Saturday, April 13, 2019

Creation of the World, revised review

I was browsing on Amazon the other day, and I noticed that L. Sterns Newburg has revised his review of the International Authors translation of Torquato Tasso's Il mondo creato (Creation of the World).

The review, which contains some encouraging remarks, follows:

Il Creato Mundo in English - Amazing

Genio: Come stai, Torquato?
Tasso: Ben sai come si può stare in una prigione, e dentro ai guai fino al collo.

An impressive piece of scholarship, and a valuable practical document for those interested in the great Italian poet, Torquato Tasso. This is a translation of Tasso's Il Creato Mundo, and the translators have been faithful - I want to say "lovingly faithful" - to the spirit and the words of the original. Tasso's original is in some ways an eccentric performance, so this translation presented numerous technical challenges, most of which have been surmounted.

The most difficult part of Tasso to recreate in English is the music of the original Italian. Any translation from a Romance language to English that somehow recreates such music engaged in a species of legerdemain, and inevitably, it results in subtle departures from sense of the original. The translators did not attempt to recreate Tasso's music.

Tasso cannot, perhaps, really speak to us in English, but the able translators have given us something far superior to a mere crib. Bravissimo!

Tasso's reputation in English-speaking countries has mutated over the years. Tasso influenced not only Milton, but Edmund Spenser and Samuel Daniel. He was at one point one of the luminaries of world literature, and after Dante, people tended to discuss Tasso and Ariosto. Something happened in the 19th Century, I gather, and their reputation outside Italia declined. Also, the later work of Tasso is somewhat problematic because he seemed desperate to conform to religious requirements as seen according to the lights of the Counter-Reformation. Alas.

His lyrics, his play Aminta, and Jerusalem Liberated are all very important, but the legend of Tasso as time went on exerted as much influence as the man's work. Leopardi wrote a fictional dialogue between Tasso and his "familiar spirit," and Goethe wrote a famous play. There are other uses of his personal history-as-mythology. It's almost the way Chatterton's life gets used.

This translation could help in a revaluation and understanding of this significant poet, something that is overdue.

To view the book, please click the cover image:

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