Professor James Schwarten Translates Essay and Play by Dacia Maraini

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JCU Italian Studies Professor James Schwarten translated an essay and a one-act play from Dacia Maraini’s Sulla Mafia: Piccole Riflessioni Personali (On Mafia: Small Personal Thoughts). The essay, titled “Sulla Mafia” (On Mafia), offers a glimpse into Maraini’s personal struggle not only to understand the rules and values of the Mafia, but also to consider how the state and individuals have struggled against organized crime. The play, a monologue titled A piedi nudi (Mafia), has two levels of interpretation. On the surface, Maraini’s monologue tells the story of one mother’s attempt to cope with the death of her son; however, it also conceals subtle complexities: the mother’s language seems to reflect her own internalization of Mafia values.

Dacia Maraini is a renowned author and playwright. A long-time friend of the University, she was awarded an honorary degree at the 2015 commencement ceremony. Ms. Maraini herself asked Professor Schwarten to translate the two pieces, in order to have them open the volume Sulla Mafia.

Professor Schwarten’s research interests are in Italian language and literature, translation, and sociology. He translated Extravagance and Three Other Plays by Dacia Maraini, published by John Cabot University Press in 2015.