Friday, 17 February 2017

Charlotte Brontë's Juvenilia in Italian

A new translation edited by Maddalena De Leo

Under the title of Juvenilia, published by Robin Edizioni La Biblioteca del Vascello, four engaging tales by a young Charlotte Brontë can be found. Two of them are very long - almost short novels. They allow the reader to open a window on the immature writing of the extraordinary English author, which is already of great strength and passion.

In 2016 the well-known Italian scholar edited two Brontë translation texts respectively for the publishers Argolibro (Stories of Genies and Fairies) and Ripostes (I Componimenti Brussels) to celebrate the bicentennial of Charlotte Brontë, so this  third volume completes the triad.

In particular in this book is appearing for the first time ever in Italian, the translation of the beautiful novella Caroline Vernon accompanied with three other exciting stories from Angria: Lily Hart, another unpublished one, The Secret and Henry Hastings, already published in the past in De Leo’s translation but now out of print and therefore unavailable in Italy. All four texts are accompanied by a broad and comprehensive introduction.

Caroline Vernon is the last story belonging to Angria saga and the one that demarcates the transition from the early writings to the artistic maturity of Charlotte Brontë. Divided into two parts, the long tale follows the story of the young natural daughter of the Count of Northangerland who, from the segregated, quiet country life she leads with her mother, suddenly finds herself catapulted into high society and the elegant salons of Paris. The young Caroline is then drawn in by the seductive arts of the cynical godfather, the Duke of Zamorna, becoming his unwitting prey.

        Lily Hart is on the other hand a delicious fairy tale of love set in Africa, written by Brontë in 1833, at the height of the collaboration with her brother Branwell with whom she carried on, at that time, the military adventures of the newborn Angrian world. A secret marriage is described, that of the Duke of Fidena who falls for a girl of a social class far inferior to his own.

       If with The Secret the reader comes in contact with a weak and frightened heroine who nevertheless does not hesitate to act in contravention to her husband's orders and without his knowledge, in Henry Hastings instead there is the new heroine, stubborn and irreducible in her behaviour and ideas, the one who can cope with the temptations of love and who already anticipates the most famous and amazing character created by the pen of Charlotte Brontë, the unforgettable Jane Eyre.

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