chapter
A note on the translation
Pages 2

Some of the problems faced by a translator of Giacomo Leopardi's letters should be mentioned briefly, not because the author thinks she has solved them – they are insoluble – but to suggest areas in which the translation may not do justice to the original. There is for a start the inevitable loss in gradations of intimacy in English, which has no way of marking the three possible forms of address offered by nineteenth-century Italian. Even when the chillingly formal Mio Signor Padre of the first letter to his father becomes the slightly less chilly but still very formal Carissimo Signor Padre, and then, after the death of his brother Luigi, Caro Papa, Leopardi always addresses his father in the third person, an ineradicable marker of the distance between them. The twentieth-century equivalents of certain words seemed best avoided because, while they correspond exactly in meaning to the Italian, they feel anachronistic in an early nineteenth-century context.