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Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Composed during a period of extended bed rest, Gabriele D'Annunzio'sNotturnois a moving prose poem in which imagination, experience, and remembrance intertwine. The somber atmosphere of the poem reflects the circumstances of its creation. With his vision threatened and his eyes completely bandaged, D'Annunzio suffered months of near-total blindness and pain-wracked infirmity in 1921, and yet he managed to write on small strips of paper, each wide enough for a single line. When the poet eventually regained his sight, he put together these strips to create the lyrical and innovativeNotturno.

    InNotturnoD'Annunzio forges an original prose that merges aspects of formal poetry and autobiographical narrative. He fuses the darkness and penumbra of the present with the immediate past, haunted by war memories, death, and mourning, and also with the more distant past, revolving mainly around his mother and childhood. In this remarkable translation of the work, Stephen Sartarelli preserves the antiquated style of D'Annunzio's poetic prose and the tension of his rich and difficult harmonies, bringing to contemporary readers the full texture and complexity of a creation forged out of darkness.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16016-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Virginia Jewiss
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Stephen Sartarelli
  5. Notturno

      (pp. 3-62)

      I am blindfolded.

      I lie supine in bed, my torso immobile, head thrown back, a little lower than my feet.

      I raise my knees slightly, to tilt the board propped up on them.

      I am writing on a narrow strip of paper with space for one line. In my hand is a soft-leaded pencil. The thumb and middle finger of my right hand rest on the edges of the paper and let it slide away as each word is written.

      I can feel the edge under the tip of the little finger on my right hand, and use this as...

      (pp. 63-190)

      Tonight the bed sways and shakes like a double wing stretched between sea and sky. I open my mouth to drink the Adriatic’s vigor, but no cool draught enters my throat.

      Iodine turns my mouth to metal, my throat to steel. Steel heated red in the forge of my burning eye and tempered in the pool of my thick blood.

      I cry out and do not hear my cry.

      Alfredo Barbieri’s pale face is at the edge of the bed as at the edge of the cockpit, but without goggles or leather aviator’s cap. The pilot’s gesture is imparted to...

      (pp. 191-288)

      Sleepy calends of April. The midday rain upon the foliage subsides and then stops.

      My slumber puts me in tune with the garden, which I cannot see.

      I can hear that the tide is high, the quay submerged.

      A melody of birds resounds all through my chest, as if my assuaged spirits were singing.

      Divine respite. A slumber similar to ecstasy, transparent and lithe like a brook on a plain.

      Watching over me is not Sirenetta, but our sister Water, “humble, precious, chaste” creature of the Canticle.¹

      With long, silvery hands she seeks the veins in my gaunt body, disentangles...

      (pp. 289-306)

      This commentary on the shadows was written, one line at a time, on more than ten thousand strips of paper.¹ The writing is misshapen to greater or lesser degrees depending on the severity of my suffering and the urgency of my visions.

      In the months of May and June 1916, my daughter Renata worked on deciphering the majority of the bands of paper, while in subdued light I wrote theEnvoi, later added to myLeda Without Swan, using the same procedure, although able, this time, to straighten the lines with an occasional glance.

      Her interpretation was read to me,...

    (pp. 307-310)
  7. NOTES
    (pp. 311-329)