Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Words Words Words

A little while back I wondered whether I should invest in Alberto Asor Rosa's Letteratura italiana (Einaudi) and in the end I did. It is a real mine of wonderful material and I have not been disappointed with it at all. It comprises 18 volumes, 6 tomes in 7 vols [I. Il letterato e le Istituzioni; II. Produzione e consumo; III. Le forme del tempo, part 1: Teoria e poesia and part 2, La prosa; IV. L'interpretazione; V. Le questioni; VI. Teatro, musica, tradizioni dei classici] plus 4 of 'Storia e geografia' [I. L'Età medievale, II. L'età moderna., parts 1 and 2; III. L'età contemporanea], plus 2 vols of dictionary and index, and then 5 of 'Le Opere'. [I. Dalle Origini al Cinquecento; II. Dal Cinquecento all'Ottocento; III. L'Ottocento e il Novecento; IV. Il Novecento, parts 1 and 2].

I have also made another significant addition to the library, also pictured here. Salvatore Battaglia, Il Grande Dizionario della Lingua Italiana was begun in 1961 at the Unione tipografico-editrice torinese and in 2002 was finished with the publication of volume 21, Toi-Z. I have been looking up the definition of the word bankrupt and I think I recognize it.

This completes a mammoth task of lexical work, comprising a total of 22, 504 pages, 183, 594 words drawn from 14, 061 works of 6, 077 authors. You hear it said that the dictionary is bigger than the OED (in 20 volumes, with a mere 21, 730 words), though with the online updates it is less easy to be so sure. I am already using this pretty much daily and it is just a marvellous thing.

Two volumes of supplements - which I don't yet have - have been published, in 2004 and 2009, edited by the great Edoardo Sanguineti.

Yesterday, Sanguineti sadly passed away. It is the end of an era of Italian poetry. A great man is gone.


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