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The Selected Poetry of Pier Paolo Pasolini: A Bilingual Edition (Paperback)
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Most people outside Italy know Pier Paolo Pasolini for his films, many of which began as literary works—Arabian Nights, The Gospel According to Matthew, The Decameron, and The Canterbury Tales among them. What most people are not aware of is that he was primarily a poet, publishing nineteen books of poems during his lifetime, as well as a visual artist, novelist, playwright, and journalist. Half a dozen of these books have been excerpted and published in English over the years, but even if one were to read all of those, the wide range of poetic styles and subjects that occupied Pasolini during his lifetime would still elude the English-language reader.
For the first time, Anglophones will now be able to discover the many facets of this singular poet. Avoiding the tactics of the slim, idiosyncratic, and aesthetically or politically motivated volumes currently available in English, Stephen Sartarelli has chosen poems from every period of Pasolini’s poetic oeuvre. In doing so, he gives English-language readers a more complete picture of the poet, whose verse ranged from short lyrics to longer poems and extended sequences, and whose themes ran not only to the moral, spiritual, and social spheres but also to the aesthetic and sexual, for which he is most known in the United States today. This volume shows how central poetry was to Pasolini, no matter what else he was doing in his creative life, and how poetry informed all of his work from the visual arts to his political essays to his films. Pier Paolo Pasolini was “a poet of the cinema,” as James Ivory says in the book’s foreword, who “left a trove of words on paper that can live on as the fast-deteriorating images he created on celluloid cannot.”
This generous selection of poems will be welcomed by poetry lovers and film buffs alike and will be an event in American letters.
About the Author
Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–75) was an Italian film director, writer, and intellectual.
Stephen Sartarelli has translated widely from French and Italian, most recently works by Andrea Camilleri and Gabriele D’Annunzio. His translations have won numerous prizes, including the Raiziss-De Palchi Award of the Academy of American Poets for Songbook: Selected Poems of Umberto Saba and the John Florio Award of the UK Society of Authors for Prince of the Clouds by Gianni Riotta.
"An accused blasphemer deeply devoted to Franciscan Catholicism, a Gramscian communist permanently expelled from the party, an avowed homosexual dedicated to the consensual sexual freedom of everyone, a champion of the local on a global scale, a neorealist of the imagination, and a radically innovative poet alienated from the existing practices of the avant-garde: Pasolini is not so much a figure of contradictions as he is a force against the incoherence hiding in every hypocrisy."
— Susan Stewart
"This substantial bilingual edition of 76 poems, most drawn from seven major collections published in Italian between 1954 and 1971 and including some that appeared posthumously in 2003, is a welcome step toward redressing the damaging imbalance in the image of Pasolini conventionally offered to readers of English. Sartarelli's intelligent, stylish translations are accompanied by copious and helpful notes, a bibliography and filmography, and a spirited and very useful introduction. Wide-ranging, authoritative, and handsomely produced, Sartarelli's volume establishes itself immediately as by far the best selection of Pasolini's poetry available in English; its publication is a landmark in Pasolini studies. . . . Essential."
“Pasolini is known as a filmmaker and political rebel, and for his tragic death, yet he was first and most importantly a poet. Sartarelli’s brilliant translations have at last made his searingly beautiful poetry available to English-language readers.”
— John Ashbery
“Sartarelli’s impeccable and inspired translations will be of incommensurable value to all students of Pasolini’s oeuvre. This new English edition of Pasolini’s poems is the most comprehensive and the most accurate version available in the Anglo-American world. Although Pasolini saw himself primarily as a poet, outside Italy his vast poetic production has not received the critical attention it certainly deserves. Sartarelli’s generous selection and his sincere dedication will enhance our understanding of one of the major European artists of the twentieth century.”
— Armando Maggi, University of Chicago
“The remarkable range of Pasolini’s poetic achievements, which in myriad ways underpin his renowned work in cinema and fiction, is brilliantly represented in Sartarelli’s impressive bilingual edition. His translations convincingly convey Pasolini’s densely woven, allusive poems, their musicality, passion, and lyricism. The touch of Sartarelli’s confident, sensitive hand, of a poet who is also a scholar, has brought a most welcome new edition of one of the most important literary and cultural figures of the twentieth century.”
— Patrick Barron, University of Massachusetts Boston