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Product Details

Archipelago Books
Publish Date
5.4 X 6.4 X 0.8 inches | 0.5 pounds

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About the Author

Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970) was born in Alexandria to Italian settlers--his father was a laborer working on the Suez Canal and his mother ran a bakery. Ungaretti left for Paris to study at the Sorbonne, where he befriended Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Valéry, Picasso, Braque, and Léger. Ungaretti wrote his first book of poetry while serving in the Italian Army in World War I. From 1936 until 1942, he taught Italian literature at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. After the death of his nine-year-old son, Ungaretti published a collection of poems, Il dalore, which expressed both tragic personal loss and horror at the atrocities of Nazi Germany. Ungaretti translated Shakespeare, William Blake, and Racine into Italian, among others. He died in Milan in 1970.

Geoffrey Brock was born in Atlanta and holds an MFA from the University of Florida and a PhD from UPenn. He has won multiple prizes for his original poetry, including the New Criterion Poetry Prize. For his translations, which include work by Cesare Pavese and Umberto Eco, Brock has won Poetry magazine's John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the MLA's Lois Roth Translation Award, and the PEN Center USA award for translation.


"In their comparative abstraction, melancholy timbre and interest in the passing of time, Ungaretti's early poems are in the tradition of Leopardi ... his decisive novelty in Italian - the tiny lines, the absence of punctuation, the consequent focus on each individual word - owes more to the stimulus of Mallarmé and Apollinaire ... His crystalline poems often emerged from a process of cutting; in his work ... the placing of words has an almost pictorial suggestiveness." -Matthew Reynolds, London Review of Books
"Ungaretti's poetry, born in the ordeal of World War I and its trenches ... marked a turning point in modern Italian literature." -Glauco Cambon
"Ungaretti purged the language of all that was but ornament, of all that was too approximate for the precise tension of his line. Through force of tone and sentiment, and a syntax stripped to its essential sinews, he compelled words to their primal power." -Allen Mandelbaum
"One of the most authentic poets of Western Europe." -T. S. Eliot