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Daniela La Penna (University of Reading)

Strategies of Enstrangement in Amelia Rosselli's Translating Practice

In this paper I intend to survey the translating practice of Amelia Rosselli (Paris 1930 - Rome 1996), one of the most significant Italian poets of the twentieth century. Author of collections composed in a strangely idiosyncratic Italian (Variazioni belliche [1964], Serie ospedaliera [1969] and Documento [1973]) and English (Sleep [trans. Antonio Porta, 1989; trans. Emmanuela Tandello, 1992]), Rosselli is known for a daring linguistic experimentation with syntax and word - formation, for these and other aspects, her work has been compared to the poetry of Paul Celan and Samuel Beckett. Since her early poetic exercises composed in English, French and Italian and drafted in the fifties, Primi scritti 1952-1963 (1980), translation from and into English emerged as a key element to Rosselli's poetic experimentation. Rosselli translated Sylvia Plath (1985), Paul Evans (1991) and Emily Dickinson (1997). Despite being hailed as the most cosmopolitan of Italian poets, her translations from Dickinson were heavily criticized for their 'ugliness' and 'un-poetic' quality. I intend to concentrate on a selection of Rosselli's translations from Plath, Dickinson and Evans, and highlight the most significant stylistic aspects of her work. I shall do so by setting the most significant and striking translating strategies in the wider context of Rosselli's own self-translating praxis (she translated into Italian several of her English poems published in the various editions of Sleep). In addition to this, I shall also complement the analysis with recent archival research I have conducted on the Rosselli's papers held in Pavia and Viterbo, and discuss some hitherto unpublished commentaries on others' Italian translations from Joyce, Dickinson and Plath. By drawing on Lawrence Venuti's idea of foreignizing translation, I intend to show that Rosselli’s translating strategies are unique in the context of twentieth - century translation into Italian in that they consciously refrain from adhering to the decree that demand the translator's agency and identity erased and invisible from the translated artefact.

Daniela La Penna is Lecturer in Italian Studies at the University of Reading. She has co-edited, with Daniela Caselli, Twentieth-Century Poetic Translations: English and Italian Literary Cultures (London: Continuum, 2008) and is the author of La dinamica delle fonti nella poesia pluringue di Amelia Rosselli (Rome, Carocci, 2008).