Global Masterpieces and Italian Dialects

Shakespeare in Neapolitan and vicentino

In: Journal of World Literature
Elisa Segnini University of Glasgow

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This essay suggests that the ultraminor can function as a paradigm to examine literature that emphasizes the minority status of the language in which it is composed. Engaging with Deleuze and Guattari’s definition of minor literature and with Pascale Casanova and Lawrence Venuti’s reflections on the role of translation in the shaping of world literature, it develops a comparison between two rewritings of Shakespeare into Italian dialects: Eduardo De Filippo’s translation of The Tempest into Neapolitan and Luigi Meneghello’s translation of Hamlet into vicentino. The essay underlines how these endeavors represent translations into languages that, at the time of writing, are considered by their authors in decline and doomed to extinction, and argues that both authors use translation to emphasize the historical memory of their native idioms. Both De Filippo and Meneghello, in fact, set out to challenge the subordinate status of Neapolitan and vicentino by proving that dialects are apt to express great thought as well as philosophical, abstract, and theoretical concepts.

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