Tradurre/Tradire: The Declaration of Independence
in the Italian Context

Tiziano Bonazzi

The Declaration of Independence in Italian

The subject of translating the Declaration of Independence, which we have been asked to discuss as a litmus test for the role of the historian as mediator between cultures, is an incredibly complex one, full of ambiguity. The very etymology of the words "translator" and "mediator" points up how they have historically been carriers of paradoxical roles. "Translator" comes from the Latin for "to transport something from one place to another" while "mediator" means "to place oneself in the middle." The Journal 's questions imply that to be historian of another country or culture, much more than of one's own, it is necessary to place oneself in the middle and transport "things" -- I deliberately maintain the pregnant material content of the Latin etymologies -- from one place to another. To this end one must be sure that "finding oneself in the middle" does not mean losing contact with either one's own place of origin or one's field of research: it is true one needs to leave in order to find, but without simply standing in the middle, isolated (Italian isola, Latin insula, English "island"), without contact with either side. The historian - merchant adventurer leaving for America must construct a map depicting both the Old World and the New with himself in the middle, exactly where the Atlantic Ocean is deepest and where there is no world, where Atlantis lies hidden. During its history, historiography has taken on difficulties and ambiguities of this sort by resorting to a series of instruments culminating in the scientific method, which aims systematically to set up a research community independent of the researchers' place of origin. The scientific method, while necessary as analytical instrument and undoubtedly useful to compensate for this "finding oneself in the middle," aims at creating a new language that is common to all researchers and used exclusively for scientific communication, contradicting the very idea of mediation. Belonging to an international community with an agenda set by the internal canons of the discipline can lead the historian to view the discipline as something independent of the problems of the cultural "belongingness" of the individual historians who practice it, making the question of cultural mediation appear less important. Trying to harmonize the different factors listed here is such an arduous task as to make one think of resolving the difficulties by removing the task even if, on due consideration, it is perhaps the question of translation that can help us identify a possible solution.

However, asking a historian to speak about his role as mediator, beginning with the translation into his or her language of foreign documents, seems at first sight an ironic task; it is perhaps better to say that he is in a liminal area where he reads the documents in a language that is not his own as if it were his own, without knowing exactly what is happening to him and whether he "understands" in his own language or in the other. Furthermore, the historian's trade is not that of the translator, and it is therefore extremely unlikely that he will be scientifically aware of what it is he is doing when he translates. The conclusion is that a historian is not in a position to speak properly of himself as a translator of documents. In reality, the Journal highlights the translation of the Declaration of Independence as an ideal place that, because of its liminality, can reveal to the historian, via lexical questions, the problems connected with his role as mediator. It is therefore important to find out where and when this ideal place is best revealed. In my experience it is in the classroom that I come closest to the problems of cultural mediation and translation. It is there that I try to transport my students inside American history, where I attempt an intro-duction (to bring into) that effectuates their trans-lation (to transfer) into a historical universe that "speaks" another language. Starting off by saying something about what I do as a teacher, then, might well be the best way of approaching the task asked of me, especially since narrating is the historian's bread and butter.

I have been teaching American history for almost thirty years at the University of Bologna in the Faculty of Political Sciences. American history is taught in the "history and politics" major, one of the five offered by the faculty after the first two years of common curriculum for all students. The major is designed to teach the methods and instruments for analyzing politics and is built on the Italian tradition (of German origin) of organizing political studies around history, philosophy, and public law, with a modicum of economics and sociology. In recent decades the three traditional fields have been supplemented by American-style political science. My course is yearlong (involving sixty-six hours of classroom instruction) and is the only course on American history taught in the major. Like my colleagues who teach other non-European history fields, I must teach a course that starts from the basic facts in a subject the students know little about. At the same time, I must maintain a good degree of sophistication since my students have already taken several courses in all the fields mentioned above. I try to solve the problem by keeping in mind how much they have already done and then focusing on one particular issue in American history after giving them, in the first twenty to twenty-five hours of teaching, the ideas and / or instruments for a long-term interpretation.

As in the Faculty of Arts, where American history is also taught, the students of political sciences are offered American history as one of the historical disciplines taught as an option in the curricula. The purpose is to expose the students to a variety of national and regional histories and let them choose the ones they want, though it also reflects the fact that American history does not occupy a particularly important position in Italian historical studies. It is in fact part of a view that equates the United States with all other non-European countries and considers their histories less important than that of Europe. When, therefore, at the beginning of my course, I talk about the Declaration of Independence, I have to bear in mind that my students in all probability do not consider it an especially important subject, even though for political sciences students it is not seen as of secondary importance. In the first part of my course, ten hours are given over to a reading of the 1787 Constitution at two levels: first, at the level of political institutions, treated analytically and essentially nonhistorically, shifting back and forth between political theory and constitutional law; second, at the level of political culture, conducted this time within a historical context. It is here that I move from a reading of the Constitution to one of the Declaration of Independence that allows me to talk about the origins of the United States, the English constitutional system, and the history of political thought. The students are given English texts and Italian translations of the declaration and the Constitution; the students and I use original texts and translations interchangeably.

During the course I approach history as a series of systemic processes where the systems themselves are modified and give rise to "novelties," that is, previously nonexistent historical situations. Because I teach a course in political history, my main point of reference in the part given over to the founding of the United States is the system of modern European states at the time when an outer ring of colonial communities was created in America, not mere reproductions of the motherland but new historical offshoots that helped modify the system. What I seek to explain to the students is that we are confronted with a process of continuity-discontinuity between Europe and America where the birth of the United States is part of the transformation of the model of the modern state and the system of European states. The declaration and the Constitution are clearly key documents in such a context, even if using them means employing different techniques and tactics, the declaration being more difficult to get across. A first hurdle to clear is that the text of the declaration is not much help to me in trying to show the students the interplay between patterns of intellectual, institutional, and legal continuity between America and Europe and patterns of discontinuity. The declaration was a political act that led to the political consequence par excellence of the modern age, the birth of a state. Yet when one reads it as a document, it is the political theory in it that stands out; from this point of view it seems to be informed by a dominant European theoretical matrix. The ease of reading it and its apparent transparency create further problems. The introductory and concluding parts of the declaration are in fact very easy to understand and can be translated literally into Italian. Whoever understands a little bit of Italian and even those who know none but have the patience to compare the sentence I now quote with the original English will realize it is possible to translate it word for word and that the key words in English have the same Latin roots as the Italian ones: "Quando nel corso degli umani eventi si rende necessario a un popolo dissolvere i vincoli politici che lo avevano legato a un altro e assumere tra le potenze della terra il posto separato e uguale a cui gli danno titolo le leggi della natura e del Dio della natura, un decente rispetto per le opinioni dell'umanità richiede che esso dichiari le cause che lo costringono a tale separazione." Moreover, Italian words such as popolo, uguale, and leggi have the same wide range of meaning as their English correspondents, which allows the translation to match perfectly with the original. Far from being a help, the very ease with which the declaration can be translated turns into an obstacle to understanding since the text appears too simple, almost banal to students who have already tasted the philosophy and political thought of the great classical authors from Aristotle to the twentieth century as well as the systematic thought of Italian constitutional theory. There is a risk that the apparent easiness of the text may strengthen the stereotype of an America that is passively receptive to European ideas but able, unlike Europe, to put them into practice. This is a stereotype that is educationally damaging in that it conjures up the picture of a barrier existing between culture, thought, and political action, a stereotype that gives rise to the idea of the unreflective spontaneity of democratic political action (the myth of anti-intellectualism), and helps create a salvationist image of the United States that is in turn regularly followed by an equally magical reaction of rejection.

My first teaching task therefore is to reconstruct the complexity of the declaration by creating a distance between its immediate comprehension and its historical meaning with a view to bringing out the innovative aspects vis-à-vis the European political culture it belongs to. It is, however, also true that in order to allow the students to grasp the originality of the declaration, I cannot remove the document too far from its immediate comprehension. If on a first reading the students are disappointed because they see a text that is very simple from a theoretical point of view, it is also true they feel comfortable with it because they find expressed there ideas and values to which they are deeply attached. I feel it would be something of a mistake completely to historicize the Declaration of Independence since the false transparency of its text can be used to activate in my students concepts that form the very base of Western political discourse and to discuss the continuity-discontinuity between Europe and America starting from there. Outlined here in all its complexity is the vexed question of translating in its well-known double meaning of "to transfer" and "to betray" or, as we say in Italian, tradurre / tradire. Translating is perforce betraying the original text, but it is the only way of transmitting and delivering it to foreign readers. It may be useful to remember that the English words "to betray" and "treason" can be traced back via the Anglo-French betrair and tresun to the French trahir and the Italian tradire, which in turn derive from the Latin tradere. Tradere, meaning to deliver, is the root of the nouns "translation" and "trade" and in the Middle Ages yielded the meaning treason because in the Gospels Jesus is traditum -- delivered -- by Judas to his enemies. This is why, if the text is translated literally, its delivery to the person receiving it is a treason because it is falsely understood and the historian-translator shows himself to be a Judas; only by providing glosses and interpreting the original text (and thus becoming a Judas in its regard) can the historian make it understood and turn himself into a veritable mediator of its meaning -- an honest trader.

An honest trader must be aware of the situation in which his treason is rooted. In our case, this means being aware that the sympathetic (in David Hume's sense of "syn-pathos," "feeling with" or "feeling like" someone else) reaction that springs up between the civil pathos of the Italian students and that of the document does not have an immediate relationship with United States history. Which is the situation that applies, at least at an unreflective level, to this honest trader when as an Italian teacher I talk about the Declaration of Independence with my Italian students. We do so in two different registers at the same time, one a discourse on Western democracy, the other the history of the United States. The first of these two registers precedes the second in that for Italian political culture the real turning point in history is the French Revolution and the most complete expression of both the principle of popular sovereignty and the rights of the individual are to be found in French documents. It is no exaggeration to say that my students automatically make a kind of chronological inversion placing the French Revolution before the American, or else they see the American Revolution as a sort of dress rehearsal for the French, as a still incomplete model. In any case they see the two events as contiguous within the same pattern of historical development. They have, in other words, a political culture built around a memory constructed as a continuum in which there is little room for variation and complexity. If it is my job to create a distance between my students and the document without dampening their enthusiasm for it, such a task consists in showing that American history is one of a series of Western historical-political paths. The aim is to make the students aware of the richness of the historical experiences buried within terms that are so hackneyed as to appear almost reified, as is the case with the words that form the backbone of the declaration.

In my attempt to explain what I do when I translate-transport my students across the ocean -- taking into account the unreflective rules of interpretation they automatically apply -- I cannot help but begin with the observation that the role of United States political culture in Italy has been marginal. After World War II, at a crucial time in recent Italian history when the Constituent Assembly drew up the republican Constitution of 1948, our "founding fathers" continued to draw on the conceptual framework of the Italian public-law science and the German Staatslehre they had relied on since the late nineteenth century. Despite the dominant United States military and political presence, in their debates they paid very little attention to the federal constitution and to American constitutionalism, about which they knew precious little (in part because Italy is a civil-law and not a common-law country) and which ranked low in their professional opinion; nor did the American authorities pressure the Constituent Assembly to make use of the federal constitution. As for the declaration, that was not even mentioned in the assembly's debates, even if the opening articles of the 1948 Constitution founded the Italian republic on popular sovereignty and on political, civil, and social rights. 1Italian political and legal culture had elaborated those concepts on grounds that were European and had very little to do with the United States. Whenever the Italian founding fathers could follow their scientific tradition, American documents and constitutional theory were ignored. It was only when no precedent could be found in Europe, as in the case of the Corte Costituzionale, our supreme court, that they put the American Constitution to some use. This does not mean that in 1947 - 1948 there was no interest in or esteem for the United States. It was rather that the intelligentsia and Italian political class did not feel the need to turn to American political culture and believed the intellectual instruments their own tradition provided were enough. This remained the case for a long time even after 1948 and should therefore be considered all the more true in the period before then. It is no accident that in the more than two hundred years from 1776 to today there have been very few Italian translations of the American Constitution and even fewer of the declaration.

It is worth noting furthermore, and almost paradoxical, how the scant attention paid the declaration accompanies the uniformity of the translations, as if the transparency of the text had distanced it from, rather than brought it closer to, Italians -- as if Italian culture had become aware of the implicit betrayal constituted by the false perspicuity of the text and, in the absence of a more honest betrayal, had rejected it. For example, the difference between the translation appearing in the best-known collection of documents of early American history published after World War II and the one by the first Italian historian of the American Revolution, Carlo Botta, who wrote in the Napoleonic era, reflects the changes that had occurred in the Italian language in a century and a half. 2It does not, however, change the literalness of the translation, the musicality of the document -- which, then as today, could be rendered perfectly in high Italian style -- or the key terms, which remain identical ("people": popolo; "self-evident truths": verità evidenti; "unalienable rights": diritti inalienabili; "consent of the governed": consenso dei governati, etc.). In both translations the most significant difference between the English and Italian texts is the translation of "the laws of Nature and of Nature's God" with le leggi della natura e di Dio in Botta and legge naturale e divina in the 1961 compilation. These are two similar readings that interpret the laws of Nature's God as divine laws, replacing the theist-inspired expression used by the American document with one that reflects the principal tradition of European natural law according to which God the Omnipotent and Creator of all things cannot be reduced to a mere architect of nature. There is nothing deliberate in this move away from the original text, which can be found in almost all Italian translations of the declaration; it is a reflection, a significant one, of a prevailing traditional expression mirroring a mental habit. 3The change does not have any serious effect on the normative meaning of the translation; indeed, it could be said that if, within the prevailing and automatic interpretative patterns of Italian culture, it does change the meaning, it also ends up by reinforcing it. A more puzzling problem, at least to an American ear, is posed by the gendered term "mankind" that appears in the first and third paragraphs of the declaration. Italian translators have constantly translated it as umanità in the first paragraph, while for euphonic reasons they have wavered between umanità and uomini ("men") in the third one. While the change from umanità to uomini is clearly a mistake, and a gendered one, I do not think it objectionable to use umanità, nor do I believe that many men or women in Italy would find it such. In Italian, in fact, umanità means both mankind and benevolence, kindness, as in the English "humane." Besides that, the term has too important a political and intellectual history to be discarded. From the humanism of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to nineteenth-century socialist battles in the name of Umanità, the term has stood for freedom. An inheritance that can be improved, but that we are not supposed to forget.

Carlo Botta and his contemporaries did not have any particular linguistic or conceptual difficulties in understanding the declaration. Botta, however, does provide us with a clue that in my opinion could be useful to pursue. Always ready to insert in his text documents and long and imaginary speeches by the protagonists in line with the canons of classical historiography and protoromantic hero worship, he translates only the first and last parts of the Declaration of Independence, giving merely a brief summary of the middle part, containing the various counts of the indictment against King George III. In this way he emphasizes political philosophy over historical contextualization and introduces a way of reading the declaration that would prevail in Italy. Carlo Botta was a Piedmontese gentleman who took an active part in Piedmontese and French politics during the French Revolution and Napoleon's empire. He wrote extensively on politics and history, both Italian and American, showing a growing detachment from his early revolutionary enthusiasm. As a gentleman historian, he wrote his Storia della guerra della indipendenza degli Stati Uniti d'America (History of the war of independence of the United States) in an anti-Napoleonic vein, contrasting the figures of Napoleon and George Washington to demonstrate how France first won, then lost, liberty, while the United States was able to keep it. He was, then, a European making use of America to discuss European politics. Although Botta is a far from negligible historian and his Storia an important work in which his admiration for what happened on the other side of the ocean is neither generic nor abstract, but based on sound documentation, his interest is in Europe only. We can therefore take the secondary importance he ascribed to the cahier de doléances of the Continental Congress as a symptom of a more general tendency to see the American Revolution as an exemplary event whose "universal" meaning (that is, its meaning in a Europe-centered universe) takes precedence over the historical context. If this is true for a historian such as Botta, it must also be true -- and with all the more reason -- for nonhistorians writing about American affairs. 4

In the years of the Revolution, the various elites in the Italian states were informed, if and when they were, of events in America via English and, more especially, French sources. The news was scanty and inexact and was often reported in ways that did not reflect factual truth. 5And yet precisely because of the superficiality of the news, it could be easily used like formulae in the political discourse of Venetians, Tuscans, Piedmontese, etc. America therefore circulated in Italy in the form of opinions that served to endorse the positions of whoever held them, becoming part of a political debate that was entirely Venetian, Tuscan, or Piedmontese. The dearth and poor quality of information on America was evidently the result of a double marginality -- that of the newly born United States for the Italian states and that of the Italian states in Europe. The reduction of such information, however, to value judgments on the exemplary nature of American liberty or, in contrast, on the destructive nature of the American rebellion point to how a distant reality, albeit not one felt to be superfluous, was absorbed by a political culture that, as soundly self-centered as it was, thought it could assimilate it by means of criteria for reading and interpretation that were its own. This mode of approaching the United States runs through Italian history right up to our own day. During the Risorgimento, the nineteenth-century movement that led to the unification of Italy in 1860, it was characterized, positively or negatively, by the word "liberty"; a kind of exoticism informs the bewildered reactions of the Italians at the beginning of the twentieth century to the gigantism and the lack of equilibrium that was seen in everything American; the soulless barbarism of American industrial society is the main reading key to Fascist comments; American democracy, substantial or formal depending on ideological positions, is the catchword of the Cold War years. 6After World War II, not only because Italy became a province of the American empire but also because interaction between Italy, other parts of Europe, and the United States grew exponentially, a deeper understanding of America developed, which in turn enriched debate thereon. But nothing could stop encapsulation of the United States in an image, that of democracy, that remained subordinate to the goals of the political conflict under way in Italy. If at first it was its distance that made the United States exemplary, now its massive intrusive presence in the conflictual climate generated by the Cold War led to very similar results. In the hard-fought game between Americanization and anti-Americanism -- two intertwined processes in which Italians played a double role, both active and passive -- the persistence of this distance stemmed from the nature of Italian political cultures. 7The main cultures, Catholic and Marxist, did not feel they had to give up their deeply Eurocentric categories of historical and political interpretation, and their adherents continued to view the United States as a derivative reality, a nation whose main characteristics could be understood on the basis of historical processes -- individualism, capitalism, secularization -- that had originated in Europe and had made the journey across the ocean without being changed substantially. Interpreted in the light of Eurocentric categories, American power appeared as a continuation of the European one -- a consolatory thought that hindered any real confrontation with the United States and allowed Catholics and Marxists alike to persist in their beliefs. 8

In order to develop my argument, though at the risk perhaps of oversimplifying, it can be said that from the end of the eighteenth century to very recent times the United States has remained a fundamentally foreign, albeit exemplarily important, reality. The same can be said for the Declaration of Independence, much admired but extraneous. This perhaps helps explain why my students base their reading of it not on American history -- a culturally mysterious, not to mention half-understood, subject -- but on 1789, on what they understand as democracy today, and on a perception of the United States that stems from their daily reality.

In my almost thirty years' experience of teaching, I have witnessed a series of changes in the way my students approach American history and the Declaration of Independence. During the 1970s, for example, the imperialist and racist image of the United States for most of them informed the principles of the declaration, which was considered an ideological document in the Marxist sense, that is, dictated by "false consciousness." The whole American Revolution, what's more, was seen as a mere political revolution, incapable of affecting the bourgeois structure of American society. In this light the popular sovereignty proclaimed by the declaration seemed "formal"; the unalienable rights it spoke of were "bourgeois" and dependent on the one natural right that did not appear in the text -- the right to property, interpreted in the light of the "possessive individualism" of C. B. Macpherson's enormously influential book. 9In the 1980s, in a very different cultural and political climate where global criticism of the United States was not considered politically of prime importance, my students were particularly sensitive to the subject of rights. It was in this light that many read the declaration (for example, they debated the gendered nature of the rights to life, liberty, and the search for happiness) and, in many cases, judged it to have been betrayed by the Reaganite interpretation of the word "liberty." Today, with United States supremacy in world affairs taken for granted and American domestic politics on tamer centrist ground, political interest in the United States is unquestionably on the wane. The country is by now well known either through direct experience or through popular culture and the mass media, and students tend to focus most of their attention on the consequences of globalization, a process of which the United States is seen as the prime mover. The Declaration of Independence does not provoke discussion, and students, it seems, consider it as some kind of old family ornament. Only the term "people" attracts a measure of attention in view of the recent events in ex-Yugoslavia and the "ethnic" content it is charged with. In this case, however, the old family ornament is viewed affectionately and reassuringly, noting that the term "people" it contains -- which in this case means "us" -- has political and not ethnic connotations. A half-truth that might also serve as commentary on the students' values.

If these were and are, albeit schematically, the reactions of my students, I cannot help but see in them a continuation of what Italian politics did to appropriate and interpret American events and political history in the light of its own parameters. A path that in my opinion points to an attempt not so much to appropriate something "other" -- because the United States is not seen as such and neither is the declaration -- but rather with a peripheral and distant part of "ourselves" relations with which are traditionally few and access to which can be had without modifying one's cultural instruments. This means, if I am right, that the political culture of my students is strong and tied to a sense of Italian / European belonging that may give them a sense of security but that is also so compact as to lead them to blur any difference. To translate-transport my students across the Atlantic with the Declaration of Independence involves then teaching them, not about "difference" -- that is the job of my colleagues who teach African history or, at a different analytical level, gender history -- so much as about "differentiation." It means showing them that American history -- to the extent that it belongs to European history while at the same time changing it -- can help them understand how constructing one's memory and political culture around a model of European history closed in on itself and hegemonic versus the outside world is wrong.

If the declaration is used, the first step in this teaching process lies in contextualizing it and recovering the part that is least read and less known, the cahier de doléances against George III. The accusations leveled at the king show that the political experience of the colonists in the empire was incommensurable with the French one or with that of the Italian states and that the political discourse arising from it was different. This, however, amounts to the negation of every form of exceptionalism, since the "American discourse" of the declaration regarding people, rights, government by consent, and right to revolt is completely incomprehensible outside of a second context -- that of the political "discourses" of the English, French, Italians, etc. Discourses where those selfsame concepts are defined and debated on the basis of other historical realities that it would be as easy as it is wrong to define as exceptional vis-à-vis the American one. The terms used by the declaration are certainly not typical of the United States only, and they belong to a European political discourse that was constructed around the differentiation of experiences and conceptualizations within the European system of which the revolutionary colonies in America were part. Once the door has been opened, the ways for carrying on the work of differentially trans-lating the declaration are legion. I find it, for instance, helpful to resort to the republican interpretation of the Revolution or to Jay Fliegelman's understanding of the declaration as a rhetorical act, according to the language of performative persuasion developed in the eighteenth century, both of which allow the text to be read in a more dislocating way than the students' usual approach, accustoming these latter at the same time to the logic of differentiation. 10 The important thing in my opinion is to activate both the unreflective political culture and the knowledge acquired in other courses by my students so as to accustom them to interpret the past as a series of interactions generated through reciprocal interplay and not according to a unilinear and compact model.

For the purposes of argument, I have made use of an image of my students that does justice neither to them nor to the work of my colleagues. I feel, however, I have started off with the right idea, that is, that despite its constant change, the widespread political culture these students are a part of continues to be dominated by a search for unitary meaning -- a pilgrim's progress one can place one's trust in that longs for a noncontradictory conception of political identity and that, at least in the Italian case, has always been inadequate in content and inadequate for all concerned in structure. This is why I feel that tradurre / tradire a document such as the declaration has a truly educational meaning in that it allows that culture to be subjected to criticism if, together with my students, I manage to understand just how much "people" and how much "government by consent" or "right to revolution" or "pursuit of happiness" there is in our past and, above all, how the construction of concepts that lie at the base of our political identity came about historically through interaction and continuous differentiation. In this way we will be able to see that the past is couched in terms that are not univocal but multivocal, that necessarily speak with different voices.

As Gregory the Great remarked at the end of the sixth century, the Scriptures grow with whoever reads them since reading them means forever interpreting them and discovering their infinite meaning. 11 In like fashion, translating the Declaration of Independence can help students understand how a similarly infinite process of meaning creation constructs historically the terms that come down to us via the declaration and constitute us politically. The hope of the teacher is that, aware of this, the students will modify their own perceptions of their political memory and identity, avoid understanding them as if to be Italian means to have a close, exceptionalist historical self, and recognize that memory and identity exist through all the "foreigners" that live in them and hence through a process of continual estrangement. This, I believe, is the way they will become aware of the process of cultural mediation that constitutes them and succeed in making mediators of themselves -- "putting themselves in the middle" of the Atlantic, there where, as the name suggests, Atlantis still exists. An ambition the classroom makes possible, though no guarantee.

Tiziano Bonazzi is professor of American history at the University of Bologna, Italy, and president of the Italian Association of American Studies.
I wish to thank Marilyn Young and David Thelen for their thoughtful comments and friendly suggestions.
Readers may contact Bonazzi at

1. Sara Volterra, "La Costituzione italiana e i modelli anglosassoni, con particolare riguardo agli Stati Uniti" (The Italian Constitution and Anglo-Saxon models, especially in connection with the United States), in Scelte della Costituente e cultura giuridica (The Constituent Assembly's choices and legal culture), ed. Ugo De Siervo (2 vols., Bologna, 1980), I, 117 - 292.

2. Alberto Aquarone, Guglielmo Negri, and Cipriana Scelba, eds., La formazione degli Stati Uniti d'America (The formation of the United States of America) (2 vols., Pisa, 1961); Carlo Botta, Storia della guerra della indipendenza degli Stati Uniti di America (History of the war of independence of the United States of America) (1809; 7 vols., Venice, 1834).

3. The same change from "laws of nature's God" to "divine laws" can be found in Botta's contemporary C. G. Londonio and in the post-1945 Italian translations of well-known American works, although not in the translation of a late-nineteenth-century textbook or in an early-twentieth-century Italian textbook. See C. G. Londonio, Storia delle colonie inglesi in America (History of the English colonies in America) (3 vols., Milan, 1812 - 1813), II, 264; Richard Hofstadter, ed., Le grandi controversie della storia americana (Great issues in American history), trans. Arturo Balboni (2 vols., Rome, 1966), I, 88; Richard B. Morris, ed., La rivoluzione americana (The American Revolution) (Rome, 1973), 194; Thomas W. Higginson, Storia degli Stati Uniti per uso della gioventù (History of the United States for the use of young people) (Città di Castello, 1888), 356; and Gennaro Mondaini, Le origini degli Stati Uniti d'America (The origins of the United States of America) (Milan, 1904), 407. The first Italian translation of the Declaration of Independence keeps the theistic flavor of Jefferson's text, although it is the one the differs the most from the original English. "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" becomes la legge della natura e dell'Arbitro Supremo che la governa (the law of nature and of the Supreme Arbiter governing it). Apart from this, the translation follows the English text closely, often literally, as in all subsequent translations. The language used is much more archaic than in Botta's translation and the style clumsy, which might be a consequence of its having been hastily completed. The translation appeared in a dispatch of August 23, 1776, from London that contained news about the rebellion in America. I was able to locate it in the National Library of Florence with the help of Dr. Raffaella Baritono. Gazzetta Universale o Sieno Notizie Istoriche, Politiche, di Scienze, Arti, Agricoltura (Florence), Sept. 14, 1776, no. 74.

4. Botta, Storia della guerra, esp. III, 336 - 38. See also Londonio, Storia delle colonie, 266.

5. See Giorgio Spini et al., eds., Italia e America dal Settecento all'età dell'imperialismo (Italy and America from the eighteenth century to the age of imperialism) (Venice, 1976), parts I, II; and Piero Del Negro, Il mito americano nella Venezia del Settecento (The myth of America in eighteenth-century Venice) (Padua, 1986).

6. Giorgio Spini, "Le relazioni politiche fra l'Italia e gli Stati Uniti durante il Risorgimento e la Guerra Civile" (Political relations between Italy and the United States in the age of the Risorgimento and the Civil War), in Italia e Stati Uniti nell'età del Risorgimento e della Guerra Civile (Italy and the United States in the age of the Risorgimento and the Civil War), ed. Agostino Lombardo et al. (Florence, 1969), 121 - 85; Michela Nacci, L'antiamericanismo in Italia negli anni trenta (Anti-Americanism in Italy in the thirties) (Turin, 1989); Spini et al., Italia e America, part III; Maurizio Vaudagna, ed., L'estetica della politica. Europa e America negli anni trenta (The aesthetics of politics. Europe and America in the thirties) (Bari, 1989).

7. Pier Paolo D'Attorre, ed., Nemici per la pelle. Sogno americano e mito sovietico nell'Italia contemporanea (Bosom enemies. The American dream and the Soviet myth in contemporary Italy) (Milan, 1991); David Ellwood, "Comparative Anti-Americanism in Western Europe," in Transactions, Transgressions, Transformations: American Culture in Western Europe and Japan, ed. Heide Fehrenbach and Uta Paiger (New York, forthcoming).

8. The Eurocentric approach of Italian Catholics and Marxists can also be deemed responsible for the lack of interest in American history among Italian historians. See Tiziano Bonazzi, "American History: The View from Italy," Reviews in American History, ? (Dec. 1986), 523 - 41; and Tiziano Bonazzi, "The Beginnings of American History in Italy," in The Fulbright Difference, 1948 - 1992, ed. Richard T. Arndt and David Lee Rubin (New Brunswick, 1993), 149 - 64.

9. C. B. Macpherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke (Oxford, 1962). An Italian translation is: C. B. Macpherson, Libertà e proprietà alle órigini del pensíero politico borghese, trans. Sivana Borutti (Milan, 1973).

10. Jay Fliegelman, Declaring Independence: Jefferson, Natural Language, and the Culture of Performance (Stanford, 1993).

11. Pier Cesare Bori, L'interpretazione infinita (Endless interpretation) (Bologna, 1987).