Founded in 1958 in New York, the literary magazine Chelsea started showing an interest in Italian culture and its dissemination in the US from 1960, when Alfredo De Palchi and his wife Sonia Raiziss joined its editorial staff (first as co-editors, from 1966 as the main curators).
Italian literature opened the sixth issue (winter 1960) with Guido Lopez’s “Trumpet Rhapsody”, translated by Raiziss and De Palchi. In the same number, Glauco Cambon pays homage to Salvatore Quasimodo, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1959. From the seventh to the fourteenth issue, Chelsea published a few texts in prose (short stories by Dino Buzzati, Italo Calvino and Corrado Alvaro) and several poems, signed, for example, by Rocco Scotellaro, Alfonso Gatto, Leonardo Sinisgalli, Umberto Saba, Eugenio Montale, and Cesare Pavese. Occasionally, brief notes or a short biography complete the texts, and, in some occurrences, poems appear with parallel texts in Italian (such is the case for Montale, Quasimodo and de Palchi’s verses). Raiziss and De Palchi authored many of the translations in Chelsea, but they also counted on the collaboration of Ursule Molinaro, Lynne Lawner, Margo and Anthony Viscusi, Charles Guenther and Charles Wright.
The 18/19 issue, published in June 1966, was a special number devoted to “New Italian Writing”, with a focus on Gruppo ’63. It opens with a foreword by Cambon, and it introduces short stories by Piergiorgio Bellocchio, Paolo Carra, Sergio Quartesan, Ugo Carrega, Massimo Ferretti, and Umberto Eco to the American readership. Poetry occupies most of its pages, and names such as Vittorio Sereni, Nelo Risi, Franco Fortini, Giorgio Cesarano, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bartolo Cattafi, and Andrea Zanzotto appear. Two plays by Alberto Gozzi and Gaetano Testa are also included, before the section “Visual Poetry” (the only one in Italian), made possible thanks to the contributions of many authors, i.e Nanni Balestrini, Alfredo Giuliani and Toti Scialoja. The volume closes with some essays on the state of the arts in Italy, which explore the poetic, musical, linguistic, and theatrical field.
The effort put in the creation of Chelsea - “one of the most durable and exciting literary periodicals in America” for the international arena as defined by Luigi Fontanella - culminated in the input given to several anthologies, for instance Selected Poems of Eugenio Montale, published by New Directions in 1965, and Modern European Poetry (Bantam Books, 1966), whose Italian section was curated by De Palchi and Raiziss.
Arnoldo Mondadori Editore
Italian scholar, novelist and intellectual
Pier Paolo Pasolini
Writer, director, actor, painter
Writer, translator, literary critic
Barnstone, Willis. Modern European Poetry. New York: Bantam Books, 1966.
De Palchi, Alfredo e Sonia Raiziss eds. Chelsea VI - XIX. New York: Chelsea Foundation Inc. 1960-1966.
Fontanella, Luigi. Alfredo de Palchi: Between Essay and Hi(s)tory, 1-28. Last accessed January 22, 2022, http://www.alfredodepalchi.com/saggi.html
Healey, Robin. Italian Literature since 1900 in English Translation: An Annotated Bibliography, 1929-2016. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019.
Raiziss, Sonia. "History". https://web.archive.org/web/20120412101542/http://www.chelseamag.org/about/history.asp