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Collected Poems, 1920-1954: Revised Bilingual Edition
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374526257, Paperback)A white dove has landed me
among headstones, under spires where the sky nests.
Dawns and lights in air; I've loved the sun,
colors of honey, now I crave the dark,
I want the smoldering fire, this tomb
that doesn't soar, your stare that dares it to. --Eugenio Montale
Opera's loss was poetry's gain. Eugenio Montale, the 1975 Nobel Prize winner in literature and one of Italy's greatest poets, originally aspired to be an opera singer. Born in Genoa in 1896, Montale was a delicate child, his health precluding him from getting a formal education; instead, he spent his youth reading philosophy, literature, and Italian classics, and training as a baritone. World War I found him serving as an infantry officer on the Austrian front. Upon his return to civilian life, Montale took up singing again, but after the death of his voice teacher in 1923, he abandoned his operatic hopes. Just two years later, he published his first collection of poetry, Cuttlefish Bones. Over the next 50 years, Montale would produce many poems in between his work as a journalist; Jonathan Galassi's Collected Poems 1920-1954, however, concentrates on three collections that are, arguably, his masterpieces: Cuttlefish Bones (1925); The Occasions (1948); and The Storm, Etc. (1956).
In addition to Galassi's excellent translations, two other things stand out about this book: one is that both Italian and English versions can be read side by side; the other is that Galassi has thoroughly annotated these poems, placing Montale's challenging work in its historical, cultural, and personal context. We are told, for example, that "Leaving a Dove" is, in part, about the poet's abandonment of an old lover for a new one. Such information adds piquancy to the imagery and depth to the reader's appreciation. --Alix Wilber
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:13 -0400)
Eugenio Montale, who won the 1975 Nobel Prize in Literature, brought the tradition of Italian lyric poetry that begins with Dante into the twentieth century. Montale forged a myth out of his own story that resonates profoundly with contemporary man's anguished existential experience of love and solitude, and his beautiful, stirringly individual work deals courageously and subtly with the dilemmas of the modern era: its tormented history and politics, its struggle with doubt and belief. Jonathan Galassi's versions of Montale's major work - the arc stretching from Ossi di seppia (1925) through Le occasioni (1939) to La bufera e altro (1954) - are the clearest, most accurate, most convincing yet made. They are accompanied by an interpretive essay and by extensive notes that elucidate the extremely rich context of Montale's often dense and allusive poetry.
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