The Browning Montale Transference – Tom D’Egidio
Date Wednesday, October 12, 2022
Place Westbeth Community Room
155 Bank St. NYC
The NY Browning Society will begin its 116th season with a live illustrated lecture on the relationship of Eugenio Montale to Robert Browning, to take place on Montale’s birthday, October 12th, 2022.
The lecture, titled “The Browning/Montale Transference”, will be given by poet and translator Tom d’Egidio in the Westbeth Community Room, 155 Bank St., between West St. & Washington St., in Manhattan, at 6:00pm.
The lecture will be free and open to the public.
Light refreshments will be served.
Italian poet Eugenio Montale was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature of 1975.
Despite the best efforts of his translators, including Robert Lowell, who called him
“one of the best poets alive”, he was largely unknown in the English-speaking world
at the time of that great honor.
His fellow Nobel Prize winner Joseph Brodsky said of his “Piccolo Testamento”
that it “easily matches Yeat’s “Second Coming “; and the power of his poetry has
been compared with that of the Eliot of “The Four Quartets”, the Valery of “Cemetery
By The Sea”, and the Rilke of “The Duino Elegies”.
A poet difficult even for his fellow Italians, who may well keep a dictionary handy
while wrestling with his tricky syntax, Montale from the start did not seem to come
out of any Italian poetic tradition.
And yet, difficult and serious as Montale is, Martin Seymour-Smith singled out his
“Dora Markus” as “one of the most beautiful love poems of all time”.
Unusual for an Italian poet of his generation, Montale was an Anglophile who
read poetry in English and translated Eliot into Italian. As a young man in the
1920s, he also made visits to Ezra Pound, then living on the Italian Riviera, in order
to get Pound’s views on Browning, the views of a poet who called Browning his
“father”. It was during the period of these visits to Pound that Montale began writing
poems in the form of dramatic portraits. And it is also when Montale, a native of
Genoa, moved to Florence, declaring his intention to live there “with the detachment
of a foreigner, of a Robert Browning”.
The youthful Montale’s poetry and the poet himself struck fellow Italians as alien.
It’s easy to imagine him as the “falso inglese” he describes in a short story. Early on
Montale had discovered a way to double himself, a process that many poets have
“The Browning/Montale Transference” will examine some of Montale’s most
important poems, and attempt to trace the influence of Browning in them, while
illuminating aspects of both these poets who are notable for their fascinating
difficulty and amazing beauty.
Tom d’Egidio, poet & translator, is Director-At-Large of the NY Browning Society.
His talk on contemporary Roman poet Valerio Magrelli (described by Magrelli
himself as “bella, attenta, vivace e pepata” (“beautiful, attentive, lively & peppery”),
given in conjunction with National Translation Month on September 29, 2021, is
viewable on YouTube as part of “Four Poets And Their Translations”.
He is at work on a novel set in the downtown Manhattan bohemian scene (Jean-
Michel Basquiat et al.) of circa 1980. His chapbook “The Enigma of Arrival” is
available from UNDERGROUND BOOKS.ORG
This event is in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute in New York, we hope you will join us for this presentation to open our 116th Season.