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Translation and Decanonization: the American Manzoni

Michael F Moore, Princeton University
Monday, February 5, 2018 -
12:00pm to 1:30pm
144 Louis A. Simpson International Building
Monday, February 5, 2018 -
12:00pm to 1:30pm

Abstract: Canonical texts can seem more like objects of devotion than literary works. To convey their voice to a modern readership, the translator has to strip away the exegetical layers in which they are buried, like a restorer removing soot and dust from a fresco. The biggest challenge for the translator, in other words, is to develop a personal relationship with the work, despite and not because of the horizon of expectation inherent to the word “masterpiece.”

In this talk I will illustrate how I found an American voice for the great Italian novel, Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed (1842). By looking at the various drafts of the work, the final print edition, and the verbal, visual and sound landscapes the author creates, I have tried to put myself in his shoes, see what he sees, hear what he hears, and assimilate the rhythm and flow of his prose.

Michael F Moore is the new Translator in Residence at Princeton University. In addition to his translations of literary works and non-fiction, ranging from The Drowned and the Saved, by Primo Levi to Merchants in the Temple, by Gianluigi Nuzzi (of Vatileaks fame), he is an interpreter for the Italian Mission to the United Nations, working on issues of international law, peacekeeping, climate change, and human rights. The former chair of the PEN/Heim Translation Fund, he did his doctoral work on the fourteenth-century poet Francesco Petrarca and has a diploma in sculpture from the Brera Fine Arts Academy of Milan.

Sponsored by
The Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication