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Viviane Alleton
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Michael Lackner

I. Le jeu européen des langues

Italian translations of Chinese literature

Les traductions italiennes de littérature chinoise

Federico Masini

Résumé

La sinologie européenne fut inaugurée par des jésuites italiens arrivés en Chine à partir de la fin du xvie siècle et tout au long du xviie siècle. Les sinologues italiens du xixe et du début du xxe siècle traduisirent surtout des textes littéraires, du chinois vernaculaire aussi bien que classique. Leurs œuvres furent moins diffusées que les retraductions réalisées par des non-sinologues, sur la base de versions précédentes dans d’autres langues européennes. Exemple : un poème de Li Bo (époque Tang) traduit en français par D’Hervey-Saint-Denys (1862), retraduit dans la même langue, avec l’aide d’un informateur chinois, par Judith Gauthier (1867), retraduit en italien sur la base de la version de Gauthier par Tullo Massarani (1882), repris, à partir D’Hervey-Saint-Denys et Gauthier, par le poète Arturo Onofri (1916) et par Mario Chini (1918) ; c’est en 1901 qu’un sinologue, Guido Vitale, traduisit pour la première fois ce poème directement de chinois en italien.
Entre la Première et la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, la rareté des traductions et l’absence de toute retraduction firent que la littérature chinoise disparut presque des librairies italiennes.
Après la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, une nouvelle école sinologique se forma en Italie et réalisa un travail important d’histoire littéraire, de critique et de traduction, en particulier de la littérature romanesque. Avec un impact moindre que précédemment, des retraductions continuèrent à paraître. Les années soixante furent marquées par la vogue des nouvelles et importantes traductions de classiques. Plus récemment, l’intérêt s’est porté sur les auteurs contemporains.

Note de l’auteur

I would like to express my gratitude to professor Giuliano Bertuccioli of the Uni-versity of Rome for his kind assistance during the preparation of this work. As this article was finished in August 1994, see also Bertuccioli and Masini 1996, Bertuccioli 1995, Lanciotti 1995.

Texte intégral

The beginning of European sinology in Italy

1I don’t think I could be accused of nationalism in saying that sinology was born in Italy. It is a fact that the first modem studies on China and Chinese culture were conducted by the Italian Jesuits who arrived in China at the very end of the 16th century. Michele Ruggieri (1543-1607), Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), Ludovico Buglio (1606-1682), Martino Martini (1614-1661) and Prospero Intorcetta (1625-1696) were the first Europeans to gain a first-hand knowledge of China, its language and culture. Essentially their goal was to present Western culture to the Chinese, with the aim of spreading their religious beliefs and, at the same time, develop knowledge of China in Europe, in order to gain wider support for their missionary activity in the Far East.

  • 1 Regarding the first translations of Chinese classics in Latin, cf. Lundbaek 1979.

2Ricci introduced the Chinese to some elements of western philosophy in his Jiaoyou lun or De Amicitia (1603) (cf. D’Elia 1942: 367-369); Giulio Aleni (1582-1649) described Western geography, institutions, customs and habits in his works Zhifang waiji (Record of the Places Outside the Competence of the Office of Geography) (1623), Xixue fan (The Generality of Western Science) (1623) and Xifang dawen (Questions and Answers Regarding the West) (1637); Martini included many quotations from Latin and Greek classics in his Qiuyou pian or De Amicitia (1661) (cf. Henry 1945). In the same period, however, the Jesuits also began translating Chinese classics into Latin. The first works were translated by Ricci and Michele Ruggieri at the very end of the 16th century. Michele Ruggieri’s translation of the first part of the Great Learning was included in Antonio Possevino’s Bibliotheca Selecta, printed in Rome in 1593. In 1662 Intorcetta published a Latin version of the Great Learning and a segment of the Analects in his Sapienza Sinica. In 1667 he published The Doctrine of the Mean in his Sinarum Scientia politico-moralis.1 Together with Christian Herdtrich (1625-1684), François de Rougemont (1624-1676) and Philippe Couplet (1622-1693), Intorcetta finally published the first complete version of the Great Learning, The Doctrine of the Mean and the Analects in Confucius Sinarum Philosophus sive Scientia Sinensis latine exposita (Couplet 1687).

3The early Italian sinologists also contributed to the preparation of the first basic tools for translation from the Chinese language. Ricci was the first to compile a Chinese-Portuguese dictionary and Martini edited the first Grammatica Sinica, although, unfortunately, these works remained in manuscript. Other missionaries followed in their path, preparing more tools for the study of the Chinese language. Here I would like especially to recall the dictionary prepared in Nanjing between 1694 and 1699 by the Franciscan, Basilio Brollo (1648-1704), from Gemona. For some reason, he was not able to publish the manuscript, which was printed in Paris by the French scholar, Joseph De Guigne, in 1813, no mention was made of the real author of the dictionary, thus starting a long drawn out dispute among some of the most outstanding European sinologists of the time, such as Abel Rémusat and Julius von Klaproth, who eventually uncovered De Guignes’ fraud (Rémusat 1814, Klaproth 1819).

4After this rather brilliant start, the translation activity of Italian sinologists then followed the great achievements of other Western sinologists, mostly French and British. Only two short translations were published in Italian in the 17th century (Anon. 1631, Manni 1697) and only two translations between the 18th and the early 19th century: the latter were both re-translations from other Western languages, one from French (Mailla 1777-1785, Anon. 1781) and one from English (Staun-ton 1810, Anon. 1812).

Italian translations from the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century. The first Italian translators and the re-translations of French and English translations

  • 2 On the history of French sinology, see in particular Cordier 1936: 59-103, Demiéville 1973: 433-487

5The year 1814 can be regarded as the beginning of modern sinology in Europe. In fact, the first chair of Chinese was established in Europe at the Collège de France in Paris on December 11th, 1814. After several centuries, in which China was studied mainly by missionaries with a first-hand knowledge of the country and its language, but relatively little interest in its literature and social habits, by the end of the 18th century French sinology was starting to develop more sophisticated research patterns to investigate the cultural and political reality of China. On the other hand, early 19th-century sinology lacked the direct contact with the country that had allowed the Jesuit sinologists of previ-ous centuries to first introduce China to Europe, and vice versa.2

6French sinology had an evident impact on Italian 19th-century sinologists and translators. As in France, there were several scholars deeply interested in Chinese culture and literature, though completely lacking a first-hand knowledge of the Chinese spoken language.

  • 3 Demiéville: 456.
  • 4 On the history of Italian sinology, see Bertuccioli 1991: 9-39, 1993: 9-22.

7The first to hold the chair of “langues et littératures chinoises et tar-tares-mandchoues” at the Collège de France was Abel Rémusat (1788-1832). Following the path of the French Jesuit, Joseph de Prémare (1666-1735), Rémusat continued the tradition of research on the Chinese language and grammar, which is still flourishing in France. He was succeeded by one of his best pupils, Stanislas Julien (1797-1873), described as le meilleur sinologue européen de son temps”.3 Among his students, there were two Italians: Alfonso Andreozzi (1821-1894) and Antelmo Severini (1828-1909), who inherited their teacher’s interest in Chinese vernacular literature.4 Julien was one of the first European sinologists to study and translate pieces of Chinese popular literature, which had never attracted the interest of Jesuit sinologists.

8In addition to his translations of various Chinese texts, on grasshoppers (Andreozzi 1860, 1870), the prevention of smallpox (1862), and the 23rd chapter of the Hou Hanshu on Chinese penal law (1878), Andreozzi deserves a special mention for having been one of the first to present excerpts of the vernacular novel Shui hu in a European language. These were published with the title Il dente di Budda (1883, 1885). The translation is extremely accurate, for someone who had never been to China and had virtually no tools for translating vernacular Chinese. It was very well received by Arthur Waley, an authority on Chinese literature:

  • 5 Cf. Irwin 1953: 94, 111, note 85, and Casacchia 1984, vol. I, tome I: 311-322.

Andreozzi translated part of ch. 43, the whole of ch. 44, and part of ch. 45 [of the 70 chapters version]. As Andreozzi was one of Stanislas Julien’s best pupils and did important first translations of other works, there is every reason to suppose that he translated the Shui hu chapters direct from Chinese. My impression is that the translation is very good.5

9Although Andreozzi was probably a better scholar than his fellow-student in Paris, Antelmo Severini, the latter was appointed in 1863 to the first chair of “lingue deU’Estremo Oriente” at the Reale Istituto di Studi Superiori in Florence. Severini translated primarily Japanese literature and presented only one piece of Chinese literature in Italian (Severini 1867).

10After Severini’s death, Carlo Puini (1839-1924) took over the chair of Oriental languages in Florence, while Lodovico Nocentini (1849-1910) and Amedeo Vitale (1862-1918) began the teaching of Chinese at the University of Rome and the Istituto Universitario Orientale of Naples, respectively.

  • 6 The Liji was first rendered in a European language by Giuseppe Maria Calleri, an Italian sinologist (...)

11Although Puini was one of the most prolific Italian translators of Chinese literature of this period, he too lacked knowledge of the Chinese spoken language. One of his best translations was the Italian version of seven short stories taken from the Ming collection Longtu gong’an, published with the title Novelle cinesi tolte dal Long-tu-kungngan (Puini 1872). With the aim of presenting the political and juridical institutions of ancient China, he also translated three chapters of the Liji (XXIII, XXIV and XXV) (1883, 1886).6

12Lodovico Nocentini was the first of the early Italian translators of the time to have the opportunity to live in China, since he was appointed “allievo interprete” at the Italian consulate in Shanghai in 1883. However, he never acquired a good command of the spoken language and returned to Italy to continue his career as professor of Chinese at the University of Rome in 1888 (Bertuccioli 1991: 19-23). Before leaving for China, Nocentini published two translations of the Sacred Edict by Emperor Kangxi and his son Yongzheng (Sheng yu guang xun), most probably on the basis of the English or French translations already available (Nocentini 1880, 1883) (Cordier 1905-1906: cols. 1426-1428). Back in Italy he published three articles and a book of translations of short, edifying stories and sentences regarding filial piety, taken from popular editions most probably collected during his stay in China (Nocentini 1889, 1896a, 1896b, 1907).

  • 7 Debonis was Vitale’s pen-name.

13Before analysing the group of Italian re-translations from previous English and French versions, I would like to mention the translation into Italian of a few Chinese poems published by Guido Vitale (1872-1918), one of the best Italian sinologists of the time (Vitale 1901, Debonis 19017). During his service as Italian Interpreter to the Italian Legation in Peking from 1892 to 1914, Vitale’s linguistic ability was held in high esteem by his superior, Ambassador Daniele Varé, the author of The Laughing Diplomat (1938). In 1901 Vitale also published an English version of 170 popular songs in the volume Chinese Folklore, Pekinese Rhymes (1896), which was warmly received by the famous Chinese scholar Hu Shi (1891-1962) (Bertuccioli 1991: 23-25).

14Last but not least, I would like to refer to Angelo Zottoli’s (1826-1902) monumental anthology of Chinese literature in five volumes, Cursus Litteraturae Sinicae (Zottoli 1878-1882). Although this work was composed in Latin, it is surely the most remarkable contribution of early Italian sinology to the knowledge of Chinese literature in the West.

15Unlike these early translations into Italian which had little influence on Italian readers, the translations of Chinese literature (mostly of Chinese poetry) re-translated into Italian by non-sinologists on the basis of previous versions in other European languages, were relatively widely read. Moreover, these re-translations introduced aspects of Chinese literature not previously noticed by Italian sinologists.

Zhaoshi guer by Joseph de Prémare, published in the non-sinologist Du Halde’s Description de la Chine (Du Halde 1735), had inspired Metastasio’s drama, L’eroe cinese (Metastasio 1813), staged for the first time in Schönbrunn in 1752, and Voltaire’s L’Orphelin de la Chine, put on stage for the first time in Paris in 1755, the translations by non-sinologists exerted a certain influence on Italian poets and writers of this period.8
  • 9 I have still not been able to determine the source of the poem included by Cantù: “Ecco il tempo ch (...)

16Some of the first re-translations in Italian of Chinese literature were included by Cantù in his monumental Documenti per la Storia Universale (Cantù 1845) published in 1841, where he gave a short presentation of Chinese literature. These re-translations, taken from the French works by Du Halde, Julien and Bazin, evidently influenced the well-know Italian poet, Giosuè Carducci (1835-1907), for in 1853, when he was only eighteen, he composed the lyric Primavera cinese, inspired by a Chinese poem by the Ming poet Gao Qi, zi Jidi (indicated by Cantù as Kaokiti) (1336-1374) included in Cantù’s history.9

  • 10 Walter was the pen-name of Judith Gauthier.

17In 1882 Tullo Massarani (1826-1905) re-translated into Italian Judith Gauthier’s Le Livre de jade (Walter 1867).10 For his translation Massarani preferred the version of the poems by Gauthier, who was not a sinologist, to the more accurate sinological version by D’Hervey-Saint-Denys (1862). Massarani chose not to adopt the innovative form of expression of the poème en prose, used by the two French translators, and continued to favour a more affected style, attempting to force the Chinese poem within rigid metric and rhyme patterns.

18The great success of Massarani’s collection (which was again re-printed in 1909, after Massarani’s death) probably led to the publication of a short collection of Chinese poems prepared by a certain Giovanni Bindi (1888), perhaps the pen-name used by the famous Italian poet and writer Gabriele D’Annunzio (1863-1938), who in those years was fasci-nated by Japanese and Chinese literature (D’Alessio 1994: 15). In the same period a number of Chinese poems were also included in Canini’s Libro dell’Amore, a five-volume collection of world love verse (Canini 1885-1890), mostly re-translated from Jules Arène, La Chine familière et galante (Arène 1883).

  • 11 Zottoli 1878, D’Hervey-Saint-Denys 1862, Giles 1898, Mayers 1874.

19Interestingly some early 20th-century Italian poets tried to exploit the essentials of Tang poetry in searching for new models of poetical expression. In 1916 the poet Arturo Onofri (1885-1928), compiled a note-book of Chinese verse, which he re-translated from Gauthier’s and D’Hervey-Saint-Denys’ versions. Only some excerpts were published (Onofri 1919) and the note-book circulated mainly in the hand-written form among some of the most important poets and writers of the time. It has only recently been printed in its original form (Onofri 1994). In 1918, Mario Chini published a collection of Chinese poems, re-translated from Zottoli, D’Hervey-Saint-Denys, Giles and Mayers.11 In the introduction he wrote:

  • 12 “La forma speciale della scrittura cinese, ch’è ideografica (...), la disposizione degli ideogrammi (...)

The special features of Chinese ideographic writing (...), the arrangement of the ideograms is similar, within certain limits, to that used by many contemporary poets; the lack of particles, the indetermination of the words, which take a precise meaning only from their position, correspond to the free words used today...12 (Chini 1918: xxxii).

20Through the French versions, the Italians were able to appreciate and later develop in their writing the essentiality of the Tang poems, as D’Hervey-Saint-Denys wrote: “Il serait difficile, je crois, de dire moins et de donner tout à la fois plus à entendre” (1862: xlv-xlvi).

  • 13 "Codesta donna (...) è assai più vera e commovente di tutte le straordinarie eroine della poesia Ro (...)

21While Chinese poetry was celebrated by many Italian writers and poets, I have only found one case of an Italian writer who appreciated Chinese novels. In 1899, Giovanni Alfredo Cesareo (1869-1937), an Italian writer from Sicily, published a collection of literary criticism essays containing a short piece entitled “Cineserie”, where he espe-cially celebrated Chinese novels on historical and legendary subjects and presented some excerpts from Chinese re-translated from German (Cesareo 1899). Talking of a Chinese heroine, he wrote: “This woman (...) is more true and touching than all the extraordinary heroines of Western Romantic poetry”.13

22Before concluding the analysis of the translations of this period, I would like to give just one example of the different ways of presenting a Chinese poem employed in that period: the French versions by Gauthier and D’Hervey-Saint-Denys using the form of poème en prose, the retranslations by Massarani, based on the French version, but rendered using a more affected style, the freer style of Onofri and Chini, and an attempt by the sinologist Vitale.

23I take as an example the following famous Tang poem by Li Bo:

24Knowing Chinese fairly well, D’Hervey-Saint-Denys translated the poem in 1862 as follows:

Devant mon lit, la lune jette une clarté très vive;
Je doute un moment si ce n’est point la gelée blanche
qui brille sur le sol.
Je lève la tête, je contemple la lune brillante;
Je baisse la tête et je pense à mon pays.
(D’Hervey-Saint-Denys 1862 : 44)

25In 1867 Judith Gauthier, who did not know Chinese, re-translated the same poem with the help of a Chinese assistant (I indicate in italics the parts which are not present in the Chinese original):

L’auberge

Je me suis couché dans ce lit d’auberge ;
la lune, sur le parquet, jetait une lueur
blanche.
Et j’ai d’abord cru qu’il avait neigé sur
le parquet.
J’ai levé la tête vers la lune claire, et j’ai
songé aux pays que je vais parcourir et aux
étrangers qu’il me faudra voir.
Puis j’ai baissé la tête vers le parquet, et
j’ai songé à mon pays et aux amis que je ne
verrai plus.
(Walter 1902: 125-126.)

26Tullo Massarani re-translated the poem in Italian from Gauthier’s version. He used the same degree of freedom with regard to the original, but employing versification:

In un letto d’albergo io mi giaceva;
Un bagliore sul lastrico battea e
Candido sì,
che neve mi sembrò.
Levai la faccia al chiaro astro nascente,
E a quel lume volsi in mente
Popoli e terre che veder dovrò.
Indi al suolo chinati i mesti rai,
Al mio paese tacito pensai,
E agli amici che più non rivedrò.
(Massarani 1882: 92-93.)

27In 1916 the poet Arturo Onofri prepared an Italian version of many Chinese poems taken from D’Hervey-Saint-Denys and Gauthier’s French editions, and he twice re-translated the poem following the two French translators.

28According to Gauthier:

29L’Albergo

30Mi son coricato in questo letto d’albergo; la luna, sull’assito, gettava un lucore bianco.
E dapprima ho creduto che avesse nevicato sull’assito.
Ho levato la testa verso la luna chiara, e ho pensato ai paesi che sto per attraversare e agli stranieri che dovrô vedere.
Poi ho abbassato la testa verso l’assito, e ho pensato al mio paese e agli amici che non rivedrà più.

31And according to D’Hervey-Saint-Denys:

Pensiero in una notte tranquilla.
Davanti al mio letto, la luna getta un chiarore vivissimo;
Io dubito un momento se non sia la gelata bianca che brilla al suolo.
Levo la testa, contemplo la luna splendente;
Abbasso la testa e penso al mio paese.
(Onofri 1994: 61-62.)

32In 1918 Mario Chini also used a free versification:

Mi sveglio: nella camera
entra un raggio lunare.
È brina? Per un attimo
la sto incerto a mirare.
Ma guardo fuori, e m’occupa
una tristezza arcana...
Ahi,
questa luna illumina
la mia casa lontana!
(Chini 1916: 85.)

33Finally the version by the Italian sinologist Guido Vitale, published in 1901:

Splende la luna davanti al mio letto
e fa la terra brillar di rugiada:
chino la testa mia stanca sul petto
piango
pensando alla patria contrada.
(Vitale 1901: 30.)

  • 14 “Per nostra disgrazia i nostri sinologici hanno una comprensibile avversione a tra-durre la poesia. (...)

34Unfortunately, Vitale was the only Italian sinologist to present an Italian version of some Chinese poems. In 1916, the Italian writer Giovanni Papini (1881-1956) expressed his regret for the indifference of Italian sinology for Chinese poetry: “It is our misfortune that our sinologists have an understandable aversion for translating poetry. They are only interested in philosophical and religious texts and history.”14 Clearly, if Chinese poetry had a certain influence on Italian literature, it was due only to the translations by professional writers and poets and not by Italian sinologists.

35Italian poets and writers continued to translate Chinese poems in the following decades. However, while these translations had the merit of presenting to the Italian public Chinese poetry and literature, after the first decades of the century their influence declined and they had little impact on new generations of Italian poets and writers.

36A very good re-translation of some Chinese poems is included in the Italian version of Lin Yutang’s The Importance of Living, prepared in Italian by the poet and writer Pietro Jahier (1939). Another example of the influence exerted by non sinologist translations of Chinese literature is testified by the enthusiastic preface which Eugenio Montale (1896-1981), laureate of the Nobel Prize for literature, wrote for the re-translation by Giorgia Valensin of Waley’s translations of Chinese poems, Liriche cinesi, published in 1943 and since then reprinted many times (Valensin 1943).

37Between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries several other Chinese texts translated into French were re-translated into Italian: the Lisao (Sanctis 1900), some stories from the Liaozhai zhiyi (Colbonsin 1900), the Dao de jing (Evans 1905) and the Xixiang ji from Julien’s version (Chini 1916). At the same time, some Chinese poems, already published in various books and magazines, were included in various anthologies of universal poetry (Morandi and Ciàm-poli 1903, Zoppi 1949).

38Before going on to consider some new sinological translations published in the first decades of the 20th century, I would just stress that, although Chinese poetry and literature in general exerted some influence on European literature, unfortunately this was due not to the efforts of the first European modem sinologists, but mostly to some versatile writers who, using the translations by sinologists, were able to present Chinese literature to European readers, often disregarding the original texts, but using a freer prose and, in so doing, attracting a wider audience.

A few sinological translations after the First World War

39Between the two wars the most important Italian sinologist was the Jesuit Pasquale D’Elia, who gained a certain international name for his critical editions of Matteo Ricci’s World-Map, including the Italian translation of the Chinese explanation of the map (D’Elia 1935), and the Fonti Ricciane (D’Elia 1942) (Bertuccioli 1993b: 14, 1988: 632-634). As a Jesuit, he followed the interests of his predecessors. In his Antologia cinese, dalle origini ai nostri giorni (D’Elia 1950), he translated mainly moral Chinese works and excerpts written in Chinese regarding Jesuit missionaries, without taking into due consideration Chinese drama, poetry and novels. D’Elia translated also a few Chinese pre-Qin poems (D’Elia 1945).

40Two translations of Chinese philosophical works also appeared in the same period, the Confucian Analects (Castellani 1924a) and the Dao de jing (Castellani 1927). Castellani also wrote an article on Chinese poetry, including some translations (Castellani 1924b). In 1938 Gabriele M. Allegra published an Italian translation of Qu Yuan’s Li Sao (Allegra 1938).

41Clearly, during this period, Chinese translations in Italian were still sporadic and far removed from any systematic presentation of Chinese literature. Meanwhile, re-translations into Italian from other European languages had ceased completely, and Chinese literature had virtually disappeared from Italian book shops. We have to wait until the end of World War Two to see a renewed Italian interest in Chinese literature.

Post-war translations

After the classics, more poetry and literature: A new beginning for Chinese translations

  • 15 Letter by P. Demiéville to G. Bertuccioli, dated January 12th, 1969. Courtesy of G. Bertuccioli.

42Translations of Chinese literature in Italian started to flourish after World War Two thanks to the formation of a new sinological school in Italy. The first Italian to cultivate a sinological interest in Chinese literature was Giuliano Bertuccioli, who lived in China from 1946 to 1950 and was a diplomat in the Far East for over thirty years, before becom-ing professor of Chinese language and literature at the University of Rome. Since 1945, when he published the first translations from Tao Yuanming, Bertuccioli has continuously translated Chinese literature over the years. His Storia della letteratura cinese, originally published in 1959 and in a new edition in 1968, is the first complete presentation of Chinese literature ever to appear in Italian. It includes a wide selection of original translations from Chinese sources, from the Shijing to modern literature. His works were very well received by European sinologists, as testified by the following words of Paul Demiéville: “Je vous félicite cordialement de votre nouvelle histoire de la littérature chinoise qui, avec la grosse et utile bibliographie et tout le reste, est tellement au progrès sur la première déjà excellente. Je n’en vois guère de meilleure pour le moment en aucune langue d’Occident”.15

43Other histories of Chinese literature also appeared in the Sixties, including different translations from original Chinese sources. Lionello Lanciotti, a student of Bernhard Karlgren in Stockholm and J.J.L Duyv-endak in Leiden, former professor of sinology at the Istituto Universi-tario Orientale of Naples, published a Storia della letteratura cinese (Lanciotti 1969). It contains a detailed presentation of Chinese vernacular literature from the beginning until the present day. Piero Corradini, now professor of History of East Asia at the University of Rome, published a history and an anthology of Chinese literature (Corradini 1970a, 1970b).

44The publication of the yearly magazine Cina, edited by L. Lanciotti, was also responsible for giving added impetus to the Italian translation of Chinese literature. The magazine, published by the Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente (IsMEO, Rome) since 1956, dedicated most of its early issues to the presentation of Chinese literature in Italian translation. Besides the above-mentioned scholars, others also published translations from Chinese literature in the first years.

45In addition to Chinese poetry and classics, Italian translators of the period also showed a keen interest in the Chinese novel, an area of Chinese literature previously little studied and translated. L. Lanciotti published the first complete version of Shen Fu’s Fusheng liuji (Lanciotti and Tsui Tao Lu 1955) and Ludovico Antonio Di Giura a complete version of Liaozhai zhiyi (Guira 1955). Edoarda Masi published a translation of the Hong lou meng (Masi 1964).

46Re-translations from other European languages also continued dur-ing this period: in 1955 the Jin Ping Mei was re-translated from an English version (Jahier and Stoneman 1955), the Shui hu zhuan (Bovero 1956) from the German version by Franz Kuhn (Kuhn 1934), the Xi y ou ji by Motti (1960) from the English version by Arthur Waley (1942).

47Although these re-translations undoubtedly introduced some of the most important Chinese novels to a wider public, they never had the same impact as the re-translations of the previous decades, which had attracted the interest of Italian poets and writers.

48Following the international trend of western sinology, in the post-war decades there was an unexpected growth in the numbers of Italian translations from Chinese, and Italian sinology made some small contribution in terms of introducing Chinese literature to Western readers.

The last decades

49Since the number of translations of this period is quite large, here I will only summarise the most important trends.

50In the Sixties, Italian translators concentrated largely on Chinese short stories, previously little studied. A volume of short novels by Lu Xun (Bianciardi 1955) and one by Mao Dun (Fubini 1955) from English versions were followed by two collections of short stories from modern Chinese literature edited by Primerose Gigliesi from the original: a volume of novels by Lu Xun (Gigliesi 1965a) and a volume including stories by Lu Xun, Ba Jin, Mao Dun, etc. (Gigliesi 1965b). In the Seventies and Eighties Italian translators translated many of the short stories, novels and writings of the most important authors of pre-1949 Chinese literature.

51In the last decades new translations of Chinese classics and classical literature have also appeared, for example: Fausto Tomassini’s translations of philosophical and historical classics (Tomassini 1974, 1977, 1984), a collection of classical prose and a selection of the Longtu gong’an, both edited by Bertuccioli (1988, 1990), a collection of Chinese huaben stories and the Sanshiliu ji, both edited by Giorgio Casacchia (1986, 1990), a translation of the Ming novel Xiyou bu, edited by Paolo Santangelo (1992).

52In the Eighties and Nineties translations were also made of the works of some post-Cultural Revolution authors. The only one to gain a certain fame, also among the general public, was A Cheng’s Three Kings, Stories, translated by Maria Rita Masci (1989, 1990, 1991a) which have been reprinted many times. Another text of the same author has been published (Masci 1991b).

53Although in the last decades the number of Italian translations from Chinese has increased quite remarkably, compared with the number and quality of translations in other Western languages, the Italian production is still far from satisfactory. What is still lacking is a general approach to modern Chinese literature. The translations have been published in a random, sporadic fashion, and consequently the Italian public has never been presented with a truly complete view of modem Chinese literature.

A selected bibliography of Italian translations from Chinese works16

  • 16 The list is, as far as possible, complete until 1945. Thereafter, only few translations have been i




    (...)

Allegra, Gabriele M. 1938. Incontro al dolore di Kiu Yuen. Shanghai, A.B.C. Press. (Lanciotti: 237)

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Notes

1 Regarding the first translations of Chinese classics in Latin, cf. Lundbaek 1979.

2 On the history of French sinology, see in particular Cordier 1936: 59-103, Demiéville 1973: 433-487.

3 Demiéville: 456.

4 On the history of Italian sinology, see Bertuccioli 1991: 9-39, 1993: 9-22.

5 Cf. Irwin 1953: 94, 111, note 85, and Casacchia 1984, vol. I, tome I: 311-322.

6 The Liji was first rendered in a European language by Giuseppe Maria Calleri, an Italian sinologist naturalised French (Calleri 1853). Cf. Bertuccioli 1986.

7 Debonis was Vitale’s pen-name.

8 On the influence exerted by Chinese poetry on Italian late-19th-and early-20th-century poetry, see D’Alessio 1994: 7-33.

9 I have still not been able to determine the source of the poem included by Cantù: “Ecco il tempo che zefiro è più leggero, che più dolce è la pioggia: una mattinata cangia in rami le gemme che un arbusto germogliò. I miei sentimenti volano in versi leggeri, come questa nebbia che colora gli archi del ponte, come questi rami, la cui ombra trem-ula al soffio della primavera. Oh infelice chi si strugge a cavar l’oro dalle viscere della terra! La neve che testè empiva il cielo, bel soggetto a meditare. Se la colomba viaggia-trice chiede il numero dei miei pensieri, sappia che più presto si conteranno le ciocche di seta sospese a questa pianta.” (Cantù 1845: 573) The lyric by Carducci, composed on October 12, 1853, is now in Cardicco 1935, vol. II, Juvenilia, Libro 2, 33: 69-70.

10 Walter was the pen-name of Judith Gauthier.

11 Zottoli 1878, D’Hervey-Saint-Denys 1862, Giles 1898, Mayers 1874.

12 “La forma speciale della scrittura cinese, ch’è ideografica (...), la disposizione degli ideogrammi è, dentro certi limiti, affine a quella usata da molti poeti odiernissimi; la mancanza di particelle, la indeterminatezza de’ vocaboli, che piglian precisone di sig-nificato soltanto per la loro collocazione, corrispondono aile parole in libertà oggi in uso...” Also partially quoted in D’Alessio 1994: 20.

13 "Codesta donna (...) è assai più vera e commovente di tutte le straordinarie eroine della poesia Romantica d’Occidente". Cf. Cesareo 1899: 89.

14 “Per nostra disgrazia i nostri sinologici hanno una comprensibile avversione a tra-durre la poesia. A loro non premono che i testi filosofici e religiosi – e la storia”, Papini 1916 and Papini 1959: 1230. Quoted in D’Alessio 1994: 22.

15 Letter by P. Demiéville to G. Bertuccioli, dated January 12th, 1969. Courtesy of G. Bertuccioli.

16 The list is, as far as possible, complete until 1945. Thereafter, only few translations have been included. Abbreviations:
Cordier: Henri Cordier. 1904-1908, 1922-1924. Bibliotheca Sinica. 5 vols. Paris.
Gabrieli: Giuseppe Gabrieli. “Le Lingue e letterature dell’estremo Oriente”, in Bibliografia degli studi orientalistici in Italia dal 1912 al 1934. Rome, 1935: 144-152.
Lanciotti: Lionello Lanciotti. “Cina, Corea e Mongolia”, in Contributo italiano alla conoscenza dell’Oriente-Repertorio bibliografico dal 1935 al 1958. Florence, Le Monnier, 1962: 237-254.
Vacca: Giovanni Vacca. “Asia Orientale”, “Gli studi orientalistici in Italia negli ultimi cinquant’anni (1861-1911)”, Rivista degli studi orientali, V, 1913-1917: 275-319.
Vitiello: Giovanni Vitiello. Bibliografia sinologica italiana (1959-1987). Rome, Associazione Italiana per gli studi cinesi, 1988: 5-85.

Auteur

Federico Masini

Università degli Studi di Roma “la Sapienza”, Rome.

© Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme, 1999

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