Butterfly of Dinard

Eugenio Montale


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The New York Review of Books, Inc
14 May 2024
ISBN: 9781681378169
224 pages

From the publisher

Translated from the Italian by Oonagh Stransky and Marla Moffa, introduction by Jonathan Galassi

The great poet Eugenio Montale was also a remarkable writer of prose whose stories appeared regularly in the Italian newspaper Corriere della SeraButterfly of Dinard is a collection of fifty of those stories, pieces about “silly and trivial things which are at the same time important,” whose sprightliness, subtle irony, and conversational ease defy the limits of traditional fiction. Taken together, they form a sort of autobiographical novel, evoking people, objects, and animals dear to the poet, while simultaneously shedding light on the social, cultural, and political events of the day. The book begins with Montale’s childhood in Liguria and goes on to explore his adult life in pre-Fascist Florence and the onset of Fascism. The last part of the book, focusing on his final years in Milan, forms what Jonathan Galassi in his introduction calls “a mosaic self-portrait of the writer himself, a bumbling yet proud, memory-obsessed Chaplinesque antihero, who sees himself as the only surviving, if unwilling, witness to a disappearing world.”

The stories were first published in book form in 1956; Montale added further stories to subsequent editions, culminating in the final 1973 edition. Butterfly of Dinard is the first complete translation of this edition and includes five stories never before translated into English.