Stefano Villani

This page reflects a scholar's association with the Folger Institute.

Long-term fellowship

"Seventeenth-century English Translations of Italian Books" (Mellon, 2009–2010)

My objective is to consider the history of the translations into English of Italian books as an aspect of the cultural history of the intellectual relationships between the two countries.

I intend to do a diacritical examination of what was translated into English and why. This aim is to gain a fuller understanding of the underlying cultural policy, who promoted and pursued it and, if possible, to learn more about the readership of these translations. To achieve this, it is essential to reconstruct the context in which the translations appeared. A careful survey of all English translations of Italian books would contributed significantly to building up a clearer picture of the cultural exchanges and loan between England and Italy in that century.

The research I am proposing has basically never been done for the second half of the seventeenth century. Although my research perspective is chiefly historical, I will also try to investigate translation theory and practice. For example, one of the most interesting things about seventeenth-century translations is that the translator often used to take great liberties with the original text, not only translating it into a different language, but also radically reworking it, breaking it down and combining sections in a different way. The result was often very different from the original that inspired it. This raises a number of intriguing implications, because sometimes it is difficult to understand whether a given volume is simply a translation or a work loosely inspired by another text.