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Translating Resistance: Fanon and Radical Italy, 1960-1970

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Neelam Srivastava


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Italian was the first language into which Frantz Fanon’s work was translated. Barely a few months after Les damnés was published by Maspéro in October 1961, it appeared in Italian translation in July 1962. As is well known, his books were banned in France during the Algerian war, and so Italy, because of its geographical and cultural proximity to France and its sympathy for the Algerian cause, became an important metropolitan space for the circulation of his writing and ideas. Fanon was quite attached to Italy and spent quite some there; in Rome he delivered part of his famous essay “On National Culture”, and he was also the target of a failed assassination there in 1959. This chapter examines how Fanon came to be translated into Italian, and looks at it as an example of an “activist” translation, used politically and instrumentally by a generation that wished to transform Italian society by looking to other models of revolutionary struggle in the so-called “Third World”. The activist uses of Fanon’s translation into Italian differ sharply from the more “academic” translations of his work, linked to the importation of postcolonial theory into Italy in the early 21st century. The first section of the chapter looks closely at Fanon’s relationship with the writer and activist Giovanni Pirelli, who collaborated with Fanon on an edition of his writings in anthology form, which subsequently led to the publication of Fanon’s Opere scelte [Selected Works], the only collection of Fanon’s writings (in any language) that orders his essays differently from the standard editions in which they appear. I explore how this anthology, by radically altering the arrangement of his essays, questions the more established trajectory of reading Fanon through his individual volumes. The second section discusses the substantial editorial correspondence around the translation and publication of Fanon’s work with the prestigious radical publisher Giulio Einaudi, and show the editors’ keen awareness of his importance as a thinker and revolutionary, already during Fanon’s lifetime. This correspondence includes a hitherto undiscovered letter by Fanon in which he refers to the translation of his own work into Italian. These letters are a key resource for understanding the metropolitan reception of Fanon at an important moment in European radical history, namely 1968, and its connections with Third-Worldism more generally.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Srivastava N

Editor(s): Kathryn Batchelor and Sue-Ann Harding

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Translation and Liberation: Frantz Fanon Across Continents and Languages

Year: 2017

Print publication date: 16/05/2017

Acceptance date: 15/09/2016

Publisher: Routledge

Place Published: London, UK


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 978113658738


Link to this publication