Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fernanda Pivano 1917-2009

[photo: Allen with Fernanda Pivano & Ettore Sottsass, probably in Rapallo near Genoa, at the time they were visiting Ezra Pound there, late Summer 1967. c. Allen Ginsberg Estate.]

[Ezra Pound, Allen Ginsberg and Fernanda Pivano La Gritta American Bar, Portofino, Italy, September 1967. c. Ettore Sottsass]

Yes, this is starting to look like some kind of obit page, but these things really do need mention. ANSA reported yesterday that Fernanda Pivano passed away Tuesday night at a clinic in Milan. She was 92 years old. A close friend of Allen's till his death (she & her ex husband Ettore Sottsass were one of the last phone conversations he had before slipping into a coma), as a translator she single handedly did more to introduce 20th Century American literature to Italy than any other Italian figure.

Her correspondence with Allen was so frequent and involved while translating his poems, that Allen would later use these as a basis for all his translation correspondences. The letter below is an example of just that sort of detail one could expect. In the early 2000s, Pivano donated her entire collection of letters and papers to the Fondazione Benetton Studi Richerche in Milan, and it is open to the public.

Letter from Allen to Nanda Pivano, Benares, March 2, 1963.
[courtesy Fondazione Benetton Studi Richerche, Milan]

Also, a clip of Pivano interviewing Kerouac:


  1. yes, she did quite a lot to bridge the beats's soul & words with the italian new renaissance, from late '60s up to her death, feeding our jumping and pulsing curiosity with her celestial translations, we grew up literally drinking her translations, before even trying to understand the nimble english jargon used by allen, jack, and the others, her style and life affected so many people not just in italy, and some (including quite famous figures) showed up at her funeral yesterday in genoa - as this article (in italian) explains:

    so long, nanda, e grazie mille!

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