Question: Can you give us more details about the embassy’s activities in commemoration of the great Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s death anniversary?
Italian Ambassador to Vietnam Antonio Alessandro: We have coordinated with the Voice of Vietnam to organise a poetry programme in May to honour Dante Alighieri, who wrote of one of the most renowned works of world literature ‘The Divine Comedy’.
Previously, we hosted a digital exhibition entitled ‘Inferno V’ in Hanoi from late March to early April, displaying a variety of images, videos and narrations which provide visitors with an intense experience of ‘The Divine Comedy’.
This October, in celebration of the Week of the Italian Language in the World, celebrated in the third week of October, we will collaborate with the Social Sciences Publishing House to re-print the Vietnamese version of ‘The Divine Comedy’, translated by Prof. Nguyen Van Hoan. We have also contacted the Hanoi University Faculty of Italian Language and the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Literature to publish articles on Dante Alighieri's works in Vietnamese.
The organisation of these events has received much support from Italians living in Vietnam and many Italian corporations operating in the country.
Prof. Nguyen Van Hoan's translation of ‘The Devine Comedy’, first introduced in 2009 by the Italian Embassy in Vietnam, has been appreciated as the most complete, accurate and elaborate translation of the Italian work so far. Previously, parts of ‘The Divine Comedy’ were translated into Vietnamese by Professor Le Tri Vien and poet Khuong Huu Dung. What do you think about these translation projects?
I am very impressed with the efforts and profound understanding of the three Vietnamese translators. The translation of ‘The Divine Comedy’ not only requires translators to acquire fluency in the Italian language but also a profound knowledge of Italian culture so they can fully translate the “voice”, verse and content of the work into Vietnamese. I am grateful for their efforts, which have contributed both to our country and to Vietnam.
In this reissue of the Vietnamese version of ‘The Divine Comedy’, translated by Professor Nguyen Van Hoan, we plan to include an article on what motivated the three translators to introduce an Italian work to Vietnamese readers as well as the differences in their translation styles.
Leaders of the Dante Alighieri Society, a society founded in 1889 to collect Dante's legacies and promote the Italian language around the world, met with Prof. Nguyen Van Hoan. During his lifetime, the Vietnamese professor also had business trips to Italy. In 2002, he was awarded the Italian Order of Merit in recognition of his contributions to promoting and increasing the influence of Dante in Asia.
I also want to convey my thanks for the support of the Dean of the Italian Language Faculty under the Hanoi University Tran Thanh Quyet, also Director of the Dante Alighieri Society in Vietnam.
An work on display at the digital exhibition entitled ‘Inferno V’ in Hanoi from late March to early April to mark the 700th anniversary of the death of the great Italian poet Dante Alighieri. (Photo: VNA)
What is the Vietnamese literary work that impresses you the most?
Vietnamese literary works help me understand more about Vietnam, thus facilitating my diplomatic mission. Although I cannot speak Vietnamese, I always find ways to update myself on Vietnamese literary works both from the past and present. I am curious about the process of converting old works from the Nom to Latin scripts. The Vietnamese literary work I am most impressed with is ‘The Tale of Kieu’ by the great poet Nguyen Du.
Can you tell us about your plans to promote literary cooperation between Vietnam and Italy?
The Embassy is promoting the translation of Italian literary works into Vietnamese by cooperating with several translators and publishers. The latest Italian work translated into Vietnamese was ‘The Search for Identity’ by Italian writer Luigi Pirandello.
We have also promoted Vietnamese literature in Italy. Most recently, we supported the publication of the Italian version of ‘An So’ (The Unknown), a poetry collection by Vietnamese poet-writer Kieu Bich Hau, as translated by Laura Garavaglia.
I think that to understand the languages of both countries is needed to boost bilateral cooperation in literature. In Vietnam, there are two faculties teaching the Italian, at Hanoi University and the Vietnam National University - Ho Chi Minh City's University of Social Sciences and Humanities.
In Italy, we have Vietnamese language courses at Orientale University in Naples and Ca' Foscari in Venice. We also have the Centre for Vietnamese Studies in Turin, headed by Sandra Scagliotti.
I hope that through practical activities, we can help the people of the two countries have a better understanding about the wonderful literary heritages of Vietnam and Italy.
Thank you very much for your sharing!