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24 July 2023

Italo Calvino in the World: Visual Translations

Italo Calvino is one of the best known, most widely read and therefore translated Italian writers in the world. The first translation into a foreign language is in French and dates from 1955: it is that of Il visconte dimezzato (The Cloven Viscount). Although France is, for biographical reasons (the writer lived in Paris for thirteen years) but above all for poetic reasons, the country most congenial to Calvino’s circulation and success, his books have been translated into many other countries and languages: from Bulgarian to Brazilian, from Basque to Russian, from Czech to Swedish, from Greek to Croatian, from Hebrew to Japanese, from Chinese to Polish, to name but a few. Among his most translated titles are Se una note d’inverno un viaggiatore (If on a winter’s night a traveller), Le città invisibili (Invisible Cities), Palomar, Il barone rampante (The Baron in the Trees), Fiabe italiane (Italian Folktales) and Le cosmicomiche (Cosmicomics).

It was in Paris, in 1995, that the first Fondo Calvino Tradotto was created, starting with a gift from Esther Singer Calvino to the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, which at the time was directed by Paolo Fabbri – the creator of the project. The original nucleus of the Fondo Tradotto has been enriched over the course of time, to the point of now counting some 530 translations preserved in the ‘Babelic’ rooms of the Hôtel de Galliffet.

As far as Italy is concerned, since 2017 the first foreign editions of Calvino’s books have been kept in the Fondo Italo Calvino (which until 2015 bore the name of Fondo Calvino Tradotto) and is now deposited at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Rome. This book collection, which comes from the writer’s personal library in his home in Rome – again a donation from Esther Singer Calvino and Giovanna Calvino –, includes the first foreign editions kept by Calvino himself and those collected by Esther Singer Calvino since 1985, and is still constantly updated with new publishing releases.

For Calvino, ‘translating is the true way of reading a text […] for an author, reflecting on the translation of his own text, discussing it with the translator, is the true way of reading himself, of understanding well what he has written and why’. Translation, therefore, is an extremely important and delicate operation in the life of a literary work. And indeed, the writer, who closely follows the editorial processes and events of his own books (and in particular the translation, especially in the languages he has mastered, i.e. French, English and Spanish) considers the translated text to be inevitably ‘impoverished, flattened’. At the same time, it is not surprising that Calvino had a privileged relationship with intellectuals such as William Weaver and François Wahl, who were not only his translators, but precisely other eyes with which to reread and observe his pages from a new perspective.

Even the covers determine, accompanying it, the life of a book. It is known that Calvino, in the words of Giulio Bollati ‘an excellent cover creator’, often chose or participated in choosing the covers of his books. For the first Einaudi editions, he favoured works by Paul Klee and Pablo Picasso; to these names were added those of René Magritte, Maurits Cornelis Escher, Albrecht Dürer, and even Saul Steinberg and Sergio Tofano. As time went by, the covers, ‘thresholds’ of the book – to use Genette’s words – became veritable paradigms of reading. This is the case, for example, with the dust jacket of Collezione di sabia (Collection of sand), a visual Calvinian work par excellence, published by Garzanti in 1984, which represents one of the “fish-eyes” of the Codex Seraphinianus reviewed in the book.

The exhibition that follows presents a selection of covers of foreign editions of Calvino’s books, from the Fondo Calvino Tradotto in Paris (as can be seen from the labels visible on the volumes), with the aim of highlighting them as thresholds of the (translated) texts and, in a certain sense, also as their visual translations. From kaleidoscopes made of books to cities made of tram wires or tentacles, from the mise en abyme of novel covers to shells or spiral-shaped fossils, from famous paintings or overcrowded miniatures to stylised, cartoonish drawings, these covers show how the imagery triggered by Calvino’s vivid writing is as universal as it is singular.

Greta Gribaudo, Université d’Aix-Marseille –  Università “La Sapienza” di Roma

 

The exhibition ‘Italo Calvino in the world: visual translations’ was realised with the collaboration of the Italian Cultural Institute in Paris

 

Title: Le Vicomte pourfendu (Il visconte dimezzato)

Year: 1955

Publisher Paris, Albin Michel, tr. into French by Juliette Bertrand

Title: One Afternoon and Other Stories (Ultimo viene il corvo)

Year: 1957

Publisher London, Collins, tr. into English by Archibald Colquhoun and Peggy Wright

Title: Végül arra száll egy holló (Ultimo viene il corvo)

Year: 1959

Publisher Budapest, Zrinyi Kiado, tr. into Hungarian by István Nemeskürty

Title: дети италии : Рассказьі современньіх, итальянских писателей (Un bastimento carico di granchi, Il bosco sull’autostrada, Il reggimento smarrito, Un viaggio con le mucche)

Year: 1962

Publisher Москва, Государственное Издательство Детской Цитературы Министерства Просвещения РСФСР, tr. into Russian by Г. Богемсцово

Title: Die überfallene Konditorei (I racconti)

Year: 1968

Publisher Frankfurt, Fischer, tr. into German by Nino Erné

Title: Kosmické grotesky (Le cosmicomiche)

Year: 1968

Publisher Praha, Československý spisovatel, tr. into Czechoslovak by Ela Ripellino-Hlochová

Title: Opowieści kosmikomiczne (Le cosmicomiche)

Year: 1968

Publisher Warszawa, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, tr. into Polish by Barbara Sieroszewska

Title: Cosmicomics (Le cosmicomiche)

Year: 1969

Publisher London, Jonathan Cape, tr. into English by William Weaver

Title: Le baron perché (Il barone rampante)

Year: 1971

Publisher Paris, Éd. du Seuil-Le Livre de Poche, tr. into French by Juliette Bertrand

Title: Le chevalier inexistant (Il cavaliere inesistente)

Year: 1972

Publisher Paris, Éd. du Seuil-Le Livre de poche, tr. into French by Maurice Javion

Title: La journée d'un scrutateur (La giornata d'uno scrutatore)

Year: 1973

Publisher Paris, Gallimard, tr. into French by Gérard Genot

Title: Invisible cities (Le città invisibili)

Year: 1974

Publisher New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, tr. into English by William Weaver

Title: Näkymättömät kaupungit (Le città invisibili)

Year: 1976

Publisher Helsinki, Tammi, tr. into Finnish by Jorma Kapari

Title: Le château des destins croisés (Il castello dei destini incrociati)

Year: 1976

Publisher Paris, Éd. du Seuil, tr. into French by Jean Thibaudeau and the Author

Title: マルコヴァルドさんの四季 (Marcovaldo ovvero le stagioni in città)

Year: 1977

Publisher 東京, 岩波書店, tr. into Japanese by 安藤美紀夫

Title: レ・コスミコミケ (Le cosmicomiche)

Year: 1978

Publisher 東京, 早川書房, tr. into Japanese by 米川良夫

Title: Tämä vaikea elämä (I racconti: La formica argentina, La speculazione edilizia, La nuvola di smog)

Year: 1979

Publisher Helsinki, Tammi, tr. into Finnish by Jorma Kapari

Title: De usynlige byer 'Le città invisibili)

Year: 1979

Publisher København, Rhodos, tr. into Danish by Lene Waage Petersen

Title: Oraşele invizibile (Le città invisibili)

Year: 1979

Publisher București, Univers, tr. into Romanian by Sanda Sora

Title: Romarine et autres contes (Fiabe italiane)

Year: 1980

Publisher Paris, Fernand Nathan, tr. into French by Nino Frank

Title: If on a winter's night a traveller (Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore)

Year: 1981

Publisher London, Secker & Warburg, tr. into English by William Weaver

Title: Ako jedne zimske noci neki putnik (Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore)

Year: 1981

Publisher Zagreb, Znanje, tr. into Croatian by Pavao Pavličić

Title: : Arioste - Roland Furieux choisi et raconté par Italo Calvino (Orlando furioso di Ludovico Ariosto raccontato da Italo Calvino)

Year: 1983

Publisher Paris, Garnier-Flammarion, tr. into French by Célestin Hippeau

Title: Om en vinternatt en resande (Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore) d

Year: 1983

Publisher Stockholm, Bonniers, tr. into Swedish by Viveca Melander

Title: Kosmokonische verhalen (Le cosmicomiche)

Year: 1983

Publisher Amsterdam, Uitgeverij Bert Bakker, tr. into Dutch by Henny Vlot

Title: Jos talviyönä matkamies (Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore)

Year: 1983

Publisher Helsinki, Tammi, tr. into Finnish by Jorma Kapari

Title: Αν μια νύχτα του χειμώνα ένας ταξιδιώτης (Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore)

Year: 1984

Publisher Αθήνα, Αστάρτη, tr. into Greek by Ανταίος Χρυσοστομίδης

Title: Приключението на един поет (I racconti - Marcovaldo)

Year: 1984

Publisher София, Нар. култура, tr. into Bulgarian by Boiana Petrova

Title: מעין הסמויות הערים (Le città invisibili)

Year: 1984

Publisher ספרית פועלים ,אביב תל, tr. into Hebrew by Gayo Shiloni

Title: Palomar (Palomar)

Year: 1985

Publisher Paris, Éd. du Seuil, tr. into French by Jean-Paul Manganaro

Title: Hvis en reisende en vinternatt (se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore)

Year: 1985

Publisher Oslo, Aschehoug, tr. into Norwegian by Jorunn Aardal

Title: Wenn ein Reisender in einer Winternacht (Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore)

Year: 1985

Publisher Berlin, Verlag Volk und Welt, tr. into German by Burkhart Kroeber

Title: レ・コスミコミケ (Le cosmicomiche)

Year: 1986

Publisher 東京, 早川書房, tr. into Japanese by 米川良夫

Title: Neviditelná mĕsta (Le città invisibili)

Year: 1986

Publisher Praha, Československý spisovatel, tr. into Czechoslovak by Ela Ripellino-Hlochová

Title: The Uses of Literature: essays (Una pietra sopra. Saggi)

Year: 1987

Publisher San Diego, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, tr. into English by Patrick Creagh

Title: Cosmicomics (Le cosmicomiche)

Year: 1990

Publisher New York, Harcourt, Brace & World, tr. into English by William Weaver

Title: Sous le soleil jaguar (Sotto il sole giaguaro)

Year: 1990

Publisher Paris, Seuil, tr. into French by Jean-Paul Manganaro

Title: Collection de sable (Collezione di sabbia)

Year: 1990

Publisher Paris, Seuil, tr. into French by Jean-Paul Manganaro

Title: La spéculation immobilière (La speculazione edilizia)

Year: 1990

Publisher Paris, Éd. du Seuil, tr. into French by Jean-Paul Manganaro

Title: Aventures: nouvelles (Gli amori difficili)

Year: 1992

Publisher Paris, Éd. du Seuil, tr. into French by Maurice Javion and Jean-Paul Manganaro

Title: Six Memos for the Next Millennium (Lezioni americane. Sei proposte per il prossimo millennio)

Year: 1992

Publisher London, Jonathan Cape, tr. into English by Patrick Creagh

Title: Cosmicómicas (Le cosmicomiche

Year: 1993

Publisher Lisboa, Teorama, tr. into Portoguese by José Colaço Barreiros

Title: As cidades invisíveis (Le città invisibili)

Year: 1993

Publisher Lisboa, Teorama, tr. into Portoguese by José Colaço Barreiros

Title: 如果在冬夜,一個旅人 (Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore)

Year: 1993

Publisher Taiwan, China Times, tr. into Chinese by Wu Czhien-chen

Title: 看不见的城市 (Le città invisibili)

Year: 1993

Publisher Taiwan, TCTP Co., tr. into Chinese by Wang Chih-hung

Title: La gran bonanza de las Antillas (La gran bonaccia delle Antille)

Year: 1993

Publisher Barcelona, Tusquets, tr. into Spanish by Aurora Bernárdez

Title: Por que ler os clássicos (Perché leggere i classici)

Year: 1993

Publisher São Paulo, Companhia das Letras, tr. into Portoguese (Brazil) by Nilson Moulin

Title: The Road to San Giovanni (La strada di San Giovanni)

Year: 1993

Publisher New York, Pantheon Books, tr. into English by Tim Parks

Title: Ermitaño en París. Páginas autobiográficas (Eremita a Parigi. Pagine autobiografiche)

Year: 1994

Publisher Madrid, Siruela, tr. into Spanish by Ángel Sánchez-Gijón

Title: Los libros de los otros : correspondencia (1947-1981) (I libri degli altri, lettere 1947-1981)

Year: 1994

Publisher Barcelona, Tusquets, tr. into Spanish by Aurora Bernárdez

Title: Varför läsa klassikerna (Perché leggere i classici)

Year: 2011

Publisher Stockholm, Cartaditalias bokserie, tr. into Swedish by Gustav Sjöberg

Title: I giovani del Po (Les jeunes du Pô)

Year: 2023

Publisher Paris, Cahiers de l'Hôtel de Galliffet, tr. into French by Martin Rueff

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