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New Light on Tony Harrison$
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Edith Hall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266519

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266519.001.0001

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Wine and Poetry: Translating Tony Harrison in Italy

Wine and Poetry: Translating Tony Harrison in Italy

(p.163) 14 Wine and Poetry: Translating Tony Harrison in Italy
New Light on Tony Harrison

Giovanni Greco

British Academy

Tony Harrison has always had a deep connection with Italy and Italian poets, above all Naples and Leopardi. The article tries to show that Harrison’s sentence ‘it’s all poetry to me, whether it is for the printed page, or for reading aloud, or for the theatre, or the opera house, or concert hall, or even for television’ can be read as ‘it’s all translation to me’. The main idea is that translation works as the volcanic wine, Falanghina, disaster-nourished’, which transforms the lava of Vesuvius into a tasteful wine as described in Harrison's poem Piazza Sannazzaro. The process of translating from Latin and Greek or from other modern languages seems to equate, for Harrison, with the general process of creation either in a positive or in a negative sense. Translating, like poetry, is at the same time impossible and necessary, cannibalisation/Calibanisation of the original text (the case of The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus) and negotiation with the ruina of ‘the fleeting life’ represented by the Volcano, in order to find a new-ancient voice, the half-pissed poet-translator’s voice, that always sounds political, contains a public, even hectoring relevance (the case, among many others, of The Krieg Anthology).

Keywords:   Falanghina, Ruina, ‘disaster-nourished’, Vesuvius, Calibanisation, Wine, Refugee

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