The art concealed: Translation as sprezzatura

Document Type


Publication Date



In his influential treatise, The Book of the Courtier (1528), the Italian Renaissance writer Baldesar Castiglione introduces the fascinating concept of sprezzatura (translated as 'nonchalance' or even 'disdain'), which he urges the perfect courtier to practise in order to disguise his meticulous training and make his actions appear graceful and effortless. This essay applies the concept of sprezzatura to the sphere of translation in order to give a healthy twist to the notion of invisibility. Indeed, far from reflecting a humble acceptance of a marginal role or the refusal to acknowledge one's centrality and responsibility to the text, through sprezzatura invisibility becomes the effect of a skilful strategy whereby translators, unseen and therefore ever more in control, create an artful spontaneity, forging an artificial but seemingly natural connection between the audience and the truly invisible player-the author. Ultimately, sprezzatura allows translators to see themselves as consummate illusionists and promotes a translating style that, rather than chasing perfect equivalence and mourning losses, trusts the suggestive power of language to evoke the distant echoes of a foreign text.

Publication Name

Translation and literary studies: Homage to marilyn gaddis rose

First Page


Last Page


This document is currently not available here.