On this day…19 February

On 19 February 1933 Amalia Risolo requested permission to translate stories from Dubliners.

Even before February 1933, Amalia Risolo (nee Popper) had been publishing translations of stories from Dubliners. Her translation of ‘A Little Cloud’ (under the title ‘Una Nuvoletta’) appeared on 10 October 1929 in Il Piccolo della Sera, the newspaper formerly edited by Roberto Prezioso, in which Joyce had published articles in Italian before the war. Il Popolo di Trieste published her translations of ‘The Dead’ in September and October 1931, and of ‘Eveline’ in November 1931. Each of these translations appeared with by-line claiming that they were ‘authorised’ translations.

When she wrote to Joyce in February 1933, she requested permission to translate another two stories, ‘Counterparts’ and ‘Araby,’ and to publish all five translations in a single volume to be called Araby. Joyce gave his permission, and when Araby was published (by C. Moscheni in Trieste in 1935) it also contained an ‘Essential Biography,’ in which Joyce himself seems to have had a hand.

Apart from ‘Eveline,’ these stories were all written when Joyce was living in Trieste and it must have pleased him to have one of his former students as a translator. Amalia Popper (1891-1967) was the daughter of Jewish parents: her mother, Letitzia, was a painter from Venice and her father, Leopold, was a Bohemian businessman, a partner in a shipping company in Trieste. Joyce started giving Amalia Popper private tuition in English in 1907 or 1908, but it only lasted about a year, until she started studying at the University of Florence.

According to Richard Ellmann, Amalia Popper served as one of the models for Molly Bloom, and she was also, at least partly, the model for the mysterious woman in Giacomo Joyce. Ellmann later tried to interview Amalia but was denied access by her husband Michele Risolo who strenuously denied that she was the woman referred to in Giacomo Joyce.

Joyce had made an attempt at translating his own story ‘Ivy Day in the Committee  Room’ with another Triestine student of his, Nicolò Vidacovich, but he didn’t like the result.


Sources & Further Reading:

Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce – New and Revised Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Joyce, James: Giacomo Joyce, with Introduction and Notes by Richard Ellmann, New York: Viking Press, 1968.

Lernout, Geert, & Wim van Mierlo (eds): The Reception of James Joyce in Europe, London: Continuum, 2009.

McCourt, John: The Years of Bloom – James Joyce in Trieste, 1904-1920, Dublin: Lilliput Press, 2001.