Amelia Rosselli

Amelia Rosselli (1930–1996), often said to be one of the best Italian writers of her generation, was heavily influenced by traumatic events in her youth. When Rosselli was only seven, her father and uncle, two leaders of the anti-Fascist Resistance, were brutally assassinated by the Fascist secret service. Then, when she was seventeen, her mother died and Rosselli suffered her first nervous breakdown. The deaths of her parents left her with lifelong paranoia, depression and what she called an emotional void. Born into exile, she grew up between France, England, and the United States before returning to Italy in 1946. She studied music, composition, as well as ethnomusicology and published several essays on music. Rosselli also worked as a literary translator and among the poets she translated were Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath. During her lifetime Rosselli wrote eight poetry collections, with verses in English, French, and Italian, and tried to make sense of the post-war world. She was associated with several neo-avant-garde poetry movements in the 60s and 70s. At a time when the confessional mode was quite popular, Rosselli sought objectivism in her work, and was influenced by Eugenio Montale, Cesare Pavese, and Giuseppe Ungaretti. Rosselli took her life in 1996 on the anniversary of Sylvia Plath’s suicide.

Hospital Series

Hospital Series, a bruisingly intimate colloquy with an elusive lover, is Italian poet Amelia Rosselli’s virtuoso, subversive, neo-Petrarchan sequence of poems. Rosselli wrote much of the series in the mid 1960s after being hospitalized for a mental illness she suffered from for most of her life, and whose pain shapes her language and difficult vision. These explosive poems, a furious cacophonic crescendo of semantic and syntactic accumulations deeply admired by Pier Paolo Pasolini, place Rosselli among the greatest writers of her generation.…
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Amelia Rosselli is one of the Italian poets of the last century who pushed herself most forcefully, most painfully and most imprudently beyond the limits destiny had set for her

—Elena Ferrante, The New York Times

What Rosselli expresses in these texts – so skillfully transferred by Antagonini et al – is an often-wrenching cri de coeur situating a continuum of affectivity. Rosselli and her translators seem engaged in a “union/ of two souls one tarantella,” and these English-language versions move across vistas of love and despair and hope and insanity, in a dance toward newer orders of weird reckoning.

—Dan Disney, Shearsman

A luxuriant, floral oasis at the margins of dominion.

—Pier Paolo Pasolini
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