LATE MONTALE presents a generous selection of the intimate, elusive, and trenchant poems that the Nobel laureate Eugenio Montale wrote in the last several years of his life. Translated by the prize-winning poet George Bradley (Yale Younger Poet, 1985), the work chosen for this volume includes fifty-six poems that were previously unavailable in English and now form an important addition to the Montale œuvre. Bradley's idiomatic, accurate, and graceful versions bring Montale's Italian to the anglophone audience with a new immediacy, and the extensive notes he provides offer valuable information, much of it newly uncovered, regarding the many people and places referenced. Both readers coming to Montale for the first time and those familiar with his earlier work will find these translations compelling, and anyone interested in world-class literature will find LATE MONTALE a fascinating volume.
“With LATE MONTALE the distinguished poet George Bradley has given us a Montale in English most of us hardly knew. In selecting and translating scores of poems from the four collections published in the last decade of Montale’s life, along with dozens of previously untranslated poems drawn from notebooks the Nobel laureate entrusted to his housekeeper, Bradley urges us to focus on the work the poet's old age. These translations, printed with the meticulously edited Italian texts en face, are marvels of lucidity and subtle music in which precision is suffused with a rare tenderness of attention. The volume includes Bradley’s succinct but copious notes clarifying many of the allusions in the poems. And there are many masterpieces here, riches of meditation, at times caustic and satirical, at others grave and quizzical. For all its unavoidable melancholy, Montale’s late work pulses with life, and Bradley captures the underlying exuberance to perfection. Montale’s late poems are 'direct and conversational, the work of an older man soaked in reflection and second thoughts,’ as Bradley notes in his elegant Foreword; but they are no less moving and indeed no less thrilling for that.”—Eric Ormsby
“Montale once quipped that the early poems ‘were written in a tailcoat’ and the late poems ‘in pajamas,’ an image that goes a long way toward conveying the casual, relaxed mood of LATE MONTALE. George Bradley’s versions feel as comfortable in their English as the originals do in their Italian, and his generous selection and discerning introduction and notes offer Anglophone readers their best chance yet to discover the many quiet pleasures of LATE MONTALE.”—Geoffrey Brock
“With his gentle wit and rigorous precision, Mr. Bradley is the ideal medium for these poignant poems of Montale’s late maturity. He has done the anglophone reader a great service.”—Daniel Mark Epstein
“George Bradley has found the perfect, acerbic tone for these late poems and drafts of Montale, some never seen before in English. In old age, Montale crafted an art of radical disillusionment, a world of smoke and ashes in which ‘the children of those children will have / nothing left to learn / nothing to lose’ Bradley has importantly enlarged our understanding of this important and incorruptible poet.”—Rosanna Warren
Eugenio Montale (Genoa 1896-Milan 1981) is widely considered the most important Italian poet of the twentieth century. Raised in Genoa and in the Cinque Terre town of Monterosso, Montale trained as an operatic bass in his youth but did not attend university. He served in the Italian infantry during World War I, after which he lived often in Florence and sometimes in Genoa for three decades. An essayist and translator as well as a poet, he was Director of the Gabinetto G. P. Vieusseux library in Florence from 1929 until 1938, when he lost his position due to his refusal to join the Fascist Party. Montale moved to Milan in 1948, where he was employed as a journalist, an opera and literary critic, and as a consultant to the Mondadori publishing house. In 1962, he married his long-time companion Drusilla Tanzi but was left a widower the following year. Eugenio Montale was created an Italian Senator-for-Life in 1967 and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1975.