Bringing Steinbeck to Italians. Vittorini translator of The Pastures of Heaven

by Silvia Guslandi

Elio Vittorini’s 1940 translation of John Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven offers the opportunity for a few comments on the work-style of this infamously “free” translator. His main objective when making choices seems to have been to simply make the original work more accessible to Italian readers. This was achieved by operating mainly on two levels. On the cultural side, he eliminated or modified any references that would have been unfamiliar to new readers; from a more technical point of view, his translation was closer to the traditional narrative style that was still prevalent in Italian fiction at that time.