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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leopardi - Welcome to Your New English Translation
After reading this collection, I find it difficult to believe that such a monumental work has not been translated with such care before.

Jonathan Galassi has done an extraordinary job of making Leoparidi's 19th century Italian verse feel both timeless and essential. Not only this, his introduction, chronology and notes provide the perfect context into which the...
Published on December 31, 2011 by Flippy

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars My Problem With This Translation
I am giving this book only four stars, rather than five, because I am dissatisfied with the translation.

Look, I know no Italian whatsoever. Galassi, the translator, is surely in a much better position than me to understand that language. What I do happen to know a fair amount about, however, is poetry. As the I mouth the Italian to myself, it sounds like...
Published 5 months ago by A. Nemon


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leopardi - Welcome to Your New English Translation, December 31, 2011
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After reading this collection, I find it difficult to believe that such a monumental work has not been translated with such care before.

Jonathan Galassi has done an extraordinary job of making Leoparidi's 19th century Italian verse feel both timeless and essential. Not only this, his introduction, chronology and notes provide the perfect context into which the non-Italian reader can gently and ably approach the great and long-suffering poet.

For those that have read Penseri (Thoughts) by Leopardi, this book will provide a suitable compliment as the Canti is like the Penseri, only in verse as opposed to prose. The Canti, like Rilke's Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus, like Baudelaire's Flowers of Evil and Whitman's Leaves of Grass, much be read with re-reading in mind as there is so much here to absorb and fall in love with.

One thing is certain Giacomo Leopardi is quite melancholic and at times sardonic. Though he is a contemporary of Keats and the two share a fondness for the moon and nature, there is nothing of the love of beauty, more the disgust and longing that haunt the Italian's pessimistic poetry. Arthur Schopenhauer, I feel, is the best in summarizing the poet and his work: "everywhere his theme is the mockery and wretchedness of this existence. He presents it on every page of his works, yet in such a multiplicity of forms and application, with such a wealth of imagery, that he never wearies us, but, on the contrary, has a diverting and stimulating effect."

I suggest reading this book cover to cover first then going back and reading your personal favourites. But also, a re-reading of La ginestra ("The Broom") is necessary. (One of my favourites is a Dantesque Fragment XXXIX in which a young woman goes out seeking love and is overcome by a storm - Leopardi writes with such simplicity and intensity, you can feel both his love and sympathy for this woman and yet this dark need to see her suffer and be punished as if she had earlier rejected him...)

For those that love the mystical isolation of Friedrich Hölderlin's verse, Leopardi is bound to be your new best poetry find.

Again, it's a shame that the poetry reading public had to wait so long to finally gain such a blessed translation. A new translation making this almost a "new classic". After reading Galassi's rendition, it will feel like Leopardi has always been there in English translation. This collection is beyond superb.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Canti: poesia per italiani, January 30, 2011
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All this fury over the translation nuances of words! The translation is beautifully coherent and conveys the linguistic beauty of the poet in all of his emotional moods. Most individuals who purchase this book will, I hope, understand that they are not purchasing a word for word translation of poems...when one translates anything into another language one translates a thought...not words. Galassi does this extremely well. And then, remember also, some words are not completely translatable. Languages are not 100 % interchangeable! If you have an argument with this translation....read Leopardi in the Italian!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars My Problem With This Translation, August 6, 2014
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This review is from: Canti: Poems / A Bilingual Edition (Italian Edition) (Paperback)
I am giving this book only four stars, rather than five, because I am dissatisfied with the translation.

Look, I know no Italian whatsoever. Galassi, the translator, is surely in a much better position than me to understand that language. What I do happen to know a fair amount about, however, is poetry. As the I mouth the Italian to myself, it sounds like poetry; it possesses what the translator, in his introduction, refers to as "musicality." Galassi claims there that it would be impossible for him, as the translator, to translate that musicality into English.

Well, maybe not! But I don't think he even tried, or if he did, maybe he did not possess the linguistic resources necessary to do so. In the Italian, there were elaborate rhyme schemes, there were internal rhymes, there were concise and colorful phrases, there seemed to be some stretched and (perhaps I'm overstepping by calling it this) Miltonic syntax--all of which Galassi seemed to be trying his best to convert into a bland, characterless, "modern" paste.

I don't like paste. I like poetry. When I read Romantic poetry, I want the poems to sound like they would if a Romantic poet had written them. That means altering words, employing variations on them, changing word order, experimenting with different synonyms and phrasings--taking care to maintain a classical elegance and metricality. Galassi does not appear to have been interested in any of this. As a result, his translation reads as (to utilize a cliche) workmanlike, at best, and certainly not poetic by any discriminating sense of the word.

When you read the Italian out loud, it sounds like a poem. When you read the translation, it doesn't.
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Finally!!!!, February 5, 2011
Eugenio Montale translator Jonathan Galassi has undertaken a task of formidable challanges and one that has been deemed too daunting by many previous poets. However to his credit, and to FSG's excellence in publications, we now have a complete bi-lingual edition of the Canti in English (the Italian original is adjacent each translation). The work has been enthusiastically endorsed by Richard Howard, Walter Kaiser and W.S. Merwin, praising the style and packaging alike. Kaiser correctly cautions that "on one level, Leopardi, like Pindar, or Mallarme or Celan, will always be untranslatable because his haunting music and idiosyncratic language cannot be transported" only to add that "in other respects, Galassi's spledid new achievement will, for the non-Italian reader, provide an entry into the incomparable world to one of the greatest lyric poets of the nineteenth century." It is true indeed. Galassi's work reads more like a transliteration than a version of the poem attuned to satisfy the demands of mood and tone - Leopardi's sublime nuances that within the lyrical composition haunt the reader with a staccato too profound to absorb and too obvious to ignore. The reasons for the usual vogue of branding Leopardi a pessimist come to the surface of the lyrical depth, and gracefully the ethics and the dignity of Leopardi are always given its due by Galassi, as much as the intimations of mortality that foreshadow in a consummate imponderable nihilism Leopardi's poetry - thus the warped scepticism that disenchants passionately the simple joys of living and the classical wisdom of civilized ideals alike is in plain view here. Ultimately Galassi gives us a fair and noble lyricism that hints at the tone and clearly reproduces the themes and its imagery. It is a labor of love that deserves to be read and appreciated. It will not fail to provoke and inspire. One will not be able to know Leopardi's poetry through this rendition, but one is sure to know Leopardi, the thinker, the poet and his unsparing critique of the illusions we are happy to embrace in spite of our better judgement. For a more thorough immersion - soon to be translated by FSG are the complete notebooks (The Zibaldone) which will no doubt grant us many a night contemplating the universe and its beauty and the pain and "the vanity that pervades each and all".
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars descartes, January 30, 2011
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Jonathan A. Weiss (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
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A very nidely produced volume.Giacomo Leopardi is one of the worlds great and gloomiest poets well worthy of being well presented. Galassi has obviously worked hard on the daunting task of translation. It is very good that the book is bi-lingual with facing pages, owever, since he appears to make mistakes and sometimes miss nuances. For those who read Italian his translation may provide words and alternate ways to consider what is written, for those who know some Italian the cross reference can illuminate. Anyone interest in poetry should read this verse, and if possible, read it in Italian out loud for the rhyme and meter.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If I could take only five books to the desert ..., August 26, 2014
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LR. (Budapest, Hungary) - See all my reviews
If I could take only five books to the desert island, one of them would have to be Leopardi's Canti.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best translation of Leopardi in English EVER, October 25, 2012
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I believe this is the best translation of Leopardi's poems. You MUST get it and get to know this great italian poet who really pinpoints the nature of the huamn heart.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Modernity and its emotions, May 15, 2013
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Good translation of one of Europe's most significant 1800 poets. Yearning, longing, expressed in most beautiful euphony not lost in the English version. If you like Romanticism (Goethe, Keats, Shelley) you will find pleasure in this book I read the Italian aloud and my partner reads the English!
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0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Service and Good Value for the Money, January 22, 2013
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This review is from: Canti: Poems / A Bilingual Edition (Italian Edition) (Paperback)
The Book as advertised and delivered on schedule. I cannot speak to its content, as it was a gift for someone else. But the recipient was pleased with its quality.
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Canti: Poems / A Bilingual Edition (Italian Edition)
Canti: Poems / A Bilingual Edition (Italian Edition) by Giacomo Leopardi (Paperback - January 3, 2012)
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