Lecture | Something Rich and Strange: The Tempest

The next talk in the Literature and Comparison Research Seminar Series will be delivered by Dr Saverio Tomaiuolo, from Cassino University, tonight at 18:30 in the Old Humanities Building, Room 116 of the University of Malta.

The talk, entitled ‘Something Rich and Strange: Eduardo De Filippo Translating the Tempest’ should interest staff and students working in a range of areas in the humanities and the social sciences, particularly Italian literature, English literature and Translation Studies.

Dr Tomaiuolo teaches English Literature and Language at Cassino University, Italy. He has published a monograph on Alfred Tennyson’s narrative poems (Tennyson e il senso del narrare), and a book on translation theory (Ricreare in Lingua. La traduzione dalla poesia al testo multimediale).

He has also published articles and essays on Postmodernism and Victorian Literature (Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, G. M. Hopkins, Henry Wood, Henry James, R. L. Stevenson, Robert M. Pirsig and A.S. Byatt).

He has recently published a study on Mary Elizabeth Braddon entitled ‘In Lady Audley’s Shadow, Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Victorian Literary Genres’ (Edinburgh University Press, 2010).

The forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Sensation Fiction will include his contribution on the sensation novel and the Indian Mutiny. He is currently working on a new project provisionally entitled ‘The Imperfect Page: Victorian Unfinished Novels’.

Abstract for the talk

Eduardo De Filippo’s choice to translate ‘The Tempest’ in Italian (or rather in the Neapolitan dialect) in 1983, the year before he died, seems to reflect his desire to follow the dramatic and biographical steps of William Shakespeare, a dramatist he constantly referred to in the course of his career.

As far as De Filippo’s qualities as translator were concerned, he did not actually know English well, so he asked his wife Isabella Quarantotti to translate Shakespeare’s play almost literally.

However, in many interviews Isabella Quarantotti admitted to have also taken inspiration from previous literary translations.

Since the Neapolitan dialect is considered by many linguists as an independent language from Italian, the second step consisted of another form of ‘intralingual’ or better ‘interlingual’ translation from Isabella’s contemporary Italian into 17th century Neapolitan.

Given these premises, it is clear that De Filippo’s translation is to be intended as a complex and articulated target text which follows a peculiar translating itinerary.

Moreover, his recreation of Shakespeare’s drama (which includes references to Neapolitan culture, literature, music and food) and his ‘revolutionary’ dramatisation (according to which actors should be replaced by speaking marionettes) offer an occasion to reflect on the notions of ‘originality’ and ‘translations’, and to meditate on the instability of such categories in the so-called postmodern society.

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