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Friday, March 7, 2014

Leopardian Interlude (8)

[Giacomo Leopardi's Dialogue between Torquato Tasso and His Home Genius, 1824; follows]

TASSO   If this is the medicine, I will be content with being bored all my life.(*) And yet, the variety of activities, of business and feelings, even without freeing us from boredom because it doesn't bring true joys, can anyway make it a bit lighter. But in this prison, far from any relationship with my fellow humans, even unable to write anything, (**) being reduced to pass time paying attention to the clock beating, and numbering the ceiling beams, the cracks, the woodworms, and gazing at the brick floor, and playing with the butterflies and gnats flying across the room, and spending almost all hours in the same way . . .  I have nothing helping me to diminish the weight of boredom.

GENIUS   Tell me, for how much time have you been reduced to this lifestyle?

TASSO  Several weeks, you know this.

GENIUS    From the first day up until now, haven't you noticed any difference in the annoyance of it?

TASSO   Sure, it was greater in the beginning. Now, little by little, my mind -- with no other occupation and no recreation -- is getting more and more used to talking to itself, and more amused by it than before. It is acquiring the habit and virtue of speaking to itself, jabbering indeed, so that so that I often think there's a group of people having a conversation in my head, and any slightest topic presenting itself to my thought suffices to create a big discussion within myself.

. . .  to be continued . . .

(*) This sentence may have been inserted by Leopardi to prevent censorship.
(**) During the first months, possibly the first whole year, in which he was there.