Giovanni Pascoli’s Convivial Poems: an ancient language for the modern world.

Monday 20 March | 6pm | Italian Cultural Institute

Elena Borelli presents a complete poetic English translation of a masterpiece of European Modernist literature: Poemi Conviviali (1905), by Giovanni Pascoli, one of the most influential authors of late nineteenth-century Italy.
Giovanni Pascoli was one of the most famous poets of fin de siècle Italy. His works are inspired by French Symbolism and by Decadentism, as well as drawing on the classical tradition so alive in Italian culture.
Although better known in the English-speaking world for poetic collections such as Myricae and Canti di Castelvecchio, Poemi Conviviali represents one of Pascoli’s highest achievements. It can be rightfully compared to other Modernist works of the early twentieth century which revisit the classical world in order to make it a symbol for the condition of the modern man, such as T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and James Joyce’s Ulysses.
Poemi Conviviali consists of twenty poems, each of them devoted to a classical figure, fictional or historical. Ulysses, Helen of Troy, and Alexander the Great, among others, are the protagonists of these stories, but they are also signifiers for themes such as desire and the quest for identity in the modern universe deprived of God. These exquisite sketches are written in a language that at times replicates the forms of Latin and Greek, thus encoding the past into the present and blending the old and the new in a typical Modernist style.

Marco Gambino will read selected poems from the English translation, published by Italica Press in June 2022. The reading will be accompanied by traditional and original tunes played by Elena at the Celtic harp.

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