Eugenio Montale, full editor and Nobel laureate


The two souls of journalist and poet. Critic, correspondent, columnist never denies himself to the via Solferino newspaper. His verses in the Corriere book 40 years after his death

By a singular but perhaps not accidental coincidence, the proceedings of the conference on studies on Eugenio Montale’s papers in the Italian archives, which took place in Pavia on 3 and 4 April 2019 on the initiative of the Maria Corti Foundation and the Manuscripts Center of that University. On pages 309-340 of the volume, edited by Gianfranca Lavezzi for the Interlinea editions of Novara, an extensive essay by Andrea Moroni impeccably describes Eugenio Montale’s papers in the historical archive of the Corriere della Sera and allows you to finally reliably retrace the web of relations established by Montale with the company, the administration, the directors of the newspaper.

The theme was not and not absolutely new, since, in the Corriere della Sera of 12 November 1989, Gaetano Afeltra focused on the slow, patient strategy of the spider with which, since December 26, 1942, from the time of the Borelli management, first through Guido Piovene, then Filippo Sacchi and, after the liberation of the north, again Sacchi and the new director, Mario Borsa, Montale sought and finally found in via Solferino 28 a professional space that is both unprecedented and unmistakable.

As is known, the meeting with the stock market successor, Guglielmo Emanuel, was decisive in this regard. on the morning of January 30, 1948, when at the news of Gandhi’s killing, suddenly communicated by the Corriere teletypewriters, it follows the no less sudden decision of Emanuel and Michele Mottola to delegate to Montale the drafting of the editorial, Missione interrupted, which sees the light on Saturday 31. From there the continuation of a negotiation already in course that will allow 51-year-old Montale to take up service as an ordinary editor not instantly, as is sometimes said, but according to the procedures established by the administration in the letters of February 4 and April 30: hiring with effect from April 1, 1948, backdated to 1 October 1947 in consideration of the previous roughly two-year collaboration relationship.

The first article, published by Montale on January 2, 1946 in the Corriere della Sera (at that juncture still Corriere dell’Informazione), a review of the second of the two volumes, edited by Alda Croce, of the Italian theater of the second half of the nineteenth century (Bari, Laterza, 1940 and 1945): six days earlier, on December 27, 1945, La Lettura, reborn from its ashes on August 23 on a weekly basis and in a new graphic format under the direction of Filippo Sacchi, he had hosted, by Montale, with an illustration by Renato Vernizzi, the very fine prose A beach in Liguria, firstly accepted, respectively with the titles Souvenir of a beach e Punta del Mesco, from Corrado Alvaro’s Popolo di Roma, in the heart of forty-five days, on 22 August 1943, and from the edition for northern Italy of the Fatherland on 19-20 March 1945.

These are not irrelevant circumstances. Montale’s collaboration with Corriere – which just today sends the historic collection of Poems edited by Giovanni Raboni – ahead its definitive stabilization is intertwined with one of the highest stages of his inventive exercise, of his theoretical reflection and his political commitment. Prominent militant of the Action Party in Florence between November-December 1944 and February 1946; founder and co-director, with Alessandro Bonsanti, Arturo Loria and Luigi Scaravelli (editorial secretary Giorgio Zampa) of the fortnightly Il Mondo; fresh author of the second edition (Florence, Barbra, 1945) of Finisterre, published by Zampa, right at n. 1 of January 1946 of the Rassegna d’Italia by Francesco Flora, Montale entrusts the rightly famous imaginary interview Intentions and at no. November 11th Paradox of bad music, dedicated to Massimo Mila, who with hindsight is not difficult to read as an unintentional sinopia of the work of a music critic mainly from La Scala who will keep him busy for years, from 1954 to 1967, on the columns of the Corriere d ‘information.

The writings on musical subjects selectively arranged by Gianfranca Lavezzi, with the consent of Montale, in Prime at the Scala, which appears posthumously in October 1981, had almost been published in the Corriere d ‘information and in the Corriere della Sera: the same scheme governed the packaging of two capital collections of prose come Dinard butterfly e Out of the house, both entirely composed of texts taken from the morning or afternoon edition of the newspaper.

Whoever thinks about the game of dates for a moment will not escape that on January 20 and October 27 1946 the Corriere della Sera, the first time provisionally called Corriere dell’Informazione, the second become The new Corriere della Sera, exhibits Tale of a stranger e People, wine and rocks of the Cinque Terre, that is, the liminal writings of Dinard butterfly 1956 and (with the title The Cinque Terre) from Out of the house 1969: in both impressive is the ability, which Montale reveals, to prefigure in a nutshell the curvature, if not the structure, of his books
to come. In any case, it is worth not losing sight of the two most marginal plaquettes Poetry does not exist, of 1971, and Thirty-two variations, from 1972-1973, prepared by Vanni Scheiwiller with materials exclusively from Corriere della Sera; while the team of two great works is obviously more mixed, consisting of essays and articles distributed over a much longer chronological span, such as Auto da f (1966) e On poetry (1976): the latter edited ex professor by Giorgio Zampa, moreover not unrelated to the construction process of Dinard butterfly, from Auto da f, from Out of the house.

perhaps it is superfluous to note that the more than one thousand hundred articles destined by Montale for the various editions of the Corriere (the last one is entitled The tenants of via Bigli and dated March 10, 1979: Montale had been retired in 1964 and resigned on December 11, 1973) are a field of investigation that will reserve more than a surprise for future readers. Here and now you can be content to register the naturalness with which Montale immediately introjected the codes of a trade that was not his own in many ways, adopting and hybridizing (at first with careful caution, then with the boundless freedom that derives from the acquisition and stable possession of a non-controversial, absolute authority) genres, sub-genres, models and techniques of communication, on a line that was originally not forgotten of the lesson of Emilio Cecchi, but soon enriched and complicated by a very personal, unrepeatable range of harmonics.

Between 1946 and 1979 Montale did not deny himself anything, with the exception of the office of witness, no matter if privileged or secondary, of the internal life of the newspaper. He has reviewed an incredible number of other people’s books with ingenious disdain of every order and degree and has parsimoniously distilled some luminous self-interpretations (think of Clizia in Foggia, from 1949, to Two jackals on a leash, from 1950, toAuto interview, of 1971); he was a traveler eminently by election but he carried out the functions of the traditional envoy in Beirut for the third Unesco conference (1948), in Strasbourg at the Council of Europe (1950), in the Holy Land in the wake of Paul VI (1964) with ease ; has written, by force or by love, an astonishing number of obituaries, of extraordinary and not always compassionate acuity, of confrre Italians and foreigners, all deserving of attention that has not been there up to now. I will report only one, Memory of Roberto Bazlen (Corriere della Sera, 6 August 1965). Roberto Calasso spared no more than one in Montale pointe sharp. For example: More than a tribute to Bazlen, Montale’s obituary was an attempt to keep him at a distance – and, if possible, at an unbridgeable distance. Maybe: but without that tomb Bobi’s posthumous mythography would never take shape.

And Raboni intu: combining The storm and Satura – Today on newsstands, in an updated edition, the book that unites the two collections in a non-canonical way

Non-canonical pairing. Giovanni Raboni (1932-2004) moreover knew it well, the choice was his. And that is to unite in a single publication the poems of The storm and more (1956), probably the most beautiful of the tragic Montale, and the collection Content (1971), certainly the masterpiece of this comic Montale. It was a winning intuition, which is now proposed – on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Nobel Prize’s death on 12 September 1981 – in the volume Eugenio Montale. Poems, in a new, enriched and updated edition, from Friday 10 September on newsstands with Corriere della Sera (where it will remain for a month at € 9.90). The Corriere book, produced in collaboration with Mondadori, therefore finds the words of Raboni, who edited the series of the newspaper (it was 2004) La grande poesia. That non-canonical combination of Montale’s works inaugurated the exhibition. Preface by Raboni, just like today. To which is now added a new intervention by Franco Contorbia, one of the leading Montale scholars, who signs the bio-bibliographic apparatus. To accompany the two collections, in the new edition (the graphic project by XxY studio) is added the article that Giulio Nascimbeni (1923-2008), friend and biographer of Montale, wrote for Corriere da Stockholm on the day of the Nobel prize for the Literature to the poet, December 10, 1975. The volume also reports the speech that Montale gave two days later at the Swedish Academy entitled poetry still possible? . And then, again, there are Raboni’s words that explain, dig, clarify: Rather than separating one Montale from the other, we wanted to offer the essential frames of the change, of the transmigration of one into the other. And thus to suggest that with the great poets, including those we usually count or relegate to the “classics”, the accounts are never really closed: their image, if we know how to look at it carefully, can only appear to us in motion and almost poised on the wave of a perennial and disturbing becoming.

On newsstands

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the death of Eugenio Montale (Genoa, 12 October 1896 – Milan, 12 September 1981), Franco Contorbia, one of the poet’s leading scholars, former professor of modern and contemporary Italian literature at the University of Genoa, signs the article that we publish above. Contorbia also author of the bio-bibliographic apparatus of the new version of Eugenio Montale. Poems, the Corriere della Sera book that celebrates Montale, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1975. The volume, produced in collaboration with Mondadori, a renewed version of the text edited by Giovanni Raboni who in 2004 inaugurated the Corriere La grande poesia series. The book will be on newsstands from today (and for a month) with Corriere della Sera at € 9.90 plus the price of the newspaper.

September 10, 2021 (change September 10, 2021 | 11:28)


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