forthcoming November 12, 2019
“Nicola Gardini’s paean to Latin belongs on the shelf alongside Nabokov’s Lectures on Literature. With a similar blend of erudition, reverence, and impeccable close reading, he connects the dots between etymology and poetry, between syntax and society. And he proves, in the process, that a mysterious and magnificent language, born in ancient Rome, is still relevant to each and every one of us.”
―Jhumpa Lahiri, author of In Other Words
“Nicola Gardini’s Long Live Latin is not only a learned crash course in the splendors of Latin literature, but also an inspiring demonstration on why Latin still matters. Passionate, wise, and, finally, ennobling, this is a must read for anyone with even a passing interest in the subject.”
―Ann Patty, author of Living with a Dead Language: My Romance with Latin
Long Live Latin
by Nicola Gardini
translated by Todd Portnowitz
Farrar, Straus and Giroux : 12 November 2019 : 224 pp. : 9780374284527
A lively exploration of the joys of a not-so-dead language
From the acclaimed novelist and Oxford professor Nicola Gardini, a personal and passionate look at the Latin language: its history, its authors, its essential role in education, and its enduring impact on modern life―whether we call it “dead” or not.
What use is Latin? It’s a question we’re often asked by those who see the language of Cicero as no more than a cumbersome heap of ruins, something to remove from the curriculum. In this sustained meditation, Gardini gives us his sincere and brilliant reply: Latin is, quite simply, the means of expression that made us―and continues to make us―who we are. In Latin, the rigorous and inventive thinker Lucretius examined the nature of our world; the poet Propertius told of love and emotion in a dizzying variety of registers; Caesar affirmed man’s capacity to shape reality through reason; Virgil composed the Aeneid, without which we’d see all of Western history in a different light.
In Long Live Latin, Gardini shares his deep love for the language―enriched by his tireless intellectual curiosity―and warmly encourages us to engage with a civilization that has never ceased to exist, because it’s here with us now, whether we know it or not. Thanks to his careful guidance, even without a single lick of Latin grammar readers can discover how this language is still capable of restoring our sense of identity, with a power that only useless things can miraculously express.
TODD PORTNOWITZ (1986) is an editor, poet, and Italian translator. His translation of Long Live Latin by Nicola Gardini will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in November, 2019. His poetry translations include Midnight in Spoleto by Paolo Valesio (Fomite, 2018) and Go Tell It to the Emperor: The Selected Poems of Pierluigi Cappello, forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil press. He has received honors from the Academy of American Poets (Raiziss/de Palchi Fellowship, 2015, Affiliated Fellow at the American Academy in Rome) and the Bread Loaf Translators Conference. An Assistant Editor at Alfred A. Knopf, he is also a co-founder and editor of the Italian poetry blog Formavera, a co-director of the Brooklyn-based reading series for writer-translators, Us&Them, and is on the board of the Amy Clampitt Fund.
Go Tell It to the Emperor
The Selected Poems of Pierluigi Cappello
translated by Todd Portnowitz
Spuyten Duyvil Press : 1 October 2019 : 182 pp. : 9781949966367
From one of Italy’s most widely read and deeply treasured poets: an essential collection of verse, selected from all five of his major works, bringing this unique, mesmerizing voice to an English-speaking audience for the first time.
The poems of Pierluigi Cappello “seem all to have been written in pencil,” his translator Todd Portnowitz notes in the introduction to this volume, “elegies for fading memories, they threaten impermanence on the page. And yet the words hold, so assured are they in their leave-taking.”
Whether writing of his snowy home in the Italian alps, of his beloved father, of his extended circle of friends and family, Cappello comes to the reader with his all-embracing spirit, a tenderness and generosity expressed in an everyday language that defies its own simplicity, and a serene clarity that recalls the lyrical work of W. S. Merwin and Wisława Szymborska.
Beginning with his masterful Go Tell It To the Emperor, this selection—supported by a Raiziss/de Palchi Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets—moves backward toward Cappello’s early work, and closes with a “coda” of poems from the last years of his short life. The victim of a motorbike accident at age sixteen, which severed his spine and left him paralyzed from the waist down, Cappello is a poet of extraordinary resilience, who gazes out on the world with patience and persistence, summoning it with language, refusing to let it drift.
Read Original Poems & Translations Online
The Us&Them reading series
Launched in the summer of 2015 by Todd Portnowitz and Sam Bett, Us&Them is a quarterly reading series, held at Molasses Books in Brooklyn, that gives writer-translators a platform to read from both sides of their work. Each reading features four readers and showcases literature from all over the world. Beyond Brooklyn, special Us&Them events have been held in Massachusetts, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Cuba.