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This review is taken from PN Review 24, Volume 8 Number 4, March - April 1982.

THE FUTURISTS DEFUSED The Blue Moustache, Some Italian Futurist Poets, translated by Felix Stefanile (Carcanet New Press) £2.95

'Nous chanterons . . . les ressacs multicolores et polyphoniques des revolutions dans les capitales modernes' (Manifeste du Futurisme). Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, polemicist and poet, spotlighted Futurism on 20 February 1909, after engineering a manifesto and persuading Le Figaro to print the assault on its front page. The aggressive mechanism, which included poets, painters, musicians, carried out its intentions in the following years, developing forms which could hold varied dynamisms and give shape to revolution and modernity. The Futurists eventually produced concrete poems of some importance. None finds its way, however, into the twenty-five poems in The Blue Moustache. Though Professor Stefanile selects poems with a range of tones and translates the forces within, he prefers to represent the Futurists' achievements rather than their extremism. (Auro D'Alba's 'Brush Strokes' and Aldo Palazzeschi's 'So Let Me Have My Fun' are minor concessions). The result is a pavonian anthology, much colour, some shrieks, and a work which demonstrates how excellent the Futurists were instead of how anarchic.

Marinetti was the animator of Futurism. He was not, however, its finest poet. Professor Stefanile makes this point in his introduction; and emphasizes it by restricting the Marinetti section to a truncated version of 'The Futurist Aviator Speaks to His Father, Vulcan'. (The poem is doctrinal, celebrating l'amour du danger, l'habitude de I'énergie et de la témerité). With this approach, the anthology is able to give time and space to poets who are relatively unknown, notably, Corrado Govoni and Paolo Buzzi. Govoni's ...


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