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Collected Poems, 1920-1954

Eugenio Montale; Translated from the Italian and Annotated by Jonathan Galassi

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

0374533288

9780374533281

Trade Paperback

640 Pages

$30.00

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Eugenio Montale is universally recognized as having brought the great Italian lyric tradition that began 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 newly revised edition offers English-language readers uniquely informed and readable access to the work of one of the greatest of all modern poets.

REVIEWS

Praise for Collected Poems, 1920-1954

"[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’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, Los Angeles Times

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

"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

"Indispensable."—Bernard Knox, The New Republic

"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

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

"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

"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, 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. With a thorough chronology; an insightful essay, "Reading Montale"; and an index of titles and first lines; highly recommended for all major poetry collections."—Frank Allen, Library Journal
 
 
 
Table of Contents
 
Note to the 2012 Edition ix
 
OSSI DI SEPPIA / CUTTLEFISH BONES
In limine / On the Threshold 4
MOVIMENTI / MOVEMENTS 6
OSSI DI SEPPIA / CUTTLEFISH BONES 36
MEDITERRANEO / MEDITERRANEAN 64
MERIGGI E OMBRE / NOONS AND SHADOWS 8o
RIVIERE / SEACOASTS 140
 
LE OCCASIONI / THE OCCASIONS
Il balcone / The Balcony 148
I. 150
II. MOTTETTI / MOTETS 190
III. 212
IV. 220
 
LA BUFERA E ALTRO / THE STORM, ETC.
I. FINISTERRE 266
II. DOPO / AFTER 298
III. INTERMEZZO 308
IV. 'FLASHES' E DEDICHE / FLASHES AND INSCRIPTIONS 320
V. SILVAE 352
VI. MADRIGALI PRIVATI / PRIVATE MADRIGALS 386
VII. CONCLUSIONI PROVVISORIE / PROVISIONAL CONCLUSIONS 404
 
READING MONTALE 413
 
CHRONOLOGY 431
 
NOTES 439
Works Cited 439
Ossi di seppia / Cuttlefish Bones 443
Le occasioni / The Occasions 483
La bufera e altro / The Storm, Etc. 536
 
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 611
 
INDEX OF TITLES AND FIRST LINES 613
 

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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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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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Eugenio Montale; Translated from the Italian and Annotated by Jonathan Galassi

  • Eugenio Montale was born in Genoa in 1896. His work was read by many as symbolic of resistance to Fascism; eventually, he was widely acknowledged as the greatest Italian poet since Leopardi. Montale was also a voluminous writer of prose—stories and cultural, literary, and music criticism—and a talented amateur painter. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1975 and died in Milan in 1981.

    Jonathan Galassi has also translated and edited Montale's selected essays, The Second Life of Art: Selected Essays, and Otherwise: Last and First Poems, and his edition of Giacomo Leopardi's Canti appeared in 2010. He is also the author of three volumes of poems, Morning Run, North Street, and Left-Handed. He lives in New York and is president and publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux and honorary chairman of the Academy of American Poets.
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