Dr. Jonathan Needham received his Ph.D. from Middlebury College in 2004. He presently is on the faculty of Penn State Universith where he teaches European languages and courses on Mediterranean civilizations. He is also a poet, composing in Italian, French, and English.2013 0-7734-3057-1
The present work provides an entirely unique translation of nineteenth century Italian writer Ugo Foscolo’s universally unknown, yet aesthetically superb poem “The Graces.”
Originally written in Neoclassical Italian, Foscolo’s poem
embraces all which is “harmonious” and “beautiful”?in ancient Greek and Roman art and poetry as well as in Neoclassical
aesthetics. Those qualities mentioned above which renowned poets such as Homer, Catullus, Virgil and others have savored in their writings, and find full artistic expression in “The Graces," which, assuming the identity of a temple or a sculpture, celebrates the creation of poetry itself. It is the sweetness and the euphony of the Graces' gentle affections, welcomed into even the hearts of poets like Dante, Lord Byron, and John Keats, which placate or rather "subdue" mankind's violent, feral nature and arouse in man a love for poeticizing.
Dr. Needham’s translation in English not only retains the authentic flavor of Foscolo’s Italian poem and all that
Neoclassicalism embodies, but also includes insightful criticism concerning other English translations of the poem. There are also unique commentaries on certain verses in the text which allude to themes of sensuality and eroticism seen in the rococo works of French painters such as Fragonard and Watteau contrasted with themes of purity and modesty noted in the works of French artist Jacques-Louis David and Antonio Canova. It is precisely to this inspiring nineteenth century Italian sculptor that Ugo Foscolo dedicates his poetic opus.