The poetic voice of Immanuel of Rome, a Jewish contemporary of Dante, reappears after 700 years in a staged reading of his sonnets by
The poetic voice of Immanuel of Rome, a Jewish contemporary of Dante, reappears after 700 years in a staged reading of his sonnets by acclaimed actor Ronald Guttman with literary scholar Fabrizio Lelli. The occasion is the publication of Immanuel’s Hebrew Sonnets translated into English by Yehudah Cohn, (CPL Editions, 2023). The program is free and open to the public. Make your reservation.
On the occasion of the publication of the volume Mine is the Golden Tongue. The Hebrew Sonnets of Immanuel of Rome. Translated by Yehudah Cohn, CPL Editions, 2023. Presented in partnership with Centro Primo Levi New York, the Jewish Museum of Rome and Casa Italiano Zerilli-Marimo NYU.
A poet, biblical commentator, and satirist, Immanuel ben Shelomò or Manoello Giudeo, was a contemporary of Dante, who, recounting his ultramundane flight through Hell and Paradise in Hebrew, tied his name forever to that of the Florentine poet. In his most renowned book Machbarot (tales), written in Hebrew, he combines the Arabic genre of the maqāma with the sonnet that —from Giacomo da Lentini and Dante and later Shakespeare— became one of the most beloved poetic forms in Western culture.
He lived in Rome during the turbulent period following the communal experience, during which the popes were mostly absent. His mark on the Roman siddur suggests he was an active member of the local Jewish community, one that left no other trace but an extraordinary abundance of Hebrew manuscripts, translations, commentaries, philosophical and literary works.
Immanuel’s writings and life have fascinated scholars for over six centuries, making him one of the most studied Hebrew writers in history; yet, in the world of mass culture, he has remained practically unknown. His most published and studied book, the Mahbarot, a collection of satirical tales written in Hebrew foreshadowing Boccaccio’s Decameron, has never been translated as a whole. Scholars’ widely diverging readings of his work have cast mystery on his persona and the world surrounding him. Centro Primo Levi’s publication makes all of Immanuel’s Hebrew sonnets available in English for the first time.