Several years ago, I happened to pick up a used copy of Charles Godfrey Leland's ground-breaking book, Aradia or the Gospel of the Witches. I'd hoped it would give me some insight into the history of Italian Witchcraft, and devoured every word. I was sorely disappointed. Not in the material itself, but in his 'translation' of the Italian language sections he'd included in the text. Some of it was completely ignored, untranslated at all. Some was translated very sloppily. And some was just wrong. In an effort to discover what the Italian original that he was quoting from really said, I began to produce my own personal translation of the bits he'd included.
Of course, most of the book is narrated in English, and the author didn't offer us a peek at the original Italian text he had used to create that narration, so we have only his word that his translation is correct. Knowing how misguided his included translation is, I have serious doubts as to the narration's veracity.
I never intended to publish my translation when I began it. But friends began to ask for assistance in understanding the book, and turned to my work for help. After a while, they convinced me that I should offer my translation for publication. But by the time I'd prepared the manuscript, Dr. Mario Pazzaglini, with Dina Pazzaglini, his mother, had already published a new translation, 100 years after the original has appeared. I put mine back on the shelf.
Then I read Dr. Pazzaglini's work, and was delighted to find that most of what he'd found mirrored my own findings. However, there were several places that he seemed to have missed a seemingly purposeful phrasing, which changed the meaning of the work considerably, and other places that he had been unable to fathom completely. Those happened to be areas I'd already deciphered. I began to write a letter to the good Dr., hoping to convince him to produce a new edition of his work, in collaboration with my own, but found that he had passed away shortly after his work was published.
So I picked up my manuscript once more, polished it, and published it. I am pleased to have been joined in my work by Gary R. Varner, who wrote a chapter for the book, and by Lori Bruno, an hereditary Strega in the Boston area, who offered to write the foreword. I have included a brief introduction to the Italian language in the book, to assist those who attempt to read the original aloud. And I dealt in some depth with some of the most glaring errors that Leland left for us.
Briefly, I would like to note that Leland, in publishing this book, has given us a tremendous gift. I will not attempt to determine whether the information within his book is legitimate, or of any ancient value. But his work opened the door to a secret practice, that remains deeply secret, even today. However, Leland, who presented himself as a linguist, proficient in the Italian tongue, made many mistakes. First, the "Italian" text is actually dialectically Tuscan, not Italian, which made translation difficult for me. Leland lived and worked in Tuscany, and his compatriot, Maddalena, was a Tuscan fortune-teller, cum witch, who brought him, for money, pages of hand-written material purportedly from ancient sources, and in practice in her day (end of the 19th century). Since he lived and worked in Tuscany and supposedly spoke enough of the dialect to converse with Maddalena and others, one would assume that he would have been able to correctly translate the material given him. Alas, he was not. Much of what he does present is actually an interpretation of the material, rather than a translation. There are times that he changes wordings and phraseology in order to create a rhyme, probably because the original seemed to rhyme. This I find unacceptable. A translation must only translate, and leave interpretation for another page, another line, another time, another author, or even just a footnote.
Leland also has a tendency to quote other authors, by mentioning their works only, or by speaking of them by only their surnames, without giving full credit to the work itself. He also seems to think that all readers are proficient in all languages, and doesn't attempt to translate lines he includes in Latin, German, French, etc. Both of these attitudes I find to be arrogant.
I am very proud of the work I've done on Aradia, enough so that I used the entire original title within my own title, Aradia: Gospel of the Witches, Retold. I have had very good reviews, and invite you, reader, to visit my website to preview it, and decide for yourself its value. It is available at http://stores.lulu.com/deliathecrone