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Monday, September 21, 2015

The other Vasco, not Rossi




In 1945, when the social and economical situation in Italy was even 'a bit' worse than now, a publishing house called UTET -- still existing, a specialist in high profile works -- published this edition of Camões' Lusiads. The national poem of Portugal, written in the 1560s and devoted to Vasco Da Gama's enterprises, is currently almost unknown in Italy, though it probably had better days in the 19th century. This UTET version, curiously enough, is in prose, while following the text carefully and preserving the stanza numbers.

In spite of a translation that honestly did not turn out gorgeous, the book must be praised for its attempt to widen the cultural horizon of Italians. Other foreign books made it in the first half of the 20th century, especially Moby-Dick, that has become a Classic in this country too, from then on.

The best Italian version of The Lusiads is probably the one by Mercedes La Valle, published by Guanda in 1965.