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Abba Abba
Anthony Burgess
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Abba Abba

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  136 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Abba Abba is about two poets who may or may not have met in Rome in 1820-1821. One was John Keats, who was dying in a house on the Spanish Steps. The other was Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli a great poet, though little known outside Rome. The first part of the book is about Keats and Belli. The second part presents Belli himself as poet, translated by Mr. Burgess.
Published February 23rd 1987 by Faber and Faber (first published 1977)
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(showing 1-30 of 297)
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Aug 08, 2014 Marina marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Future Marina: at least chekc it out! from David Lodge's
I couldn't bring myself to get through all of Belli's poems (the second half of the book). But the first half was so interesting. I love Keats, so I really enjoyed reading about him as a character (even though it was as he was dying). And his discussions about God and religion and poetry and writing were a really interesting read. Anthony Burgess, what a cool guy.
I love Keats but it was hard to get into this book. The idea is completely conjectural, of his final days dying in Rome, and so speculative. Likewise, the second half of the book purported to be the Belli translations, were not so interesting, they pretend to a paraphrasing of the Bible for a more vulgar society, but seem more meant to shock than Keats, himself somewhat someone of more discretion, might have said as to any of it. I see Keats as a more ethereal being, after all, and I felt that t ...more
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Anthony Peter
I didn't know what to make of this, but I enjoyed the linguistic richness and playfulness.

Dying Keats meets foul-mouthed and blasphemous Popish censor and Roman sonneteer, Giuseppe Belli. So what? Burgess' translations of Belli's sonnets are amusingly inventive.

Or is Belli just a fiction? I don't know. It was a bit beyond me, so any illumination will be welcome.
Short and enjoyable for humour and obvious wit, the novel part, despite my utter lack of knowledge of the poets in question and their work. I am probably not Burgess' intended reader and like others before me I did find the second part required several sittings to take in and enjoy.
This a two-part novella. The first tells of a last days of John Keats in Rome, centered around a fictitious meeting with the Roman dialect poet Belli. The second part, more of an appendix, is a set of Belli’s poems, with the framing device of an introduction by the supposed translator Wilson. It is filled with enormously witty wordplay, deep references to the form and history of the sonnet, and that period in Romantic literature. Most of them went well above my head but I still caught enough to ...more
The premise is genius. This story supposes the end of John keats young life and his chance meetings with of all people, Pauline Bonaparte and an erotic Italian poet.

Burgess' imitations of the poetry collaborated between Keats and the Italian are funny and cheeky. It's worth visiting the wikipedia entery for him which goes into detail on his prolific writing in critical essays, translations, journalism and two children's books which I have read and are whimsical. [
Al Maki
Brings Keat's death to life?? Well, it does actually. It also introduced me to another sonnet writer who's also worth reading: Giuseppe Gioachino Belli.
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Anthony Burgess was a British novelist, critic and composer. He was also a librettist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, travel writer, broadcaster, translator, linguist and educationalist. Born in Manchester, he lived for long periods in Southeast Asia, the USA and Mediterranean Europe as well as in England. His fiction includes the Malayan trilogy (The Long Day Wanes) on the dying days o ...more
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