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How Montale earned his living

Clive James, 17 February 1983

The Second Life of Art: Selected Essays of Eugenio Montale 
translated by Jonathan Galassi.
Ecco, 354 pp., $17.50, October 1982, 0 912946 84 9
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Prime alla Scala 
by Eugenio Montale.
Mondadori (Milan), 522 pp., October 1981
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Eugenio Montale’s Poetry: A Dream in Reason’s Presence 
by Glauco Cambon.
Princeton, 274 pp., £16.80, January 1983, 0 691 06520 9
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... If Eugenio Montale had never written a line of verse he would still have deserved his high honours merely on the basis of his critical prose. The product of a long life spent clearing the way for his poetry, it is critical prose of the best type: highly intelligent without making mysteries, wide-ranging without lapses into eclecticism or displays of pointless erudition, hard-bitten yet receptive, colloquial yet compressed ...

Two Jackals on a Leash

Jamie McKendrick: Eugenio Montale, 1 July 1999

Eugenio MontaleCollected Poems 1920-54 
translated by Jonathan Galassi.
Carcanet, 626 pp., £29, November 1998, 1 85754 425 0
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... a singer out of breath or a poet without inspiration is said to have broken mirrors. In ‘Reading Montale’, an essay appended to his translation of the poet’s first three books, Jonathan Galassi considers the old and especially Mediterranean association of poet and cicada and its recurrence in Montale’s poems. Feeble ...

A Dream in the Presence of Reason

Clive James, 15 October 1981

L’opera in versi 
by Eugenio Montale, edited by Rosanna Bettarini and Gianfranco Contini.
Einaudi, 1225 pp., £26.15
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Xenia and Motets 
by Eugenio Montale, translated by Kate Hughes.
Agenda, 45 pp., £3, December 1980, 0 902400 25 8
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The Man I Pretend to Be: The Colloquies and Selected Poems of Guido Gozzano 
edited by Michael Palma.
Princeton, 254 pp., £9.30, July 1981, 0 691 06467 9
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... Poetry, Eugenio Montale said in his Nobel Prize address, is not merchandise. On that basis he excused himself for having turned out comparatively few poems. Put together, however, they make a volume of impressive dimensions, especially if you count in the fourth dimension, time. Annotated with unimpeachable scholarly patience and critical judgment by Gianfranco Contini and his pupil Rosanna Bettarini, L’opera in versi is the book with a capital ‘b’, or libro with a capital ‘l’, which this great poet, as personally modest as he was vocationally proud, always looked forward to in trepidation and worked towards with confidence ...

Montale’s Eastbourne

Michael Hofmann, 23 May 1991

The Coastguard’s House 
by Eugenio Montale, translated by Jeremy Reed.
Bloodaxe, 223 pp., £7.95, December 1990, 1 85224 100 4
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... The first Montale poem to make any impression on me was ‘Eastbourne’ in the harsh translation by G.S. Fraser in the New Directions Selected Poems: ‘God Save the King’ the trumpets moan and groan From a pavilion high on piles That gape to let the sea through when it comes To wash out wet Horse-hoofmarks on the sand Of this sea-shore ...

Villa Lampedusa

Marina Warner, 5 January 1989

The Last Leopard: A Life of Giuseppe di Lampedusa 
by David Gilmour.
Quartet, 223 pp., £15.95, November 1988, 0 7043 2564 0
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... quarter of Palermo. In 1954, Lampedusa’s cousin, Lucio Piccolo, was invited to San Pellegrino by Eugenio Montale, the poet and Italy’s most influential critic, and received a prize for his volume of poems, Canti Barocchi. For years, Lampedusa had spent several days a month with Lucio and his equally singular brothers in their arcadian house at Capo ...

Placing Leavis

Geoffrey Hartman, 24 January 1985

The Leavises: Recollections and Impressions 
edited by Denys Thompson.
Cambridge, 207 pp., £15, October 1984, 0 521 25494 9
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The Social Mission of English Criticism: 1848-1932 
by Chris Baldick.
Oxford, 264 pp., £19.50, August 1983, 0 19 812821 5
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Radical Earnestness: English Social Theory 1880-1980 
by Fred Inglis.
Robertson, 253 pp., £16.50, November 1982, 0 85520 328 5
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The Critic as Anti-Philosopher: Essays and Papers by F.R. Leavis 
edited by G. Singh.
Chatto, 208 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 7011 2644 2
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... than his disinclination to take up European works – in this book there are two short pieces on Eugenio Montale that are sensitive and even, within bounds, comparative. The determining limitation shows up whenever Leavis suspects the presence of a ‘religion of equality’ enforced by an emphasis on ‘economic considerations’ or some other mode of ...

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