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The Night Fountain

Published by Arc Publications

ISBN: 9781904614051

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Translated by Marco Sonzogni and Gerald Dawe

This book reproduces for the first time the contents of a manuscript given to a school-friend by the nineteen-year-old Quasimodo, a manuscript which only came to light in 1970 as a result of extensive investigations by the poet’s son Alessandro.

Frayed and faded, but with an orderly table of contents and sealed by the young poet’s signature, the manuscript contains poems written between 1917 and 1920. Here there are landscapes brimming with memories and vibrating with emotions, sounds that are intense and unmistakeable, images of Arcadia and autobiographical references. While the writing is not yet mature, it does contain hints of the poetic spirituality that was soon to emerge.

Quasimodo was a founding member of the ‘Hermetic’ school of Italian poetry (highly introspective, obscure, and much influenced by symbolism) in the 1930s. He later changed his standpoint, becoming more outward looking and more concerned with social issues.

Salvatore Quasimodo was born in 1901 and published his first collection of poetry in 1930. At around the same time he started translating the Greek and Roman poets, and later, Shakespeare, Molière, Neruda and e e cummings. During WWII, he was a member of an anti-fascist group, and after the war joined the communist party, although his membership was short-lived.

Quasimodo published a total of 14 collections of poetry, for which he received many prizes including, in 1953, the Etna-Taormina International Prize in Poetry with Dylan Thomas. In 1959, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died suddenly in Naples on 14 June 1968.

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