“Over my thirty years in Italy I have often been told by uninitiated English friends what a beautiful and harmonious language Italian is; but that is Italian as heard by an ear accustomed to English sound patterns. To the Italian ear, and to mine these days, much of what is said in Italian grates. One hears the language differently when one knows it.”—
The best things I read this year have not yet been translated into English. One was Il tempo materiale, by Gorgio Vasta. First published in 2010 in Italy, Il tempo materiale tells the story of Sicilian schoolkids in the late 70s, who, fascinated by the Red Brigades’ rhetoric, take it as a guideline for their everyday lives… . And if you do not mind that your reading comes along with a little mud-wrestling, then Perrudja is the book for you.
Written in the late 20s by cult-writer-without-a-cult Hans-Henny Jahnn (musician, architect, guru of an androgynous colony of artists, and a total maverick of the mind), this book is just how I like them – able to turn my brain inside out. Imagine Ibsen’sPeer Gynt rewritten four-handedly by a bisexual Joyce and a mystical Musil, and you’re about halfway there… .
Je m’apercevais que ce livre essentiel, le seul livre vrai, un grand écrivain n’a pas, dans le sens courant, à l’inventer puisqu’il existe déjà en chacun de nous, mais à le traduire. Le devoir et la tâche d’un écrivain sont ceux d’un traducteur.
[Translation: I realised that this essential book, the only true book, though in the ordinary sense of the word it does not have to be “invented” by a great writer—for it exists already in each one of us—has to be translated by him.The function and task of a writer are those of a translator.]