Skip to content
Paperback Leopardi: Selected Poems Book

ISBN: 0691016445

ISBN13: 9780691016443

Leopardi: Selected Poems

Select Format

Select Condition ThriftBooks Help Icon


Format: Paperback

Condition: Like New

Save $21.76!
List Price $27.95
Almost Gone, Only 1 Left!

Book Overview

These translations of the major poems of Giacomo Leopardi (1798--1837) render into modern English verse the work of a writer who is widely regarded as the greatest lyric poet in the Italian literary tradition. In spite of this reputation, and in spite of a number of nineteenth-and twentieth-century translations, Leopardi's poems have never "come over" into English in such a way as to guarantee their author a recognition comparable to that of other...

Related Subjects

Literature & Fiction Poetry

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

"But wherefore give him life?"

First, I cannot comment on this particular translation, as I read and studied the Canti in Italian - so my 5 stars ought to be taken cum grano salis. Not being able to review this edition, should I be so silly to give "stars" to Leopardi himself? In fact, it would be rather silly of me to attempt, here, in a few lines, a short literary criticism of the work of one of the greatest poets in Italian language as well as a giant of human thought. Libraries can be filled with books on this enfant prodige, who as a child would toy with greek, latin and hebrew philology, write tragedies, essays on theology, histories of astronomy - as Italo Calvino puts it, when he writes a poem on the moon, Leopardi knows precisely well what he is talking about - or could forge a Callimachus and fool the world authorities on ancient greek literature. His Zibaldone di Pensieri ("Eggnog of thoughts") anticipates contemporary philosophy from Schopenhauer to Nietzsche to Heidegger - indeed it anticipates the contemporary age; his entire work is like a big bang, and contains in nuce future existentialism, nihilism, ontology. So, I will just rant a little about what of Leopardi speaks to me personally. Men are not created equal. I hold this truth to be self evident. So did Leopardi. He knew he was not one of the "greggia", not on of the sheep he envied. Some of us are different, as he tells us. There are people that can experience in advance what our kind will explore in the future centuries. And most of them burn, like fuses burn. We watch them fall with an admixture of admiration, horror and awe - as the tragic chorus watches Oedipus. That is why I do not believe that "Cosmic Pessimism" is a good label for Leopardi. Sure, that would attract a teenager, and indeed at seventeen, I myself could not open his Canti without reading all of them, many times, usually ending up at late night, early morning. But what is truly universal about Leopardi is his incredible sensitivity for the "being", his "esprit de finesse". He does not "understand" the infinite. He can feel it, as a revelation. In "L'Infinito" he describes - as a real, physical experience - the simplification of the universe to the cosmic equation that brahmanism would write as Brahman=Ataman (without him knowing anything of the Upanishad): But sitting here, and watching here, in thought, I create interminable spaces, greater than human silences, and deepest quiet, where the heart barely fails to terrify. (...) and I remember the eternal and the dead seasons, and the living present and its sound (...) Shipwreck can be sweet in the sea of the absolute, as it is to drown thoughts in this immensity; but as Leopardi points his eyes into its depths, reality poses him radical questions. At the end, Leopardi answers are notoriously horrific: Nature as a stepmother, and not a good one. Cruelty as at the core of the being. Men, women, children, no more valuable or respected than ants. And life itself the crazy

beautiful poetic pessimism

giacomo leopardi is an incredibly fascinating and yet somewhat obscure figure, and anyone who avoids his poetry because of it's pessimism or nihilism is really missing out. at times he becomes unbearably depressing and this is certainly a turn off past a point, but we should admire him nonetheless for his candor and commitment to expressing what he believed was truth. his bleak outlook on human life, contrary to popular belief, did not necessarily stem from his individual misfortunes (such as becoming a hunchback) or personal misery. he was simply a brilliant, lucid man who was aware that human life is ephemeral and without ultimate justification or meaning. anyone with the slightest bit of poetic or philosophical sensitivity to the nearly unfathomable miracle of the world and our lives can immediately understand where he is coming from. in any case, whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, you cannot afford to miss out on leopardi's work.

Leopardi Afresh

... The great Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837) is radiant again in a fresh translation, "Leopardi: Selected Poems" ... that appeared just as Iris Origo's marvelous 1935 biography, "Leopardi, A Study in Solitude" ... was reissued. Leopardi's birth into an aristocratic Tuscan family was no protection against a case of scoliosis that left him hunchbacked, a permanent invalid, unlovable in the eyes of any woman he might come to love. Yet his poetic world is often as enchanting and full of health as a convalescent's, for whom all things come alive, and "roofs and meadows and little hills / Are shining in the sun." Leopardi celebrates such moments of renewal and delight, though his self-forgetful pleasures always return him to a lonely prison. But this is the human condition, not just the poet's. Nature "drives all things to their destruction," the "feast-day is over in a flash, / The work-day comes on, and time takes away / All we are and do." So, he asks, why not love one another? Why turn cold or quarrel, when death sweeps everyone into darkness?

Cosi` tra questa immensita` s'annega il pensier mio...

Introducing a poet who divulged the voice of exclusion seems a bit of a paradox, yet it is precisely what his valiant translator seems to suggest to be doing given the relative want of interest that presently he has been receiving in the U.S. The translation is successfully carried out to the extent that the mood is respected and the melancholy distance is imparted rather faithfully. The resulting exposition of Leopardi's inestimable poetry bears the stamp of a poet who is in tune with his subject and displays considerable lyrical dexterity. However for all the agility that is here employed - so as to reproduce a work akin with the original - as always it inevitably does not do justice to the tremor that transpires through the Italian undulating and langorous resonance. The syntax is also essential to understanding the reach of this poet that only Holderlin, Rilke and Trakl may be said to have deployed a similar structural approach. Giorgio Agamben's book "Language and Death," would be a good source for English readers to "get a feel" of the poet's startling implosion of loss; the subtle fragility of his theory of noia (tedium); the whole of it punctuated with and surging, tentalizing strokes that emerge in the illuminations of village damsels, of frolicsome lads or of the naively insouciant Silvia. The poems herein abound with familiar illustrations of pastoral life and of the sublime that most all Romantic poets resorted to; The fashion in which Leopardi was able to express such aloofness and despair is tragic, brilliant and engagingly dispassionate. In the words of Oliver Goldsmith: "We cannot hesitate to say that in almost every branch of mental exertion, this extraordinary man seems to have had the capacity of attaining, and generally at a single bound, the very highest exellence. Whatever he does, he does in manner that makes it his own; not with a forced or affected, but a true originality. stamping on his work, like other masters, a type that defies all counterfeit." Amoungst others Nietzsche had the daring to translate Leopardi's poetry. These poets shared much more than simply a common profession in Philology...they were far too profound for anyone to fathom the abyss which they ceaselessly foundered within so as to dolcify the excesses of our tragic sense of life.
Copyright © 2023 Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Do Not Sell/Share My Personal Information | Cookie Policy | Cookie Preferences | Accessibility Statement
ThriftBooks® and the ThriftBooks® logo are registered trademarks of Thrift Books Global, LLC
GoDaddy Verified and Secured