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The Fanes' Saga - Researches on the legend

Wolff's text in German and in its Italian translations: a comparison


While reading Veronica Irsara’s charming graduation dissertation, I noticed to some dismay the remark that there is at least one passage in Wolff’s Ladinian legends, and just in the “Fanes’ Kingdom”, where Clara Ciraolo’s translation into Italian, edited by Cappelli, doesn’t coincide at all with its German original.

Before realizing that, I had been satisfied reading Wolff in the traditional Italian translation, trusting its adherence to the original for not being compelled painfully to read the South-tyrolian writer in a language I don’t really master and can translate only piece by piece and with the help of a dictionary.

At this point, however, for a sheer matter of intellectual honesty, I couldn’t but retrieve Wolff’s latest issue in German, the “Dolomitensagen” published by Athesia, Bolzano 2003 (reprinted from the sixteenth issue by Tyrolia, Innsbruck 1989).

Later on, I also got suspicious that, over time, some modifications may also have occurred to the Italian text, and for this reason I also purchased the latest editions of I monti pallidi [Pale Mountains] and L'Anima delle Dolomiti [The Dolomites' Soul]. I quickly assured myself on this latter point: the Italian text wasn't even slightly modified from the first issues predating WWII to the latest (fifteenth, dated 1987; several reprints followed). After Wolff's death, a short biography of him has only been added, edited by Rosetta Infelise Fronza, together with a sketched map of the Dolomites.

For the Italian translations, I’m making reference therefore to:
a) I monti pallidi, Cappelli 1987, transl. by Clara Ciraolo;
b) L’anima delle Dolomiti, Cappelli 1987, transl. by Clara Ciraolo except for the last three legends, translated by Gladys P. Marchesi and Luigi de Lisa;
c) Rododendri bianchi delle Dolomiti, Cappelli 1987, transl. by Rosetta Infelise Fronza and Ersilia Baroldi Calderara.

I’ve then begun my slow procedure of verification, translation and comparation of both texts, Italian and German. It’s my intention to make the results appear on this site, as long as they come available. As a first contribution, here is a comparison between the abstracts of both:

1. The German text begins with Wolff’s Prefaces to his first (1913), eighth (1944), ninth (1956) and eleventh-twelfth (1966) issue of the Dolomitensagen, totally missing in the Italian volumes, which only show a few introductory remarks by Italian writers;
2. Fourty-seven legends ensue, plus the “Gleanings”; they correspond, generally speaking, to those present in the Italian versions; I’m not meaning that the texts are exactly comparable, since I actually found, glimpsing here and there, at least a few points where they show to be different. Among the most important ones, it seems to me that King Laurin’s tale has been quite differently organized. Moreover, strangely enough, the legend published in “L’anima delle Dolomiti” under the title “The roses of remembrance”, related to a hill in the Fassa valley named “Roseàl”, is completely missing from the German version. I can’t explain, for now at least, why Wolff (or his editors) liked better having it removed. I’ll be grateful to anyone who is able to tell me.
3. We have later the “Fanes’ Kingdom”, preceded by as many as two prefaces written by the Author, and, quite correctly, by the myth about the “Croda Rossa”. At the end there is a short final note, again by the Author himself, that may include some remarks which also appeared in the Italian version. Scattered here and there in the text, we can read several verses from Staudacher’s “Fanneslied”, no trace of which can obviously be found within “L’Anima delle Dolomiti”.
4. After the “Fanes’ Kingdom”, thence having gone through the whole text as it appeared in Italian, the Tyrolia-Athesia edition shows about three-hundred (!) pages more of tales that, as far as I know, have never been translated into Dante’s language (again, I’ll be grateful to anyone who should prove me wrong). They are concerned with several topics, partly foreign to the Dolomites (the Adige narrows north of Verona and Theodoric’s myth, a few stories about the lake of Garda, several middle-ages tales of Germanic environment, a long story located in the ancient Sillivena (!), etc.). I’m going to read and translate them, and to report here what are they really about, with my critical notes.
5. The work is concluded by Wolff’s biography, his fundamental bibliography and some obituaries and remarks on his work.

I think worthwhile adding here that, in the book titled “Il Regno dei Fanes” [The Fanes’ Kingdom], edited by Cappelli in 1951, that almost fully corresponds to the later “L’anima delle Dolomiti”, but where the “Croda Rossa” is missing, we can read on the contrary of a legend named “Il messo del Duca” [The Duke’s Messenger], undertitled “Un episodio della guerra civile atesina del XV secolo” [An episode from the South-Tirol XV-century civil war], which has been omitted both from the following Italian issues and from the German 1989 one. Politically incorrect?

These are my translation and comparison works available on this site until now: