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Deft, subtle, sympathetic, and full of the small bursts of something like electricity that characterize the sonnet as Petrarch developed it. Slavitt's translations of the madrigals and ballate ring delicate changes on the basic pattern. -- Henry Taylor Slavitt gives us a swifter, and perhaps less encumbered, Petrarch than we are used to reading. This collection can indeed be read through in a sitting, as Slavitt invites the reader to do. There are many fine moments throughout that catch perfectly the sense and feeling of the original. -- Dennis Looney, University of Pittsburgh
David R. Slavitt is a poet and the translator of more than ninety works of fiction, poetry, and drama.
Slavitt's impressive achievement in these interpretations, which include almost all the poems in the "Songbook," is to pare down the music of the sonnets in order to make their intellectual core more visible...The result is to highlight Petrarch's endless inventiveness of thought. -- Adam Kirsch Barnes and Noble Review 20120517 Slavitt's swashbuckling style suits Petrarch's "amazing acuity with the glances of sonnets" reasonably well; Slavitt's versions are self-confident, lively, intelligent, and unafraid of anachronism. The technical liberties Slavitt takes with the strict but almost infinitely flexible constraints of Petrarchan form are, as his preface implies, no more than the price one must pay if the attempt to render Petrarch in English is to be made at all. Lovers of poetry--especially those who already know the Canzoniere in Italian or another English translation--will enjoy refereeing the encounter between Slavitt and Petrarch. -- S. Botterill Choice 20120701