Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Editing Tasso's Creation of the World

As I announced last month, International Authors is to publish a new translation of Torquato Tasso's Il Mondo Creato. This new edition is being translated by Dario Rivarossa, author of Dante Was a Fantasy Writer, and Salwa Khoddam, author of Mythopoeic Narnia: Memory, Metaphor, and Metamorphoses in The Chronicle of Narnia.  It is my role to edit the translation.  Dario has now provided me with the first canto (or rather "Day") and I am happy to report that the outlook is very promising.  When first embarking upon this project, one of our concerns was the fact that the work had been translated thirty years ago, and hence why the need for a new translation? Moreover, could International Authors produce a volume that was up to the mark?

Joseph Tusiani's 1982 translation of Il mondo creato is superb.  But so is the Rivarossa/Khoddam version. The new translation is, in places, closer to Tasso. The Tusiani version occasionally leaves a line or three out, or omits small bits in order to adhere to a ten-syllable line. That said, it is beautiful, full of wonders, and delightful in the most sensual and lyrical sense of the word. The Rivarossa/Khoddam translation is in blank verse--and, yes, it is also wonderfully beautiful and effusive.  As I work though the initial edit, it is fascinating when I come across passages where either of the translations stumbles over something. It is possible to compare the passages and determine--through a sort of "triangulation"--what should (or what could) be the proper English formulation.  I am happy to report that our translation is going to be very accurate--as well as vividly poetic.  As I negotiate my way through the editorial process with both translations open before me, it is gratifying to see how the English language can achieve precise representations of ideas or create effects that in Italian remain figurative and poetic.

Tasso's influence upon Milton is well-documented, and in Creation of the World I am delighted to discover foreshadows of  Miltron's project to derive modernism from reform Christianity--this activity finds a clear antecedent in Tasso. Indeed, Tasso demonstrates that the early-modern project is not entirely protestant in nature, but is a child of the counter-reformation as well. This is an important phenomenon to study in our current age of religious agitation.

Tasso's exotic poem is an apt addition to what International Authors is evolving into. Creation of the World is avant-garde--a dazzling work of philosophical art for the sake of philosophical art. Tasso's poem amply underscores the distinction between myth and philosophy, which I believe to be one of the highest aims of the poetic art. Moreover, the book will add much to International Authors' growing list, which is advancing a new modernism in the context of a world-wide open society.

1 comment:

dhr said...

>how the English language can achieve precise representations of ideas or create effects that in Italian remain figurative and poetic

Many thanks for this 'pre-preview,' Carter! Yes, it IS a translation from a _world_ to another world, not only languages.

As to philosophy and myth, my opinion is the same as with many other Tassean issues: he can distinguish between them _and_ then merge them, because there isn't _one_ solution.