For a good long stretch, I had been chipping away at Leopardi’s Zibaldone, a few lines here, a paragraph there, careful not to wrinkle the bible-thin pages. Since it is made to lie flat, I had been keeping the book open here on my mother’s desk. But the time came recently that I needed the space to accommodate more books: a complete six-volume set of Imaginary Conversations by Walter Savage Landor. And so I closed the Zibaldone for now and, because the spine is red, I tucked it into the little shelf section of an ancient red bench that once belonged to my mother’s grandfather, Lars. It has a shelf mate: Finnegans Wake, by James Joyce, which, if I am not dreaming, I have read from beginning to end, despite it having neither. But I will return to Leopardi by and by, even though, as much as I enjoy notebooks and journals, this particular one I do not find all that inspiring. And yet I expect that will change. For now I am glad beyond measure that it exists, and that it has been translated into English, and especially that the Latin and French passages have been preserved with their corresponding translations, which is one reason I got the book. Another reason is that it contains 2,678 pages and seems impossible to finish.
[ 2 ]