The first complete translation of Leopardi's Zibaldone published in UK

Posted on Friday 9th August 2013

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The Newsweek Brainy Beach Reads says of Leopardi's Zibaldone, published last week, "You’ll need a few months on the beach for this one. Zibaldone is the legendary, immense notebook kept by the great 19th-century Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi that registers thousands of his ingenious responses to his reading on philosophy, literature, history, science, and love. This is not only a brainy read-this is the brain itself."

The first complete translation of Leopardi’s notebooks, under the auspices of the Leopardi Centre in Modern Languages at Birmingham, was published in the US on 9th July (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and in the UK on 1 August 2013 (Penguin).

UK cover of ZibaldonePublisher’s description of Giacomo Leopardi: the Zibaldone in English:

"An extraordinary, epochal, publication-one of the foundational books of modern Western culture, at last fully translated into English.

Giacomo Leopardi is widely recognized as Italy’s finest modern lyric poet, for many the greatest after Dante. He was also one of the most radical and challenging of nineteenth-century thinkers, acknowledged as such by readers from Nietzsche to Benjamin and Beckett. In some senses, his poems may be regarded as explications and explorations of his philosophical ideas, but the primary laboratory in which Leopardi cultivated, nurtured, tested, and refined his analyses and thoughts was his immense notebook, the Zibaldone di pensieri. It was here that the thinker and poet, who was also a prodigious scholar of classical literature and philosophy, with an intimate knowledge of several ancient and contemporary languages, put down his original, wide-ranging, radically modern responses to his reading. His comments about religion, philosophy, language, history, anthropology, the natural sciences, literature, poetry, and love are unprecedented in their brilliance and suggestiveness.

The Zibaldone was not published until the turn of the twentieth century, and only a small proportion of its 4,500-plus pages had before now been translated into English. With this new edition, a team led by Michael Caesar and Franco D’Intino, under the auspices of the Leopardi Centre at Birmingham, has brought the translation of the entire text, along with an extensive critical apparatus, to a successful conclusion. This essential book will open far-reaching new perspectives on nineteenth-century culture."

The publication of this exceptional translation has received great visibility nationally and internationally. The US publication was featured in Newsweek Brainy Beach Reads whilst The Guardian wrote about the most recent UK publication. It has also received large space in Italy in two of the major national newspapers: Corriere della Sera and Unità .

The Leopardi Centre at Birmingham is a part of Italian Studies, Department of Modern Languages.