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Il corpo umano - The human body
di: Paolo Giordano / editore: Mondadori - Pamela Dorman Books
traduttore: Anne Milano Appel - Traduzione dall'italiano all'inglese

 
Indice dell'articolo
pag. 1 Nota del Traduttore - Traduzione dall'italiano in inglese di Anne Milano Appel
pag. 2 Nota del Traduttore - articolo di Anne Milano Appel in italiano

 
Nota del Traduttore - Traduzione dall'italiano in inglese di Anne Milano Appel

The last line in a review of The Human Body in Kirkus sums up Paolo Giordano’s second novel in these words: “Well-observed and compassionate, this is a memorable look at imperfect people in extreme circumstances.”  To me this suggests both an affinity and a counterpoint to The Solitude of Prime Numbers, Giordano’s first novel that won him the prestigious Premio Strega.  Originally trained as a physicist, Giordano is the youngest writer to win Italy’s impressive literary award, and his first book is said to have sold more than a million copies worldwide.
In a way both books deal with “imperfect people,” the earlier one in less extreme, one might even say ordinary, surroundings, The Human Body in a more extreme, severe setting. The similarity lies in the compassionate eye trained on them. If it’s true that novels can be plot driven, language driven or character driven, The Human Body clearly falls into the latter category: one of those narratives where you encounter unforgettable individuals, haunting figures who linger in your head long after you’ve finished reading the book. It’s not just that the characters are substantially drawn, it’s that they’re human, they’re people we know, imperfect, even damaged, people.
Another reviewer wrote: “The Human Body by Paolo Giordano is a darkly comic novel inspired by the author’s two ten-day tours in Afghanistan as an embedded journalist reporting on the most recent Afghani conflict. […The novel] gives a different perspective to war that is strangely refreshing.”  Indeed Giordano sees into his characters with clarity and compassion, yet not without a certain humor, as he records their foibles and shortcomings, their absurdity and humanity, registering their craving for affection and their capacity for decency as well as fear and despair.
One of the affinities between The Solitude of Prime Numbers and The Human Body relates to the inability of the characters to connect. Despite their best intentions and their longing for warmth and human companionship, for closeness and camaraderie, these individuals seem to glance off one another, in a kind of “go away closer” dance.  They approach, then retreat, move towards one another, then rebound, come close to connecting then ricochet.  It is the classic “double bind” in which an individual sends or receives conflicting messages. The result is a failure of communication and an emotionally distressing situation in which successful relationships are unlikely. There is a disconnect which leaves these characters – Senior Corporal-Major Cederna and his girlfriend Agnese, First Corporal-Major Torsu and Tersicore89, Marshal René and Rosanna Vitale, Lieutenant Egitto and Irene Sammartino, Corporal-Major Ietri and Corporal-Major Zampieri – circling in their separate orbits, solitary, detached, isolated.
There is a lot of dialogue in The Human Body, including a lengthy stream-of-consciousness monologue by Francesco Cederna, which serves to further define the characters, deepening the reader’s acquaintance with them.  The challenge was to turn the soldiers’ words into an English discourse that would seem to flow naturally from the their mouths and that would express their personalities.  Most of this process was instinctive in that I did not consciously think about how this or that individual should sound as I was translating. I had formed a more or less clear  idea of what made each of the characters tick and I followed the voices in my head as I tried to channel them, as it were, into their new language. 
In the end The Human Body deftly captures the sense of loss and tenderness, fear and longing, experienced by its characters and evokes those same feelings in us as readers.

Anne Milano Appel
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