 1975 Nobel prize winner, swarms with musical imagery and many-layered wordplay. One of many translators (William Arrowsmith, Cuttlefish Bones), Galassi presents a hefty bilingual edition that contains translations of three works: Cuttlefish Bones (1920-27); The Occasions (1928-39); and The Storm and Other Things (1940-54). Galassi argues that Montale's later work is "secondary" and that poetry from Cuttlefish Bones to The Storm "describes a complete arc, one of the greatest in modern literature." Galassi's edition provides copious critical annotation, a painstaking attempt to explicate Montale's "collage of borrowings." Identifying allusions (the Holocaust, Stalin's purges), influences (Browning, D'Annunzio), sources (Dante, Debussy), and themes ("Crowds in Montale always carry infernal associations"), Galassi's linguistic-textural analysis unravels many elements of the poet's voice: "a sinuous, constantly transforming series of metaphors spiraling around an elusive central core." This marriage of creative literary research and inspired poetic scholarship helps make Montale accessible to English-speaking readers.
— Frank Allen, North Hampton Community College, Tannersville, Pennsylvania
Nicholas Jenkins
...[T]he poetry's cadences have taken over my auditory memory, and its enigmatic images have (I hope temporarily) invaded my dreams....[It] is poetry of an unignorable kind. It may not fit in with one's worldview; but somehow it has to be accommodated....[The] preciousness of a few memories, a few signs, a few objects...is what Montale's poetry embodies...
The New York Times Book Review
Bernard Knox
Montale's...imagery is drawn from the grim landscape of an industrial city....the elemental forces of nature are evidence of a 'divine indifference' and serve as images of his own desperation...
The New Republic

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374526252
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
06/30/2000
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
640
Product dimensions:
5.97(w) x 9.03(h) x 1.47(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Eugenio Montale (1896-1981) received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1975. Jonathan Galassi has also translated Montale's The Second Life of Art: Selected Essays and Otherwise: Last and First Poems.

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