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Monday, August 25, 2014

A monument to Translation

While visiting Lucca together with Nivalis of the Magic Trio, in the church of Saint Frediano we happily chanced to come across the monument to the great Italian translator of Milton's Paradise Lost, Lazzaro Papi. His version, first published in 1811, unashamedly abridged and Catholicized, is -- in spite of this -- so powerful that it made Yours Truly a Milton fan forever. A detail in the monument (see above) recalls his great literary enterprise. As to the statue of the personage himself, it is a classic neo-classical 'anonymous' bust that could portray anybody: Julius Caesar, Dante, Napoleon, . . .

The inscription reads: La[z]zaro Papi, a Colonel for the Britons in Bengal, then a praised writer of verses and historical essays, [a man] of frail luck because of his great prudence and goodness, lived 71 years, honored and loved; his friends made this monument to him in 1835.