Wednesday 19 January – Maurizio Costa, deputy chairman and chief executive of Mondadori, and Pietro Citati, director of the Fondazione Valla, presented a copy of the new edition of The Koran, published in the Islamica series, to Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican.
The Holy Father expressed his gratitude and expressed his approval for this cultural and religious initiative.
“I am extremely honoured that the Holy Father agreed to accept the gift of a copy of the Koran, just as in 2006 he received a special edition of the Bible,” explained Maurizio Costa. “For Mondadori this event is a further recognition of the company’s tradition as a publisher that is careful to give voice to the widest range of opinions and thoughts in respect of the plurality of ideas and values.”
“There have been few and unsatisfactory previous Italian translations and the commentaries were no better,” underlined Pietro Citati. “Now Italians can read the Koran and abandon themselves to its solemn and tumultuous wave. I think there will be many surprises.”
The text, edited by Alberto Ventura, is published in a completely new translation by Ida Zilio-Grandi, who teaches Arabic language and literature at the University of Venice. The work has been overseen with an indispensable linguistic competence which aims to render the Koran clear and comprehensible, in a modern Italian free of the kind of archaic forms that have typified the translations of ancient religious texts.
The extensive commentary, the richest and most complete ever written in a European language, is the work of an international group of scholars – in addition to Ida Zilio-Grandi, Mohammad Ali Amir-Moezzi, Mohyiddin Yahia and Alberto Ventura – in an attempt to explain many of the difficulties and ambiguities in the text and to illuminate for the reader the meaning of each individual verse, the possible difference of interpretation and the stories to which reference is frequently made without sufficient background.