By Frederick Burwick, Paul Douglass (eds.)
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Extra info for Dante and Italy in British Romanticism
In “Wordsworth’s Ariosto: Translation as Metatext and Misreading,” Laura Bandiera attacks Wordsworth’s “surprisingly inadequate M a r ily n G au l l 28 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. translation” “devoid of literary merits,” “disgusting licentiousness that poisons Ariosto,” a “parody,” that “debases and belittles” the text. Given Wordsworth’s repeated admiration for Ariosto, his taking it as the only text on his first journey over the Alps, using it to teach his sister Italian, and given that the translation was a personal exercise, never intended for publication or even for sharing, I don’t understand this criticism.
This point was not lost on Byron’s anonymous accuser in The Monthly Magazine: “The interest excited by the well-imagined sufferings of the hapless crew in the vessel in which Juan embarked, will not, I am sure, be at all diminished, but, on the contrary, increased, by learning that the horrors of such a scene were actually experienced by some of our fellow-creatures” (“Plagiarisms” 46 Nichol as H a l mi 19). As pure fiction, the cannibalism in Don Juan would be completely gratuitous, as it is in Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief.
And Tasso is their glory and their shame. Hark to his strain! and then survey his cell! And see how dearly earn’d Torquato’s fame, And where Alfonso bade his poet dwell: The miserable despot could not quell The insulted mind he sought to quench, and blend With the surrounding maniacs, in the hell Where he had plung’d it. Glory without end Scatter’d the clouds away—and on that name attend The tears and praises of all time. . 35–37) Projecting into the past a ventriloquized prophecy that he fulfills in his present pilgrimage to Ferrara, Byron implicitly not only identifies himself with Tasso but, in a sense, becomes the poet’s liberator, affirming his place in a cosmopolitan literary culture.
Dante and Italy in British Romanticism by Frederick Burwick, Paul Douglass (eds.)