Dead Vincenzo Mantovani, translator of Roth, Vonnegut, Bellow-

Dead Vincenzo Mantovani, translator of Roth, Vonnegut, Bellow-

2023-06-04 16:01:57


He had transposed many of the greatest American writers into Italian. Among the latest great undertakings that thrilled him, the new edition of Kurt Vonnegut

Farewell to one of the greatest Italian editorial translators, for many generations of readers “the Italian voice” of Philip Roth but also of many other American writers: Ernest Hemingway, Saul Bellow, Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Jack Kerouac, Harper Lee, Truman Capote and countless others. He passed away on Saturday 3 June due to a long illness Vincenzo Mantovani. Born in Ferrara in 1935, he said he approached translation almost by accident, but he had become one of the first true “pure” editorial translators: he said of himself, during an interview with the “Corriere”, that he was a “translator with a passion for the profession, and not as a substitute for another job in the houses publishers”. And he added, with the spirit that characterized him: «A translator like this has boundless ambitions: I’d like to retranslate Moby-Dickor all of Shakespeare». And he had accomplished many enormous feats. After starting with The habit of loving by Doris Lessing, for Feltrinelli, in the 1950s he had left his career as a journalist to move to Milan and devote himself to translation. «The noise with which my brother and I went to sleep – recalls his daughter Alice Mantovani – was the ticking of her typewriter. And, both as children and as adults, he was a point of reference for us: she knew everything about the world, even if she didn’t travel frequently, thanks to the enormous number of books she read ».

His Rothian bibliography is immense for Einaudi: starting from the legendary translation of American pastoral careof 1998, and then with I married a communist (2000), The ghost writer (2002), The dying animal (2002), Zuckerman unleashed (2004), The anatomy lesson (2006), The counterlife (2010), The human stain (2011), and many other titles. Even if he had never felt the need to know the writer: “We live as prisoners in the same way – Mantovani said -, and I’ve never had the need to meet him: I’m afraid he’s an impossible man, but he’s certainly one of the greatest authors of our time”. Impossible to recall here all his translations, and his publishers: il Ravelstein Of Saul Bellow (Mondadori, 2000), the re-edition for Feltrinelli de The dark beyond the hedge Of Harper Lee (2014), continued Go, post a sentry (2015), the most recent titles of Richard Fordagain for Feltrinelli, Canada (2013), Everything could be much worse (2015) e Between them (2017).

He loved to remember monumental feats, such as the almost thousand pages of the novel “JR” by William Gaddis for Alet, in 2009 (“Fifteen years of effort, even to find a publisher: I became a traveling salesman for Gaddis”) and was recently enthusiastic about the great undertaking that saw him edit the new translation of Kurt Vonnegut’s complete work, for Bompiani, all the novels and what Mantovani familiarly called “il Vonneguttone”, the volume of All the stories, of 1,295 pages. The Bompiani editor with whom he worked on the work, Andrea Tramontana, recalls the affinity between Vonnegut’s spirit, committed and ironic, and that of the translator, always capable of humour. «He had never stopped thinking about the future, thinking about translation for young people, a world that he loved and about which he was curious». Vincenzo Mantovani delivered the new version of in March Slaughterhouse no. 5which will be released in 2024, and he had continued to work on the revision despite his illness until last week.

June 4, 2023 (change June 4, 2023 | 6:35 pm)

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