By concentrating more on catching the spirit rather than the letter of the originals he did, in fact, succeed in enlarging vicariously his own experience, especially during those rare moments when he fully identified himself with the inner feelings of others. Cases of such identification, for instance, are to be found in his translations from Sappho and Alcaeus, because the poetry of both left a definite mark on his own work.
Other examples of stylistic gains come from the syntactical or rhetorical patterns inherited from classical texts, notably classical Latin originals. In all probability he learned through the mediation of these influences that he learned, at least partially, to shake off his hermetic straitjacket and base his themes and melodies on deeper lyrical patterns. From the vantage point of chronological perspective in relation to that poetic school, one can say that whereas Ungaretti could qualify as a baroque hermetic, and Montale as an essential hermetic, Quasimodo, the last of the hermetic poets, seems to have been a classical hermetic.
In the case of Quasimodo this fabulous, mythical land is the land of the orange blossoms, Sicily. The Mediterranean Quasimodo, lost in an ultramodern city, submerged in comfort and technological gadgetry—an alienating universe from the simple world of his childhood—felt intimately related to that past land of his dreams. This attitude can be seen—and for some critics this would mean a limitation of his poetry—in the repetitions of certain key words that became commonplace in his first books, such as deserti deserts , paradiso paradise , stelle stars , notte night , vento wind , and mare sea.
According to this interpretation, Quasimodo expressed his nostalgia for a lost paradise with a series of commonplaces. On the other hand, this approach could indicate the limitations of criticism solely concerned with style. That is why it is so important to identify the poetic moment that supercedes the nostalgic longing and actually testifies to a poetic redemption of that Mediterranean paradise of ancient times. With Quasimodo, Italian poetry has regained the vigor of the Mediterranean world of the Magna Graecia, which still survives in southern Italy, with her sea, her rocks, and her cities, and mirrors the intimate soul of the poet, its interpreter.
His translations are, in one sense, interpretations, succeeding in bringing back the ancient text and giving it a present-day tonality and flavor, in words and phrases chosen to preserve the original vigor of connotations and analogies. After Romanticism, literary criticism became concerned with the dimension of time, from a linguistic point of view.
According to this linguistic dimension, the critic can place a given poetic text in its precise historical and cultural context. This quality of modern literary criticism has been applied to the lyrical creative process, which in its turn has acquired a critical dimension of its own, so that the poetic text can and does bring forth the essential character of a cultural phenomenon, chosen as his lyrical target by the poet. In the case of an ancient text, this method worked splendidly for Quasimodo, since his translations aspire to be actually updated versions of the original work: the translator has sought to give new life and relevancy to these works for the benefit of his contemporary reader.
This quality of updating ancient texts, so evident in his translations, was a decisive dimension of his evolution as an original poet. Quasimodo succeeded, perhaps better than anyone else, in expressing for a twentieth-century audience the telluric presence of the Mediterranean world and achieving through that expression a universal dimension achieved through the use of archetypes and myths. What readers still admire today in the work of the Sicilian poet is that feeling of a newly discovered landscape of the world in its primeval vigor, without intermediate reflections, so that one has the impression that the only man alive is Ulysses and the only trip that counts is his journey to the ideal Ithaca.
Modern Italian literature has frequently dealt with the myth of Ulysses, because in it one can mirror the alienation of modern man, who has abandoned his native land for a Utopian dream but has found himself in the midst of wars and violence, of the denial of permanent values of civilized man, in the shadow of hatred and tyranny.
The myth is still the same, but the man has changed. This man is still looking for his own roots, but instead he finds himself trapped by a way of life that he has neither chosen nor can change. For Giovanni Pascoli, Ulysses is the man beloved by the goddess, Calypso, who departs for his last destination in order to see again, at the end of his life, the place of an unknown happiness.
For Umberto Saba, Ulysses is a traveler who has not kept a place for the only woman who loved him.
For Quasimodo, Ulysses is the symbol of Mediterranean man, whom he conceives as a dimension of every man and, at the same time, as an impossible archetype, gradually and inexorably transformed by the advancing technological society. But one can discount a direct relationship between his outspoken political views and his innermost lyrical vocation.
The link between the two is the philosophical search for the essence of the Mediterranean man.
Un ballo in maschera libretto (English/Italian) - opera by Giuseppe Verdi
For Quasimodo the linguistic search of hermeticism was enriched by the philosophical search in his humanistic poetry. Linguistics and philosophy go hand in hand, so the linguistic sign carries a philosophical content. The lesson of Giambattista Vico had been that all language is metaphorical. Behind each word there is an original attitude.
When linguistics discovers an ontological message in a word, it converges into philosophy. The principle of the search for the deeper meaning of a word is a fundamental method of any translator. In Quasimodo left his engineering job with the army because Arnoldo Mondadori hired him as drama editor for the weekly Tempo.
DI MIELE CON INGANNO Original (PDF)
Then, in , he moved to Milan to become professor of Italian literature at Conservatory Giuseppe Verdi. Le allegorie si erano dissolte nella solitu-dine della ditta tura. The allegories had vanished in the solitude of the dictatorship. It is possible that Quasimodo wanted to see it that way, because it provided him with a new ideological identity, since his contribution to the anti-Fascist movement was much less decisive than that of other Italian writers and intellectuals of his own generation, such as Giacomo Matteotti , Ignazio Silone , and Benedetto Croce.
The truth was probably much more complex than that. Once Italy lost the world war and the country plunged into a state of virtual civil war, with the North controlled by the Germans and the South by the Allied forces, all the sympathies of the Italian people went out to those who had resisted fascism even at the height of its power. In the postwar era hardly anyone in Italy argued the right of the Communists to be the moral voice of the nation. One of the most fascinating chapters in Italian history ensued.
Anxious to regain respectability, the northern capitalistic bourgeoisie, which had profited and prospered during the Fascist regime but had also supported the war effort, began to support the leftist intelligentsia, knowing how literary prizes, academic posts, and prestigious positions would be coveted by the intellectuals, writers, artists, musicians, and poets who would become aware that an ideological realignment was necessary for most of them, who had lacked the courage and the vision of Matteotti, Silone, or Croce.
Communist propaganda made the most of this change, encouraging it and supporting it with a visible campaign in its publications and its cultural policies, especially within the influential movie industry, which was soon totally dominated by the Left. The postwar years were decisive in the restructuring and reorganization of the cultural institutions and academies of Italy, including the universities. Clearly, in such an environment no artist would ever succeed if left to his own devices. Without the support of an influential leftist group, no verses would be effective.
Ultimately, Marxist critics claimed Quasimodo as one of their own, while justifying the moral committment already implied in the considerations of the Swedish Academy when it decided to award him the Nobel Prize in The compositions of Giorno dopo giorno represent this new humanism, understood as the interpretation of a nation, its moral voice. There is a sophisticated double level of connotations, both pointing out the renunciation of hermeticism. The first level is a denunciation of the brutality of war in general, and, in particular, the civil war that devastated northern Italy after the armistice of 8 September between Italy and the Allied nations.
The poet also is an anguished witness of the carnage and destruction of war, and his usual style is no longer justified; his hermeticism, like the lyre offered by the poet to assuage the sorrow of his countrymen, is buffeted by the sad winds of war. To this first connotative level, one can add a second, which becomes the melodic structure of the new style, hinged on the hendecasyllabic tonality of the whole poem, which is at the same time a classical retreat and a reassuring foray into the consoling harmony of the highest tradition of solemn Italian poetry, demanding a role in the somber, almost funereal landscape of the apocalyptic vision of Quasimodo:.
The biblical tone confers on the poems the extra ethical authority required, after the empty rhetoric of fascism, to spread a message of solidarity equally pleasing to the Left and to progressive Catholics. In fact, the essential style of the book was something of a novelty, although illustrious models could be found, especially in Dante, Girolamo Savonarola , and Leopardi. None of the subsequent books would achieve the same popularity. The solemn enumeration recalls the nostalgic verses of Acque e terre, but there is an almost narrative tonality, which allows for a resigned solution to the conflict that dominated his early poetry.
Era sconvolto, aveva il respiro accelerato per la violenta emozione. Fino ad allora aveva considerato quel giorno come il mo- mento in cui tutto era finito. Adesso in quello stesso giorno tutto ricominciava.
Jean Marc de Ponthieu stava per tornare a casa. Anche Daniel taceva impressionato. Era una cosa incredibile, inverosimile, eppure il muro dietro le loro spalle era tangibile, il fumo intenso irritava i polmoni e lasciava un gusto aspro in bocca. Scosse la testa.
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Si appiattirono nel buio e tratten- nero il fiato. Ian e Daniel videro i tre sbarazzarsi rapidamente del saio e rivelare gli abiti scuri che portavano sotto. Sui loro fianchi brillarono le fibbie metalliche delle cinture in cui erano infilati i pugnali. Si guardavano le spalle di tanto in tanto, mentre si allontanavano in fretta, inosservati in tanta confusione. Ian si riscosse di colpo.
Li aveva riconosciuti subito.
Stavano abbandonando il campo, certi di aver compiuto la loro missione. Due anni e mezzo consumati giorno dopo giorno, cercando un motivo per andare avanti quando credeva di aver perso tutto per sempre. I due rimasero immobili a lungo, con le orecchie tese per captare anche il minimo rumore. Quando Daniel fece capolino fuori, vide il luogo deserto: i sicari erano scomparsi. Si rivolse a Ian, arrabbiato. Siamo disarmati e loro erano in tre! A parole? La- sciali andare, non puoi prenderli!
Stava per rivedere Isabeau. Dopo una separazione infinita stava per riaverla tra le braccia. A ogni passo il cuore accelerava come se stesse per esplo- dere. Eccolo, il cortile in cui era stato aggredito, contornato dalle colonne di pietra chiara, decorate semplicemente. Come un sonnambulo, mise piede nel prato basso e cu- rato fino a un punto preciso. Un punto che aveva ancora scol- pito nella memoria. Il chiostro non era a contatto con gli altri edifici in fiamme e il fuoco non ardeva sui tetti ma in basso tra le porte di legno: non era stato portato dal vento e allora come?
Qualcuno ha appiccato il fuoco anche qui? Anche da dietro, Daniel lo vide irrigi- dirsi in modo evidente. Ian si accorse appena di lui. Era sangue, il suo stesso sangue ancora fresco caduto nel luogo in cui era stato pugnalato. Ian si riscosse dal suo stato di trance per alzare gli occhi. Sembrava non sapere che fare. Aveva i capelli rossi scarmigliati sul viso bianco e lucido di sudore. Si abbracciarono in tre con forza, come ritrovandosi su- perstiti dopo un naufragio.
Il suo stato di tensione era evidente e la faceva tremare. Lo guardava con gli occhi dilatati per la profonda tensione, scrutandolo incredula come se alla luce avesse visto qualcosa che non aveva notato prima. Donna era sgomenta.