When a literary translation aims not only at making a canonical text accessible in another language, but also at representing a peculiar cultural milieu as a model to be revived in a very different country and age, the process of transposition involves a complex mediation. The ‘transferral’ of the Vita Nuova (circa 1293) by Dante Alighieri from the Middle Ages to the mid-nineteenth century and from Italy to England can be defined as a challenging journey between cultures and epochs. Presenting thirteenth-and fourteenth-century Italian poetry to a Victorian audience involved reconstructing a socio-cultural context which was known only to scholars of Italian culture and Italophiles. The Early Italian Poets From Ciullo D’Alcamo to Dante Alighieri (1100-1200-1300) (1847-48, published 1861) can be defined as a wide cultural project of appropriation and re-conceptualisation of the Due and Trecento, which Dante Gabriel Rossetti accomplished both for his own aesthetic enjoyment and for the benefit of the Victorians. It may sound hyperbolical, but the Preface, the Table of Poets in Part I, and the Introduction to Part II explore a selection of poems representative of the Scuola Siciliana and the Dolce Stil Novo, focus on Dante’s early work and its relations to the Divine Comedy, and retrace crucial episodes in the development and decline of the Communes and rise of the Signoria. The Early Italian Poets thus surpasses the boundaries of a translation: it is an original poetical creation and also a critical study that activates a cultural mediation. Its multi-layeredness can be comprehended by delving into the modes Rossetti devised for connecting his interpretation of amorous passion, as differently expressed by the Dolce Stil Novo poets and by Dante in the Vita Nuova, with his appreciation of Italy in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Though Dante’s native country was in the midst of political strife, for Rossetti the high standard of its culture was to be regarded as a paragon for Victorian England. The impact of Rossetti’s ‘re-mediation’ of the Due and Trecento can be estimated first of all by considering that he produced the first translation of the Vita Nuova in rhymed verse and original metres. While various critical editions had been published in previous centuries, no translations appeared up to 1835. Completed by Charles Lyell in 1830 and published five years later, the first partial translation testifies to the author’s exclusive interest in Dante’s poetry; indeed, The Canzoniere of Dante Alighieri, Including the Poems of the Vita Nuova and Convito; Italian and English excludes prose. Moreover, Lyell disregards the peculiarity of Dante’s prosimetrum and chooses to adopt arbitrary, and questionable, editing criteria: the table of contents presents poetical works organized in alphabetical order and includes the poems composed for the Vita Nuova, the canzoni of the Convito and the poems of the Canzoniere. Puzzled by the odd juxtaposition of titles, an editing rule for which Lyell offers no explanation, readers fail to appreciate the unique articulation of the original text. Multi-layered figurations and polysemy are distinctive features of the Dolce Stil Novo, which the twenty-years-old Rossetti assimilated, interpreted according to his own aesthetic purposes, and re-created for an English-speaking audience. Re-writing thirteenth-century Italian rhymes into mid-nineteenth-century English thus involved metabolising medieval representations of spirituality and spiritual female figures imbued with allegorical and symbolical meanings, and devising a personal poetics. While moulding mid-nineteenth-century English in order to render the close interplay of verses and prose through which Dante had created an entwinement of unparalleled originality, Rossetti interwove the formation of his own aesthetic taste with a demanding act of cultural representation. The first draft of the translation, which can be dated to the years 1847-1848, first circulated among the Pre-Raphaelite Brethren and the attachés of his literary and artistic circle, then among more renowned writers, to whom he was as yet unknown. His project spanned years and required sustained intellectual effort, because, while getting in tune with diverse poets, apprehending their stylistic peculiarities, focusing on Dante’s personality in his twenties and rendering the conjunction of prose and poetry, he reconstructed biographical and historical events in order to bring into focus numerous artistic identities and relate them to their context.
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|Titolo:||Journeying through Translation: Dante among the Victorians, Dante Gabriel Rossetti in Medieval Italy|
|Autori interni:||SPINOZZI, Paola|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2009|
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