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SELECTED AND TRANSLATED
ERNEST HATCH WILKINS
The first ten of the essays here translated are from Papini's 24 Cervelli (“Four and Twenty Minds”), the next six from his Stroncature (“Slashings”), and the last eight from his Testimonianze ("Testimonies”).
In the Preface to 24 Cervelli, Papini writes:
These essays deal with twenty-four men-poets, philosophers, imaginary beings, scientists, mystics, paintersgrouped without regard to logical classifications or to their relative importance. Some of the essays are tributes of affection, some are slashings; some reveal neglected greatness, others demolish undeserved reputations. Some are long, and represent careful study, others are brief and slight. ... I have surveyed these four and twenty souls not with the scrupulous exactitude of the pure scholar, nor with the definitive cocksureness of the professional critic, but as a man seeking to penetrate deeply into the lives of other men in order to discern and to reveal their lovableness or their hatefulness. The essays, then, are for the most part impassioned, subjective, partial-lyric, in a sense and not critical.
These essays had been written between 1902 and 1912: 24 Cervelli was published in the latter year. The book proved very successful; and in 1916 Papini brought out a second set of twentyfour similar essays, to which he gave the title Slashings. In this volume, as the title indicates,