– THE ANNUAL CHARLES DE CHASSIRON MEMORIAL LECTURE –
Is Italian truly the most beautiful language in the world? Once the language of philosophy and poetry, up to the point that John Milton could sing “questa è lingua di cui si vanta Amore” (“this is the language of which Love makes his boast”), in the late twentieth century Italian was certainly the language of football and fashion; but is this still the case? Cuisine and mafia are undoubtedly the leading fields of Italian primacy worldwide, to the extent that English has easily incorporated their vocabulary, from pasta and pizza to pistol and vendetta, but is there anything more? Stefano Jossa’s argues that the beauty of Italian is still there, but is far more complicated than expected.
Stefano Jossa is Reader in Italian at Royal Holloway College, University of London. He specialises in the Italian Renaissance and the Italian national identity expressed through literature. He is the author of L’Italia Letteraria (Il Mulino, 2006), Ariosto (il Mulino, 2009) and Un Paese Senza Eroi: L’Italia da Jacopo Ortis a Montalbano (Laterza, 2013). He has also edited and co-authored the following books: with Claudia Boscolo, Scritture di Resistenza. Sguardi Politici dalla Narrativa Italiana Contemporanea (Carocci, 2014); with Giuliana Pieri, Chivalry, Academy, and Cultural Dialogues: The Italian Contribution to European Modernity (Legenda, 2016); and, with Jane E. Everson e Andrew Hiscock, Ariosto, the Orlando Furioso and English Culture (Oxford, 2019). He held the De Sanctis Chair at the Polytechnic (ETH) of Zurich and was Visiting Professor at the University of Parma and Roma Tre. He is also a contributor to the Italian daily newspapers il Manifesto and la Repubblica. His most recent book, from which the theme for this talk is taken, is La Più Bella del Mondo: Perché Amare la Lingua Italiana (Einaudi, 2018)