Comunian, Maria Luisa (2008) Riccardo Sonzogno, autore della prima traduzione italiana completa delle Fleurs du Mal di Charles Baudelaire. [Tesi di dottorato]
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The essay opens with the presentation of Riccardo Sonzogno and his works. He was the well-known author of the first complete Italian version of the collection “Les Fleurs du Mal” by Charles Baudelaire, but nothing remains of his original literary production which met with significant success at the beginning of the XXth century.
Riccardo took an active part in various activities of the publishing firm founded by his uncle Edoardo, in the context of the intense industrial and cultural life of Milan in the last quarter of the XIXth century. Although it is very complex to trace all the roles in which Riccardo Sonzogno was active in the publishing firm, because of the loss of documents due to the second World War, yet it is evident that he participated in its glorious and critical moments as well as its opportunities and connections, intensely sharing the literary and cultural reality of the period. The Sonzogno Publishing Firm met with important success as far as 1910 thanks to the innovative genius of its founder Edoardo, with an impressive production of works addressing a vast public, mostly new editions of ancient and modern classics.
In 1893 the Sonzogno Publishing Firm published the first complete Italian translation in prose of “Les Fleurs du Mal” by Charles Baudelaire and in 1894 a cheaper version which became part of a popular collection.
Riccardo Sonzogno conceived and carried out this work as cultural mediation, with the explicit intention of preserving the true sense of the book in its unity, far from scandals and partial or biased interpretations. The quality of the attained result is interesting for the respect to the original text which is systematically preserved in its unitary semantic value, considered essential by the translator.
In fact Sonzogno’s modifications are easily discernible and limited to syntax and vocabulary, with the only aim of producing clear Italian prose while avoiding additions or omissions from the original text.
As a completion of the “movement of reparation […] to the pale shadow of the poet” Riccardo Sonzogno edited “Reliquiae” in 1895 published by Locatelli, containing the condemned poems together with various information and notes.
Between 1901 and 1908 Sonzogno published all of Riccardo’s own original works, consisting of three collections of realistic short stories .- “Wasted Life”, “Vague Venus” and “Smiling” – and a brilliant comedy titled “Between two Kisses”. The world described in the short stories is hostile, full of contrasts which crush the characters in spite of their intentions. The author is mainly interested in the protagonists’ psychology, which is described with the author’s participation in a language which makes mimetic use of tenses.
The comedy’s plot is complex, with frequent misunderstandings that are rendered with great irony and which compose a perfect mirror of the period’s middle-class.
The essay ends with some information on the translation of Maupassant’s “Rhymes”, which Sonzogno published in 1903. This is the only translation in Italian authorized by the author which still remains the only one. It was carried out with the aim of promoting knowledge and comprehension of the lyrical poems which were considered outrageous by contemporary morals. The version in prose is characterized by great attention to formal and semantic accuracy.
The present essay aims at describing Riccardo Sonzogno through information which had remained fragmented and unavailable until now and which has been recovered and commented, thus doing justice to a significant voice in the Italian cultural context at the turn between the XIXth and the XXth centuries.
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