Essays. Criticism. Memoir. This odd and engaging volume consists primarily of essays written between 1900 and 1944, in which the Italian poet Umberto Saba writes of himself in the third person, providing a truly fascinating critique of his own work. As work of criticism written pseudonymously, and without irony, about one’s own work, and for the primary purpose of celebrating that work, the History and Chronicle of the Songbook remains unique . . . in literary history . . . This is not a work of self-promotion; it is, like all Saba’s writing, in poetry or prose, a work of self-definition, even self-creation (from the Translator’s Foreword). As an exercise in self-objectification, then, the book becomes not only a useful work about Saba’s poetry, but an inquiry into identity, the relationship of the self to the world around the self, and the ability of a poet to explicitly create a poetics but of a response to his or her own work.