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Becoming a cosmopolitan writer. Alba De Céspedes between Italy and France

Guido Bonsaver (University of Oxford, UK)
Sabina Ciminari (Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France)
Elisa Segnini (University of Glasgow, UK)

Guido Bonsaver (Oxford University, United Kingdom), Negotiating Literary Success in Fascist Italy

Following the critical and commercial success of Nessuno torna indietro (1938), Alba De Céspedes was forced to face the political and cultural implications of her novel, suffering different types of censorship when the text was reprinted and then turned into a script for a film adaptation. Her case will be discussed as exemplary of the regime’s post-1938 restrictions on artistic creativity and as typical of the pressures which women writers were subjected to.

Sabina Ciminari (Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France), From “best-read, best-selling” author to “jeune auteur français”. Trajectories in France of Alba de Céspedes’ works

The intellectual biography of Alba de Céspedes, read through the most significant stages of her translations into French, allows us to trace the history of a reception that corresponds to the path taken from Nul ne revient sur ses pas (the translation of Nessuno torna indietro, which appeared in 1949 at Albin Michel) to La Bambolona (the last title translated into French, in 1968 at Editions du Seuil), and passes through the privileged relationships with her translators (Juliette Bertrand and Louis Bonalumi). A path that led de Céspedes to privilege her publishing and cultural life in France: her literary imagination underwent, therefore, a shift to the point that she changed her language of writing and became “un jeune auteur français” with the publication first of poems entitled Chansons des filles de mai, in 1968, then of the experimental novel Sans autre lieu que la nuit, in 1973.

Elisa Segnini (University of Glasgow, United Kingdom), Translating 1968: Alba de Céspedes, Comparisons and the Making of History

This talk focuses on Alba de Céspedes comparative method, which culminates in a collection of poems about the 1968 Parisian insurrection: Chansons des filles de mai (1968). Written in French, the poems feature comparisons which connect historical events across time and space, establishing a relationship between the 1968 Parisian insurrection, the Resistance against fascism, The Cuban Revolution of 1858 and 1959. These comparisons drive De Céspedes desire for translation, as she identifies in Italy and Cuba ideal target readerships. The self- translation of the poems into Italian involves substantial rewriting, but does not invalidate the comparative nature of the poems. However, the translation into Spanish, which involves the collaboration of a Cuban literary dissent, challenges the Cuban narrative of history and leads to author to the realization that the comparisons underpinning the poems were unidirectional, that is, valid from the European point of view only.

All are welcome to attend this free seminar which will be held online via Zoom, starting at 6pm BST (UK time). Please register to receive the zoom link, by clicking Book Now at the top of this page.

Seminar Series Convenors: Carolina Rossi (Pisa University) and Mara Travella (Zurich University)

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Becoming a cosmopolitan writer. Alba De Céspedes between Italy and France
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