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Nomadic Translations: (G)hosting in Amelia Rosselli’s Variazioni belliche


Amelia Rosselli (1930-1996) was the first female author (and remains one of the few) to be included in the canonizing anthologies of 20th century Italian poetry. And although she has been published outside of Italy, few book-length translations of her work have been produced. Consisting of Italian, English and French, her poetics forges an alliance between three languages. Following Rosi Braidotti’s concept of “nomadic subjectivity,” Rosselli could be considered a nomadic polyglot poet never at home in one single language. She chose Italian, the language of her paternal heritage, to write most of her poetry. Nonetheless, her Italian poems contain linguistic elements—ghostly traces—of English and French. Considering her poems as nomadic texts, this paper explores to what extent the process of translation can function as a nomadic mode. Using Braidotti’s nomadic politics as a theoretical starting point via Walter Benjamin’s theories of linguistic kinship, the present analysis considers an ethics of hospitality via a guest-host relationship of language in translation. For instance, if Italian “hosts” English in the original poems, I explore how her contemporary translators have maintained, modified or reversed this linguistic (g)hosting in translation. I focus on a section of poems translated by Lucia Re and Paul Vangelisti as War Variations: A Bilingual Edition (2005) as well as Jennifer Scappettone’s Bellicose Variations in Locomotrix: Selected Prose and Poetry of Amelia Rosselli (2012).  

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