Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Allegrezza Ficcione, Part 27 - A Postscript

The Ministry of the Interior today announced the death of Umberto Allegrezza, the Italian scholar who has lived in Uzbekistan for the past four years & is well-known for his translations of Alisher Navoi & other historic Central Asian poets.

He was killed six days ago by an avalanche whilst on a climbing expedition in the Pamirs, but his death has only just been reported with the return of his climbing companions.

His body could not be recovered.
The Tashkent Daily Record, April 4, 2001.

A reminder of the tragic death in a climbing accident of the late Umberto Allegrezza, the Italian scholar who resided near Bukhara for a number of years, has come about with the publication in a Finnish literary journal of five poems, purported to be translations by Allegrezza of Phoenician writers.

Nils Pedersen, a Danish systems analyst, claims to have been given a notebook containing the poems by Allegrezza in a backpackers' café in Termez. "It was a strange gift, but I thought it was nothing special at the time," said Pedersen. "Then a week or so later I saw a report of the tragic accident on State TV & wondered if he'd had a premonition of his imminent death. I decided to keep the notebook until I returned to Oslo & see if I could get the poems published. I have just arrived back here after five years abroad."

Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, the editor of the magazine xStream in which the poems appeared, said "I have seen the notebook. It has on the first page the inscription 'Translations from the Phoenician, #3 , Umberto Allegrezza, Bukhara 2001' with five poems on the next recto pages. The hand-writing on all these pages has been verified as that of Umberto Allegrezza. I believe in the poems' provenance."

Allegrezza is remembered for his translations of Alisher Navoi, Rudaki & other known & unknown historical Central Asian poets, but is probably best known for his co-discovery, with the late Professor Alexei Vershenko, of what is now considered to be, albeit prototypical, the earliest recorded ghazal, which they found amongst early manuscripts in the UAS Institute of Oriental Studies in Tashkent.

Professor Vershenko's grand-daughter, Dr Kamilla Patel, speaking from the family farm, commented "I have not seen the poems but I believe them to be spurious. Someone is taking advantage of Doctor Allegrezza's good reputation. Besides, it is a well-established fact that apart from some inscriptions on monuments, there is no writing from the Phoenicians still in existence. If there were manuscripts they would have been discovered by now, & definitely not in Uzbekistan."
The Tashkent Daily Record, December 7, 2004
Previous Part

No comments: