(by Alessandra Baldini) (ANSA) – NEW YORK, 19 SEPTEMBER – The last work of Italo Svevo, the last translation by Frederika Randall. The writer from Trieste, victim of a car accident at the age of 66, left unfinished the collection of chapters later collected in the volume “Il Vegliardo” and which could have formed the basis for one or perhaps two new novels. Not so Randall that she put an end to the new English version of the volume a few days before she died, in May 2020, at the age of 72. “A Very Old Man”: this is the title that the American from Pennsylvania – journalist in Italy for ‘The Nation’, New York Times and Wall Street Journal, ANSA and the International, as well as a literary woman – gave to the translation just released in the US.
Why retranslate the last Svevo after the version by Ben Johnson and PN Furbank with the title ‘The Further Confessions of Zeno’? “The Italian, now a hundred years old, was of his time”, explains Frederika in a posthumous note attached to the translation: “It must be anchored to a register that is not hyper-contemporary, but sounds more modern than the English version. of 1969 “. Published in the series ‘New York Review of Books Classics’, ‘Il Vegliardo’ follows the monumental English version of “The Confessions of an Italian” by Ippolito Nievo (over a thousand pages in 18 months) addressed by Randall as an antidote to Berlusconism, but also avant-garde writings such as ‘Dissipatio HG’ by Guido Morselli and, by the same author ‘The Communist’. And then the fiction by Giacomo Sartori (the autobiographical ‘Anatomia di una Battaglia’ and ‘I am God’), Helena Janeczek (‘Lessons of darkness’) and the non-fiction by Sergio Luzzatto, Luigi Meneghello, and Igiaba Scego, works , as she said “bordering on the untranslatable” and that “they constitute a challenge to what non-Italians know about life in Italy” or “to what we consider a memoir, a novel, a work of history”. Frederika had spent most of her adult life in Italy. “She loved to call herself a ‘dispatriate’, with a term meant to suggest a deliberate distance from her country of origin and her long history of debacle in foreign policy,” said Geoffrey Brock, editor of the literary magazine ‘The Arkansas International ‘which two years ago collected a series of tributes including that of Jhumpa Lahiri. The writer of ‘Interprete dei malanni’ but also ‘Dove mi Trovo’ who chose Italian as a new language in which to express her creativity and then began to translate, shares an email that Frederika had sent her at the beginning of Covid, two months before his death: “All in all, I would be happy if I had to leave this life in Italy, the adopted country, and not my native one. Thought that may seem gloomy, but instead it is the solemn recognition of what I owe to Italy and Italian. ” (HANDLE).
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