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My grandfather was a commissioner on the Chicago Stock Yards. But like Pip, I had great expectations, and they were called “Europe.” Like so many children of the University of Chicago-Saul Bellow, Susan Sontag-I aspired not just to know Europe but to be part of it. So I studied in Italy, put myself on a quoting basis with Dante, Leopardi, Milton and Coleridge, and have made it my business to provide young Americans with European books-first as an editor at University of Minnesota Press and now at Harvard University Press.

Recently, however, something has happened. I find myself drawn to…

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