avrebbe avuto voglia di uscire

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theartichoke

Senior Member
English - Canada
Hello all,

I'd like to check that I'm getting the translation of this verb tense right. It's in a longish sentence in Elena Varvello's short story "Isole," which goes like this:

"Nelle giornate buie, quelle in cui pensava non ci fosse niente di veramente importante da fare, aveva l'impressione che, per donne come lei, il mondo potesse arrivare a rimpicciolirsi fino a stare in una lista della spesa; allora tutto sembrava contrarsi, al punto di toglierle il respiro, come se le pareti e il soffitto le si stessero stringendo addosso, e avrebbe avuto voglia di uscire, di camminare svelta, lasciandosi alle spalle la sua casa ridotta a una scatola, chiuso su se stesso come un pugno."

The woman in question is a wife who's resigned herself to her loveless marriage and humdrum life, unaware her husband is about to leave her. Other than the fact that she's not planning to walk out and leave her house, I can't think of further context that would be helpful to decide how to translate the tense, but am happy to give more if anyone needs it.

The way I read it is that in those dark moments she would have liked to have left (but she doesn't), which may be why it's "avrebbe avuto voglia di uscire" rather than "aveva voglia di uscire" in parallel with "tutto sembrava contrarsi." But I keep second-guessing myself, so some reassurance--or correction--would be helpful! Below is my translation of the full sentence:

"On dark days, days in which she thought there was really nothing important to be done, she had the impression that for women like herself, the world might just keep shrinking down until it was small enough to fit into a shopping list; and that’s when everything seemed to contract, to the point where she couldn’t breathe any more, as if the walls and the ceiling were closing in on her, and she would have liked to have left, to walk quickly, leaving her house behind her, shrunk down to a box, closed in on itself like a fist."
 
  • Tom S. Fox

    Senior Member
    German
    …and that’s when everything seemed to contract…
    Why “and that’s when”? The previous sentence stated that everything was already contracting.

    …she would have liked to have left…
    Awkward phrasing. If anything, it should be, “she would have liked to leave.” But uscire doesn’t mean “to leave,” but “to go out(side).” If the intended meaning were that she would have liked to leave permanently, it would have said, “avrebbe avuto voglia di andarsene.”
     
    Last edited:

    MoltoMahler

    Member
    Italian
    Why “and that’s when”? The previous sentence stated that everything was already contracting.

    Awkward phrasing. If anything, it should be, “she would have liked to leave.” But uscire doesn’t mean “to leave,” but “to go out(side).” If the intended meaning were that she would have liked to leave permanently, it would have said, “avrebbe avuto voglia di andarsene.”
    The way I see it, it's somewhere in between the two things. "Everything might just keep shrinking down" but it didn't until the very thought of it made it feel real.

    - "She wanted to get out of there" (but she didn't)
    I think this is the meaning.
     
    Last edited:

    TheCrociato91

    Senior Member
    Italian - Northern Italy
    Hello @theartichoke.

    I personally read the sentence

    avrebbe avuto voglia di uscire
    as meaning: "She would have wanted / liked to (physically) go out(side)", as suggested by @Tom S. Fox (by the way, "to leave" can indeed mean "uscire", as in: "leave the house" --> "uscire da(lla) casa").

    If in your translation you interpret "to leave" as meaning "to depart", I'm not sure it is correct since the verb "uscire" normally does not carry this implication.

    However, given the topic of the excerpt, I would not rule out the possinily of a more "metaphorical" interpretation, similar to that suggested by @MoltoMahler. If this is the intended implication, I do find the verb choice slightly odd, though.
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    I personally read the sentence
    as meaning: "She would have wanted / liked to (physically) go out(side)", as suggested by @Tom S. Fox (by the way, "to leave" can indeed mean "uscire", as in: "leave the house" --> "uscire da(lla) casa").

    If in your translation you interpret "to leave" as meaning "to depart", I'm not sure it is correct since the verb "uscire" normally does not carry this implication.
    I am indeed using "leave" to mean "leave the house," not "abandon everything" or "leave the marriage"; my problem was that I couldn't quite get why it's "avrebbe avuto voglia" rather than "aveva voglia."

    Tom is right, though, that "She would have liked to leave" works better than "she would have liked to have left."

    As for the matter of "allora tutto sembrava contrarsi," I read the sentence as saying that she would sometimes think about the shrinking of her own world and the worlds of women like her--a very metaphorical, abstract kind of shrinking, in the sense of having a small, unexciting life made up of a few mundane, routine activities--and when she thought about this, she would then start to feel as if the walls of her house were closing in on her--a kind of shrinking and contracting that is still metaphorical, but with a physical component, a kind of claustrophobia.

    Thanks, everyone!
     

    TheCrociato91

    Senior Member
    Italian - Northern Italy
    my problem was that I couldn't quite get why it's "avrebbe avuto voglia" rather than "aveva voglia."
    I feel like the difference between "avrebbe avuto voglia" and "aveva voglia" is pretty much the same as that existing between "she would have wanted to" and "she wanted to" (or even "she felt like").

    The use of the past conditional tense underlines that she eventually did not satisfy her own desire to leave / go out; whereas the Italian imperfetto and, similarly, the English simple past tenses simply suggest that she had such a desire to leave / go out.
    In my view it's just a nuance though; if the author had used "aveva voglia" instead, I don't think the difference would've been that significant.

    As for the other sentence, I don't see anything wrong with the way you've chosen to translate it.
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    The use of the past conditional tense underlines that she eventually did not satisfy her own desire to leave / go out; whereas the Italian imperfetto and, similarly, the English simple past tenses simply suggest that she had such a desire to leave / go out.
    In my view it's just a nuance though; if the author had used "aveva voglia" instead, I don't think the difference would've been that significant.
    That's very well put. I agree.:)
     
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